When the game is on the line: How to react with high pressure business decisions

Decisions arWhen the games on the line- How to react with high pressure business decisionse one of hardest things to make in life. Decisions are made each and every day of our lives; some big and some small. Because the fear of making a wrong decision is at the front of our minds, sometimes we tend to make irrational decisions based on emotion alone. With what I’ve learned in football, I have developed a strategy to make well-thought out decisions.


One of the things that our coaches do at our practices is create an atmosphere to where we are under stress the entire time. We are always moving around at all points of the practice for 2 and a half hours straight. Loud music plays in the background whiles coaches scream and push us to our limits.  Without understanding the reason behind it at first, I would get flustered and worked up all practice long. I would get so worked up that I wouldn’t think about the mental part of the game, but rather thinking negative emotions such as:

  • Wanting practice to be over with
  • Getting mad at the coaches
  • Making excuses; blaming others for my mistakes


However, the point of this strategy it to make you uncomfortable at all times during the practice. One may ask why in the world would a coach do that?  The logic behind the philosophy stems from understanding that the brain is a muscle itself. You have to train your brain just as you would train your legs, arms, shoulders, and chest when working out. Therefore, when we line up to run a play or start a drill, we can control our emotions and brain allowing to practice clear thinking while enduring high stress. No matter what level of employment you are in, quick decisions are going to have to be made for the advancement of the company. The best way to be prepared for these situations is to practice for them. By creating real-life situations within the company, you can see how others, and yourself would react while not having any of the true consequences that come with making real decisions.


Now that we have learned to train our brains, the next step in the process is to formulate the base plan at the point of making a decision. On offense, when we learn to execute a play on the chalk board, we learn the base rules that stay virtuous throughout. But, like anything in life, plans never usually work out the way that you originally designed them. However, when you stick to a set of rules that can be adapted to throughout different scenarios, you can be successful still.


Right before the snap of a play, we have a base rule of our scheme. Once the ball is snapped, the defense moves around. We have to be able to process where they move to, how to react to their movement, and then execute our movement in less than a second. Therefore, we have to keep the base set of rules simple yet effective. You have to see the beginning, middle, and end of the play in that second BEFORE you make contact with the opposing player. Emotional decisions cannot be processed during this time. Therefore you must be able to trust the process, and be confident with your preparation.


Let’s use a real life business example:

A new product line was launched in your business. The reviews come back that the product is efficient, but sales aren’t as high as expected. Research comes back and shows that customers are seeking improvement on packaging. However, you have already sunken a large chunk of money into the product, and changing the packaging would cost more money, and could potentially be risky if consumers don’t respond well. What to do? You must first relax during the pressure situation. Next, run tests of each scenario to get a generalized result of what may happen based on the decision you make. Next, refer back to your base rules that you have set for each type of situation, and trust that process and go with it!


When we look at decisions that do not have a “Life is 10 percent what happens to you and ninety percent how you respond to it.”direct affect towards us, we typically find it easy to decide what decision to make. However, when the decision starts to affect us, we start over analyzing the situation because of the emotions that come along with it. That is why it is vital that you must practice on controlling your
mind and emotions when making decisions. The best action to take is a reaction. Lou Holtz once said:

“Life is 10 percent what happens to you and ninety percent how you respond to it.”

See the whole process through, and react based on the rules that you set in place before the emotional attachment is involved.

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