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Crunch Time: How to Be Your Best When It Matters Most

Crunch Time: How to Be Your Best When It Matters Most

Crunch Time: How to Be Your Best When It Matters Most

Crunch Time: How to Be Your Best When It Matters Most


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Be Your Best Under Pressure!

Learn how elite athletes like Michael Jordan, Sandy Cofax, Tom Glavin, and Pedro Martinez, deal with pressure. In his 15 years as a major league pitching coach, with "Moneyball" Oakland A's, NY Mets, Milwaukee Brewers and Baltimore Orioles, Rick Peterson has coached Hall of Famers, Cy Young winners, and many other elite athletes. In this book, he and bestselling author and leadership expert, Judd Hoekstra make this skill available to everyone. From an insider's perspective, learn how you too can become a Crunch Time performer and perform your best in all situations. With fascinating behind-the-scenes examples from some of the top names in sports and business, Rick and Judd offer six powerful reframing strategies to help you see a pressure situation with a new perspective so that it shifts from a threat that can make you panic to an opportunity for you to shine. With a Forward by "Money Ball”, Billy Beane, EVP, Oakland Athletics.

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781626567696
Publisher: Berrett-Koehler Publishers
Publication date: 01/23/2017
Pages: 200
Product dimensions: 5.90(w) x 8.50(h) x 0.70(d)

About the Author

Rick Peterson is one of the most successful coaches in professional sports and has a unique ability to empower others to perform at their best.

Judd Hoekstra is a bestselling author, a vice president at The Ken Blanchard Companies, and an expert in making concepts universal and accessible.

Billy Beane is Executive Vice President of Baseball Operations for the Oakland Athletics. He has been with the organization since 1993.

Read an Excerpt

Crunch Time

How To Be Your Best When It Matters Most

By Rick Peterson, Judd Hoekstra

Berrett-Koehler Publishers, Inc.

Copyright © 2017 Rick Peterson and Judd Hoekstra
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-62656-771-9


Reframing — The Shortest Path from Threat to Opportunity

If opportunity doesn't knock, build a door.


At its core, reframing describes the skill of consciously and intentionally thinking about a situation in a new or different way. This, in turn, allows us to shift the meaning we attach to the situation, the actions we take, and the results we achieve. The operative word in our definition is skill. In other words, it's not something some are gifted with and others are not. With practice, reframing can be learned by anyone.

Blanchard Executive Coach Kate Larsen shared the following analogy with me to describe how reframing works. You hop into your car and start the engine. The radio is already on and is playing a song on one of your preset stations. The song is like the voice in your head (a.k.a. your self-talk), often filled with emotion. The preset station is the equivalent of a long-held assumption or belief.

The volume is low and you may not be paying attention to what's playing. It's just on in the background as you drive and think about other things. Then you decide to turn up the volume. Now you are aware of the song that's playing. Let's assume, in this case, the song is one you do not like. Being aware of the song you don't like is the equivalent of consciously paying attention to your negative self-talk.

You now have a choice. You can keep listening to the song and let it affect your thoughts and your emotions. Or you can check out what else is playing by changing the station. Changing the station to identify better songs is the equivalent of identifying different and better thoughts that are likely to lead to better actions and better outcomes.

Taking this analogy one step further, we used to live in a world where, based on the number of radio stations we could access, we were limited in the songs we could choose. Sometimes, no matter how hard we tried, we just couldn't find a song we liked on the radio. We no longer live in that world. We live in a world where we can create custom playlists loaded with our favorite songs for every occasion. In a similar fashion, Chapters 3–8 provide a playlist of reframes you can use to be your best at crunch time.

It's important to highlight that reframing is not about pretending everything is perfect and positive. It is about finding different ways of interpreting a less-than-ideal situation. The resulting new frame leads to a different meaning, which leads to better actions and better results. Just as important, you feel better about how you handle the situation.

The skill of reframing is useful for many situations — in particular those in which you feel an uncomfortable degree of pressure, anxiety, or stress. Here are a few examples.

