Thinking Correctly Under Pressure

November 3, 2015 3:02 pm
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When the pressure is on, it is understood that individuals revert back to what they know – this may be a cup of tea for many of us, but that is not what is implied by TCUP (or Thinking Correctly under Pressure).

The acronym TCUP stands for ‘Thinking Correctly under Pressure’ and as with my previous article, it is a theory that can be applied in sport, business or everyday life.

Have you ever reflected on a decision made when under pressure and decided it probably wasn’t the most sensible? Or perhaps an alternative and more appropriate choice has come to you as an afterthought? The pressure is on to make the final orders of the day or production is at a standstill waiting for the revised plan; the theory of T CUP aims to reduce this perceived pressure and improve the decision-making ability of individuals ‘in the moment’. This allows not only for consistent performance but also a step in performance through removing the troughs caused by poor decision-making.

The key is planning and preparation. By considering and exposing individuals to a range of scenarios, environments and experiences, sensitivity to the apparent pressure reduces and therefore intelligent decision-making capability improves. Standardisation and training is imperative to remove the complexity of decision-making and rid ‘if only’ from the mind-set of those tasked with making the call.

Take the current Rugby World Cup as an example. During the last few minutes of the England versus Wales match, England were behind and the pressure was on. Decisions were made to push for the try rather than take the penalty, the line out was taken short, making it easier for Wales to regain possession. On reflection, were these the best decisions? Probably not. But the result was a culmination of not enlisting T CUP, as well as inexperience. Consider instead the Rugby World Cup final of 2003 – the team apparently ‘clicked’, allowing the game to be won in the final few seconds. The team did not ‘click’, this was T CUP at its finest, allowed through standardised operations that had been drilled in to the players so much so that this was now second nature.

T CUP needs to be considered by you and your management teams as well. In day-to-day business you need to be given every opportunity to make the best decisions through the most effective training. For example – nothing can beat first-hand experience but we can come close by using aids such as mentors, peers, video footage, role play and repetition.

Before diving in to the next decision when everything has stopped, nothing is working and everyone is looking at you for the fix; take a step back and remember T CUP before making your decision known.

Written by Charlotte Cousins, Coriolis Ltd

Read more on Clive Woodward’s T CUP mantra here