About 15 years ago I got to meet Rick Pitino when he was promoting his book Success is a Choice. Pitino is among the most successful college coaches in tournament history, bringing three different schools to the Final Four.
I specifically remember a chapter from his book that made the distinction between pressure and stress. He said, “Pressure is always there in some form. It’s in all of our lives, whether in the workplace or in our personal lives… You can either see it as something stimulating and exciting – something you can use as an ally – or you can worry about it and have it negatively affect your performance.”
On the other hand, stress is the enemy. “Stress appears when you’re not prepared, not focused on your job. It shows up when you’re cutting corners. Stress occurs when you are being asked to do something you’re not sure you can do.”
So clearly, what’s the best way to deal with the stress of a test, an interview, or a game-winning shot?