1. In the late 1980s, a parasitic insect named phylloxera threatened to destroy vineyards and bring Napa Valley wineries to their knees. The projected cost of replanting the grapes was $25,000 to $75,000 an acre. This didn't even take into account the opportunity cost of a five-year wait for new vines to bear fruit.

In spite of the financial and time investment costs, a few growers did replant. One of those growers, Jack Cakebread at Cakebread Cellars, recalls, "Phylloxera was the greatest opportunity the valley has ever had. It was an unbelievable opportunity!

"How often in your life do you get a chance to go back and say, 'Hey, if I had this to do over again, I'd do it this way'? We had all the new technology. We had root stocks. We had clones of varieties you are looking at now. We had spacing. We had soil analysis we never had before. It was just a dream!"

Cakebread Cellars, producer of 75,000 cases of wine per year, is now one of the most highly esteemed and successful wineries in Napa Valley. Where others saw despair, Jack Cakebread saw hope. He saw the chance to start anew.

2. During the Korean War, the Chinese communists had overrun the Yalu River. The Marines battling the Chinese were in a running fight to reach the coast. Ten Chinese divisions surrounded Colonel Lewis Burwell Puller's 1st Marines. The unyielding Colonel saw the dire situation from a unique perspective: "Those poor bastards," Puller said. "They've got us right where we want them. We can fire in any direction now!"

3. When President Ronald Reagan was running for reelection in 1984, he was the oldest president to have ever served. At age 73, there were many questions about Reagan's capacity to endure the grueling demands of the presidency. On October 7, Reagan performed poorly in the first debate against his opponent, Democratic candidate Walter Mondale. Among other mistakes, Reagan admitted to being "confused."

Two weeks later, in the next debate, Mondale made a comment that implied Reagan's advanced age was an issue voters should be concerned about. Reagan's comeback was priceless. He joked, "I will not make age an issue of this campaign. I am not going to exploit, for political purposes, my opponent's youth and inexperience" Mondale himself laughed at Reagan's joke. With that humorous reframe, Reagan effectively neutralized the age issue, ended Mondale's campaign, and steamrolled to reelection.

In each of these examples, where it might be natural to feel overwhelmed and threatened, these individuals saw opportunity.

While reframing can be used in a variety of contexts, this book focuses on helping you perform your best under pressure. On that note, I want to make an important point; you need to calibrate your expectations with reality. It is unrealistic to expect to perform better under pressure than you perform under calm conditions. As a result, your goal under pressure is to perform at a level equal to how you typically perform when there is no pressure.

Seven Reasons Reframing Is Priceless

Let's have a look at seven reasons why reframing is an incredibly valuable skill.

1. As I stated earlier, reframing is a skill that, with practice, can be learned.

2. In today's world, it can be argued that time is our most valuable resource. While the 10,000-hour rule to master a new skill is true for many skills, who has 10,000 hours to spare? We're constantly on the lookout for life hacks — tricks that not only produce great results, but do so in record time. Reframing is as quick as coming up with a new thought, which can be measured in seconds.

3. In addition to being fast, reframing is efficient. It redirects your attention toward the opportunity before you rather than toward what could go wrong. This enables you to use your energy wisely.

4. Unlike dunking a basketball or becoming a supermodel, reframing is not limited to those who have won the genetic lottery. Reframing also knows no economic boundaries. It can and has been used by the extremely rich, the extremely poor, and everyone in between. Reframing is available to everyone.

5. Also, to reframe, we don't need to be in the office, or in front of our laptops or smart phones, or on a practice field. We can reframe while we're driving, talking a walk, mowing the lawn, and so on. Because the skill resides in our mind, reframing can help you anytime, anywhere.

6. Reframing applies in all different types of pressure situations. It applies at work as you seek to solve problems, make presentations, or beat your quota. It applies in academics as you take exams. It applies in your personal life as you sing a solo in the church choir or play in a big game.

7. In addition to being a skill you can use to help yourself, reframing is a key skill you can use to teach and positively influence others. When Martin Luther King, Jr. spoke at the March on Washington in 1963 and gave his famous "I Have a Dream" speech, he reframed the civil rights movement from a struggle of mighty proportions to an inspiring dream embraced by many.

