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The Privilege of Performing Under Pressure

Elise Jones Sep 22, 2020 5:49:19 AM

It’s been said that pressure is a great privilege. And 2020 is without question a banner year for pressures and challenges. 

We are leading presentations from our living rooms, grappling with work and life demands that can change daily, and iterating on how to lead remote teams who are all dealing with stress, pressures, and obstacles of their own. Adding to that are the macro challenges of public and personal health and safety, working against social injustices, economic shifts and impact, and—how could we forget—this being an election year. 

And yet, high-achievers are not only managing but finding ways to learn, grow and thrive under this immense pressure. What is it that drives some people to lean into the challenges and not crumble under the pressure? What separates high achievers from the rest of the pack? 

It’s all in the way high achievers approach a challenge and respond to pressure that leads to their success. We talked to Valor Coaches and Valor Clients from technology and healthcare fields for their tips on leading during this time and showing valor in the face of adversity. We’ve gathered their advice on how they are thriving and surviving through the pandemic below.

Dr. Lauren S. Tashman, Master Coach at Valor Performance

Dr. Lauren S. Tashman, CMPC

Master Coach at Valor Performance

After years of working with and studying high performers and high performance environments, one thing has stood out to me that’s important to remember at this time:

The “best” performers in the world are human.

They experience the mental and emotional challenges that come with stress and pressure, but their relentless, agile, and resilient mindset enables them to allow these to be detours or bumps in the road rather than roadblocks. To leverage your inner high performer during this unprecedented time, I would suggest three key strategies:

1) Be curious about your mindset and reactions because everything good and bad is an opportunity to learn and get 1% better,

2) Choose 1 or 2 goals or values to guide how you want to show up each day so you can respond instead of react more often, and

3) Have your “go to” strategies but also a well-equipped toolbox of options so you are proactively ready to courageously face adversity, stress, and pressure.


Christian Buck, Elite Coach at Valor Performance

Christian Buck

Elite Coach at Valor Performance

Don’t let hard work get in the way of thinking. Being forced to step away from the day-to-day operations can allow high achievers to focus on other areas of their business or career that often get pushed to the back burner—like marketing, sales, forecasting, personal branding, launching new products or services, etc.

Performance = Talent – Interference. Identify what is currently interfering with your talent. Aspects of our jobs that we used to take for granted, like commuting or the ability to stay focused on the task at hand while in the office versus working from home, are adding to the our daily interference. Recognize what is causing the interference, then identify solutions to reduce it and remain focused on the task at hand. 

High achievers adopt a “Bring it!” mindset. When working with high-level athletes, I often discuss with them how fear changes our physiology: tightening our muscles and raising our heart rate and blood pressure. When someone adopts a “Bring it!” mindset, it allows them to feel empowered, engaged, and ready.

Tiffeny Parker, Associate Coach at Valor Performance and dual Team USA athlete


Tiffeny Parker

Associate Coach at Valor Performance and dual Team USA athlete (2022 Olympic hopeful USA bobsled, Track & Field Heptathlete for Team USA, 2016 Olympic Trials)

One of the most important tips is consistency. Wake up and put your best foot forward. It’s like I say, “Look good, feel good, run good!”

Start the day with what you are thankful for and end the day with what you are thankful for. Take two to three minutes to give back to yourself and realize your blessings.

People win by showing up. Every day might not be an ideal day and you might have to navigate things differently. But, you have to show up to get any results — even if it’s a result that you have to grow from.

Michelle Benfer, VP of Sales at Hubspot and Valor Client

Michelle Benfer

VP of Sales at Hubspot and Valor Client

For me, the pandemic has catalyzed my agility as a leader and a mother and I’ve honestly welcomed the professional challenge and personal development. I’m not saying it’s been easy, but, I am finding new ways to improve how I operate and have been taking the long view and embracing it. 

Now I seek feedback from my team more, I empathize with and hear individual challenges from my people to which I wouldn’t have previously been attuned. We’ve bound together in a mission to operate with excellence to mitigate potential business headwinds. 

And my team gets to see me juggling work, motherhood, a barking dog and get to hear what the tooth fairy brings once my daughter’s wiggly tooth finally falls out. You have to look at the silver lining.

Frank Jennings, Chief Commercial Officer at Covera Health and Valor Client

Frank Jennings

Chief Commercial Officer at Covera Health and Valor Client

Stay intentional. There are numerous opportunities to be distracted from your goals with all that comes in the WFH environment many of us face. It is easy to spend too much time on things that are not core to the mission of the business or team. Ensure you are prepared in every interaction—now mostly on video—to drive towards specific outcomes.

Stay goal oriented. Adjust your goals but stay the course. In many industries, goals and targets need to be adjusted due to the reality of the market. We are resetting goals now with shorter time horizons and reevaluating them more frequently. This series of sprints allows us to stay focused on short term goals and more frequently adjust as we learn more about the permanent impacts the pandemic will have on our business.

Listen and learn. Peer groups are more willing to share best practices than I have ever witnessed in my career. Groups like Valor are pulling leaders together to share best practices as almost every business has been impacted by the pandemic. 

Stay optimistic! We will get through this and be stronger.

Jamie Hager, Senior Manager, Global Programs in Sales Readiness at LinkedIn and Valor Client

Jamie Hager

Senior Manager, Global Programs in Sales Readiness at LinkedIn and Valor Client

Prioritization! It’s important more than ever to focus on the work that only you can do and the work that really matters. Be present with your team. Create more moments to connect with your team: optional happy hours, Teams Channel Chats, more frequent but shorter 1:1s, send notes and gestures of appreciation to their homes (working space), and encourage them to find Work-Life Harmony. In order to truly make an impact for your employees, this must be role-modeled by you! Make time for self-care, take time away from work, set clear boundaries on work hours and learn to say no! This is also a part of prioritization!

By reframing challenges and adversity as opportunities, high-achievers are able to harness the pressure and use it to their advantage.

Learn more about how you can reach your peak performance with Valor here.

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