Dealing With Pressure and Stress
Have you ever been attacked, robbed or backstabbed? Maybe not, but you might have felt this way when you were in an argument with your boss, when your colleague closed a big deal with your client or when you just missed a promotion. Do you know that in all of these situations your body and mind reacts the same? When you are exposed to threats, neural activity in the amygdala increases and body responses (like sweating or increased heart rate) result. As business people we often overreact and there's are many things we can learn from Krav Maga athletes, who train how to deal with attacks.
Krav Maga is a self-defense technique, developed by the Israeli military. Last Sunday I had the pleasure to work with Krav Maga Expert Level 2 Trainer Roy Tichelaar. These are the 8 useful life lessons I learned from his training:
1. Fighting is the last option
We all know the cool fighting scenes from the Hollywood movies, but Krav Maga is not about fighting. It’s actually the final option out of five.
First, you avoid a problem. This doesn’t mean you ignore or run away from it. Krav Maga athletes are trained to scan the environment and prevent danger. In fact, Krav Maga athletes would be great risk managers in your organization.
Secondly, Krav Maga athletes use words to solve problems. They either raise their voice to threaten the opponent or negotiate with a calm voice. If you think about taking an assertiveness course, why not trying Krav Maga?
Third, use your environment. In Krav Maga you use an object as a shield or weapon. In business, this means that you can ask you colleagues or superiors to help out.
The fourth and fifth option are fighting options to defend yourself when you are in danger. Use the amount of aggression that is appropriate to defend yourself.
So leave your nasty tricks, politics and (passive) agressive behaviour at home. You really don’t need them at work. Most problems can be avoided, solved with good communication skills or with help from colleagues.
2. Scan the environment
Krav Maga practitioners have amazing situational awareness skills. Everywhere they go, they scan the environment for possible dangers and escape routes. Does this sound paranoid to you? Maybe, but Krav Maga athletes are so well trained in scanning, that it has become an almost unconscious process in their mind.
So next time you are preparing a sales presentation, think of the possible threats, visualize how you would react to these situations and create a back-up plan. For example, what do you do if your prospect doesn’t have time for you and it turns out you can only show half of your presentation? Can you do your sales pitch when your computer and beamer fall out? Do you have an extra shirt in your car, in case you spill coffee while driving to you client?
Chances that these situations take place are small, but probably bigger than an attack at a restaurant. You better be prepared!
3. Keep overview of the situation
Even when you are really focused on your task and achieving your goals, it’s important to always keep overview of the situation. A Krav Maga athlete knows what’s happening around him or her even when he or she is focused on averting direct danger. As soon as direct danger is averted, the Krav Maga athlete will scan the environment again.
Your clients or problems might look very big and important, but don’t be too focused and narrow minded. You will overlook new opportunities or better solutions. Always keep overview of the situation and take a moment to step back and scan.
4. Solve your major problem first
When you are being attacked it’s key that you defend yourself first. When the second opponent is running towards you, you don’t turn around and start fighting. You solve your most impactful problem first, before you move on to the next one.
Sounds easy doesn’t it? It does, but in business life we tend to forget this impactful rule. We don’t acknowledge that there’s a direct problem, we find new problems and we even create new problems.
Can you picture a Krav Maga athlete discussing with her superior, her colleagues or an external consultant? I doubt it! The Krav Maga athlete takes responsibility and solves the problem before it even occurs. 5. Don’t be a sheep
Following others is never a good option, especially not when you are in a life threatening situation. Stay calm and mindful and always make your own decisions. Never simply trust on someone else’s behavior, the person that you are following could be a follower of a follower of someone with other intentions. In business: Don’t just do what everyone else does. If you want to make a change, you are the one to step it up!
6. Fight or Flight!
If you find yourself in a life threatening situation freeze is not an option in Krav Maga. You either fight or flight! In other words: you take action! Depending on the situation you make the decision to either use a defensive or offensive technique.
So if your boss starts yelling at you, you either tell him in a nice way that you don’t accept his behavior and that you expect an apology or you leave and report the incident. You don’t just let it happen.
7. Reflection time
Excellent athletes always take time to reflect. They know exactly what went well and which things they can improve. They mentally train and program themselves to not make the same mistakes again. Learning from reflection works best when you directly start reflecting after your performance.
Take some time after your sales or client meeting to reflect on your performance. What went well and which things can you improve? What would you do differently next time?
8. Activate and release
Not only do you want to take time between meetings to reflect on your performance, it’s also important to relax and release. Top athletes are great in quickly activating the body and mind when they need to perform, but they are experts in relaxing and releasing. They take good care of their body and mind, eat healthy food and rest.
As a business person your system also needs to calm down after an important meeting or impactful day. You need to bring your body back to a normal state. Chances are big that you are hungry (your digestion system is activated when you release) and thirsty (you produced less saliva during the activation state), so take time for a healthy and relaxed lunch before you move on to your next meeting. Play hard, relax and release hard! Strong Mind Training Institute uses the lessons learned in elite sports to train ambitious people and help them achieve more excellence in their professional and private lives.