Now that we have shared examples and you know more about reframing, let's shift to understanding how pressure affects your mind and body.

How Does Pressure Affect Your Mind and Body?

When we're under pressure, we can think about the situation in one of two ways — either as a threat or as an opportunity.

Whether you view the situation as a threat or opportunity depends on how you answer this question for yourself: "Do I have what it takes to handle this situation?"

When you answer "no," you view the situation as a threat. The perception of pressure situations as a threat hurts our performance. Why? With threat thinking, your mind is typically filled with thoughts and feelings that

* You have little to no control over the situation.

* You're filled with anxiety, fear, worry, and doubt.

* You're focused on trying to avoid failure and its devastating consequences.

These thoughts and emotions, in turn, trigger responses we're all familiar with: butterflies in your stomach, sweaty palms, dry mouth and throat, and tense muscles, to name a few. In addition, threat thinking leads to an increased heart rate and the production of performance-crippling chemicals such as cortisol — a.k.a. the stress hormone. In heavy doses triggered by threat, cortisol causes your blood vessels to constrict, limiting the amount of oxygen and glucose that reach your muscles and brain. This, in turn, compromises your ability to make good decisions and perform at the level you're capable of under less stressful conditions.

Before Rick's visit to the mound in the bottom of the 9 inning, Izzy felt — in a word — threatened.

In contrast, when you answer "yes" to the question "Do I have what it takes to handle this?" you view the situation as an opportunity. With opportunity thinking, your mind is typically filled with thoughts and feelings that

* You're in control.

* You're confident.

* You're focused on the success you view as being within your grasp.

These thoughts and emotions, in turn, trigger a performance-enhancing response from your body's internal pharmacy. Like threat thinking, opportunity thinking also causes your body to respond with an increased heart rate. However, unlike threat thinking that releases cortisol in large amounts that hinder us, opportunity thinking releases dopamine, the feel-good neurotransmitter.

Dopamine causes your blood vessels to dilate, increasing the amount of oxygen and glucose getting to your muscles and brain. This, in turn, helps you make good decisions and perform at the level you're capable of under normal conditions.

Learning the skill to get yourself into opportunity thinking for pressure situations is critical for performing your best. After Rick's visit to the mound in the bottom of the 9 inning, Izzy saw the opportunity.

In essence, your mind is filled with beliefs that can either hurt you or help you. These beliefs, in turn, spark an internal pharmacy within your body that releases chemicals that can also hurt you or help you.

The Mind-Body Connection

Consider the following well-known example to illustrate the point that your mind and body are inextricably linked.

Task 1 Imagine you are asked to walk 50 yards on a bridge. The bridge is the width of a sidewalk, has no guard rails, and is 1 foot off the ground. What thoughts are going through your head? How does your body feel? How likely are you to succeed? What are the consequences if you fail? How important is this task to you?

Task 2 Now imagine you are asked to walk 50 yards on a bridge that is the width of a sidewalk and has no guard rails. This time, however, the bridge is 1,000 feet in the air, over a stadium full of people. What thoughts are going through your head? How does your body feel? How likely are you to succeed? What are the consequences if you fail? How important is this task to you?

In both tasks, the physical requirements of you are the same — walk 50 yards on a bridge that is the width of a sidewalk and has no guard rails. However, you likely had very different inner reactions to the tasks in terms of the thoughts that went through your head and how your body felt. The reason you had different reactions to the task is due to the significant difference in the consequences of failure between the two tasks. There is little to no pressure in Task 1, and you likely have a high degree of confidence you will succeed. With Task 2, however, the dire consequences of failure lead to threat thinking. Confidence likely wanes and your focus shifts from the act of walking on the sidewalk to falling down from 1,000 feet in the air.

As you can see from this simple example, it's not the physical requirements of a task that cause us to feel threatened. Rather, it's our perception of the requirements that cause us to feel threatened.

Most often, pressure comes from within, not from others. Consequently, the best response also comes from within — by learning how to modify our thinking. The answer is learning how to reframe.

While you may be ready to acknowledge the value of reframing, you may be wondering why it's so critical to use this skill in pressure-packed situations. Let's find out.


Why Reframing at Crunch Time Is Necessary

There is one thing I know. Never ever in history has panic ever solved anything. It's literally never happened.

—STEVEN SODERBERGH, Palme d'Or winner at the Cannes Film Festival, Academy Award winner for Best Director

Our brains are magnificent and powerful organs with ultrafast processing speeds. A team of researchers using the fourth fastest supercomputer in the world — the K computer at the Riken research institute in Kobe, Japan — simulated one second of human brain activity. They did so by creating an artificial neural network of 1.73 billion nerve cells connected by 10.4 trillion synapses. While this is impressive, the researchers were not able to simulate the brain's activity in real time. In fact, it took 40 minutes with the combined muscle of 82,944 processors in the K computer to get just 1 second of biological brain processing time.

In order to operate at this breakneck speed, your brain uses shortcuts. It reflexively assesses a situation and tries to make meaning. One such shortcut is our instinctual fight, flight, or freeze response in the face of a perceived threat. Consider a situation where you are being chased down the street by the neighborhood pit bull. Your brain signals danger. Your brain then floods your body with chemical impulses that tell your body to fight, flee, or freeze. All of this happens in an instant, without your conscious thought.

While our fight, flight, or freeze reflexive reaction serves as valuable protection to physical threats, it's not relevant when applied to most modern-day pressure situations. Public speaking, for example, is not an imminent threat to your physical safety even though it might feel as if you're going to die from doing it. But in our mind's eye, we perceive a pressure situation as a threat or as an opportunity. Viewing pressure as a threat harms our performance. Unfortunately, our reflexive reaction to pressure is threat.

How Our Mind Works Under Pressure

To learn about why our reflexive reaction to pressure is threat, we need to understand some basics about how the human brain works. Our goal is not to turn you into a neuroscientist. Instead, we will translate the science of the brain into simple and practical terms.

When you have an easy-to-understand, working model of your brain, you can begin to use this knowledge to your benefit. Our goal is for you to apply these teachings in your own life — to override your primal, reflexive reaction to pressure and consciously choose a different, performance-enhancing response.

If we look at how our mind operates under pressure, it's helpful to consider three key regions of the brain and how scientists and psychologists can help us understand the mechanics of how we handle pressure.

* The Caveman (a.k.a. the reptilian complex)

* The Conscious Thinker (a.k.a. the neocortex)

* The Hard Drive (a.k.a. the limbic system)

The Caveman (applicable to both men and women; I'll use Caveman throughout for simplicity's sake) lives in the brain stem and cerebellum. It is the threat center of your brain. The Caveman's goal is simple — to survive. It is constantly on patrol, looking for danger. When faced with a threat, the Caveman's instantaneous reaction is fight, flight, or freeze. This reaction is the Caveman's most frequently used and most important instinct.

In prehistoric times, when many threats were physical in nature, the Caveman's fight, flight, or freeze reaction served as a successful survival response. By natural selection, the people with the fastest and strongest Caveman had the highest survival rate.


Excerpted from Crunch Time by Rick Peterson, Judd Hoekstra. Copyright © 2017 Rick Peterson and Judd Hoekstra. Excerpted by permission of Berrett-Koehler Publishers, Inc..
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Table of Contents

Preface xiii

Foreword xvii

Introduction: Rick and Izzy 1

1 Refraining-The Shortest Path from Threat to Opportunity 7

2 Why Reframing at Crunch Time Is Necessary 19

3 Reframing from Trying Harder to Trying Easier 37

4 Reframing from Tension to Laughter 55

5 Reframing from Anxiety to Taking Control 69

6 Reframing from Doubt to Confidence 85

7 Reframing from Failure to a Learning Moment 101

8 Reframing from Prepared to Overprepared 121

Final Thoughts 139

A Index of Stories 141

B Try This 146

Acknowledgments 151

About the Authors 155

Endnotes 159

Index 167

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