Clutch: Why Some People Excel Under Pressure and Others Don't

Clutch: Why Some People Excel Under Pressure and Others Don't

by Paul J. Sullivan


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Clutch: Why Some People Excel Under Pressure and Others Don't by Paul J. Sullivan

Is clutch performance innate-or can it be learned?

Sooner or later everyone encounters a situation in which the stakes are high and the outcome is crucial. And even top performers can crumble when faced with such extreme pressure. Consider the CEO who panics in a desperate attempt to shore up his company's earnings, the veteran politician who grows overconfident and loses to the upstart candidate, the quarterback who carries his team to the Super Bowl but falls apart in the final quarter. All of them choked. But then there are the performers who thrive under such conditions: the ER doctor racing the clock to save someone's life, the lieutenant who leads his platoon to victory after an ambush, the young attorney who refuses to be intimidated in court and wins the crucial case.

These people are clutch, and their ability to overcome extreme pressure consistently and beat the toughest odds fascinates us. How do they do it? According to Paul Sullivan, clutch performance does not stem from an innate ability. It's a learned skill: the art of operating in high-stress situations as if they were everyday conditions. Even some of the most experienced and talented performers lack this skill-but Sullivan shows that anyone can develop it. Drawing on new research and interviews with stars across a range of fields, Sullivan uncovers the shared traits that define clutch performers and explains how anyone can apply their strategies. He builds his case through many inspiring true stories, including those of

• a skinny sergeant who saved his battalion in Iraq;

• a rookie baseball player who pitched his team into its first World Series;

• an eccentric psychiatrist who trained a group of financial traders to become the best in the world;

• a lawyer who struggled in school but became one of the top litigators in America.
Full of powerful advice and real-world examples, Clutch will show you how to overcome extreme pressure to achieve greatness.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781591843504
Publisher: Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date: 09/02/2010
Pages: 256
Product dimensions: 6.50(w) x 9.50(h) x 0.17(d)
Age Range: 18 Years

About the Author

Paul Sullivan writes the "Wealth Matters" column for The New York Times. His articles have appeared in Condé Nast Portfolio, The International Herald Tribune, Barron's, and the Financial Times, where he was a reporter, editor, and columnist. He lives in Connecticut with his family.

What People are Saying About This

From the Publisher

"Clutch, by New York Times columnist Paul Sullivan, is a well- written examination of what makes a person perform despite stress. It's not luck, he emphasizes; it's "the ability to do what you can do normally under immense pressure." He points to five key traits of clutch performers: focus, discipline, adaptability, being truly present and having the fear and desire to win. Sullivan illustrates these talents by way of portraits of accomplished, self-assured performers such as trial lawyer David Boies, JPMorgan Chase's Jamie Dimon and Sergeant Willie Copeland, a hero in Iraq."

-TIME Magazine

"Mr. Sullivan has sallied forth with notepad and pen in hand to tell individual stories... [He] takes his examples from sports, business, the military and the stage. He explains right away that there are five traits that help people pull off a clutch performance: focus; discipline, adaptability, presence (i.e., actual involvement in the task at hand), and fear and desire. "
-Wall Street Journal

"In ...Clutch, Paul Sullivan, a columnist for The New York Times, examines strategies essential for remaining composed when the pressure's on.... Anyone who feels that they tend to lose their confidence when the stakes are high can glean something from this analysis."
-Associated Press

"If you can't perform well under pressure, then you can't really perform well. Paul Sullivan explains very readably how great performers meet the challenge. Chokers everywhere-which means all of us, in some part of our lives-owe him thanks."
-Geoff Colvin, author of Talent Is Overrated

"In Clutch Paul Sullivan has captured the essence of what makes stars superstars. Concise, engaging, and invaluable. A brilliant book with lessons on how to excel in whatever you do both professionally and personally."
-Scott R. Singer, author of How to Hit a Curveball: Confront and Overcome the Unexpected in Business

"In Clutch, Paul Sullivan-one of the best young journalists at work in this country-shows us what really effective people do in situations where they must perform well, even gracefully, under pressure. His interviews with people in clutch situations are never less than thoroughly entertaining. Sullivan has a keen eye for what matters, and this wise book deserves a large audience."
-Jay Parini, author of The Last Station

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Clutch: Why Some People Excel Under Pressure and Others Don't 3.7 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 14 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
RolfDobelli More than 1 year ago
Everyone faces "clutch" situations, those times when you need to function under intense pressure. Few excel in these stressful moments; most choke. New York Times columnist Paul Sullivan investigates what makes the notable few who can handle stress so reliable under pressure. He interviews top athletes - including Tiger Woods - highly decorated combat veterans, seasoned heads of financial institutions, and successful traders to discover their secrets and methods. Without making his prose sound like something from a self-help book, Sullivan outlines how to avoid choking and how to stand tall in the clutch. He includes everything from stage fright to keeping a cool head in combat and makes extensive use of real-life examples to bring home his points. The book is entertaining but frustratingly short of actual prescription, leading you to suspect that being clutch may be a more innate than learned talent. Nonetheless, getAbstract recommends this intriguing overview to anyone who has ever choked under pressure and wants to see what it means to be clutch.
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Advertised on its cover as "the ultimate guide to understanding high achievement and to stepping up your own game", I was hoping for a book full of practical steps, scientific evidence and the like, but it's mostly anecdotal stories about people succeeding and failing under pressure. I didn't find it particularly helpful, although it's entertaining.
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Sullivan offers 5 ways for someone to become clutch. He illustrates those 5 characteristics through personal anecdotes vs. perscriptive illustrations. He also describes what traits are NOT clutch through individual's actions. I found this book enjoyable with a clear direction on how I can become more clutch. I highly recommend this for the business executive to the elite athlete or the stay at home mom who wants to be better under pressure. Everyone can benefit from reading Clutch.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago