Let me show you an example of high-pressure situations.
You are the pilot of a single-engine small plane. You are the sole pilot of this single-engine airplane and take off over large bodies of open water. Your single-engine begins to sound strange at 800 feet above the water. You also notice that you aren’t gaining altitude as fast as you should. Your single-engine stops at around 1200 feet above the water.
This is high-pressure. What can you do?
It’s not an actual high-pressure situation, but it is for you. It was not a hypothetical situation when it happened to us several years ago.
I won’t keep you guessing, so I’ll just tell you that I survived. The plane did too. As the aircraft fell back to earth, I was capable of making a quick U-turn to land on the runway I just left.
Why did this high-pressure situation end in a happy way? It came down to two factors – the same elements that will help your high-pressure situations.
Preparation… and Focus.
I’ve been in similar situations before. My instructor took me through many, if not hundreds, of engine-out drills during flight training. Although they were performed at a higher altitude, which means that it took longer to recover, I was still able to follow the procedures. I also had just started glider training and had soloed before, so I was comfortable flying without an engine. Although not precisely the same, I felt a little bit of an “I’ve been there before” feeling. Finally, thanks to some training I had received from an instructor a week prior, I knew which angle of a bank would allow me to turn the fastest for the lowest altitude loss.
Also, I was prepared for this situation. The preparation kicked in when the trouble started. Because I’d been there before, I knew exactly what to do. The takeaway: When you find yourself in high-pressure situations, remember a time when you were able to get through similar situations. You don’t need to make it identical. It can be very similar. Remember, “I’ve been there before.” Two – prepare for high-pressure situations and practice them. You’ll be more prepared to face them when you are under pressure.
Primarily due to my training, I was able to focus when pressure struck. Analyze the problem and solve it. Nothing extraneous. There are no irrelevant thoughts. It will be embarrassing. It’ll be awkward. Who will feed the dog if I am late or worse? It’s all noise. In a high-pressure environment, it is essential to block out the noise. Takeaway: If you find yourself in high-pressure situations and hear the noise entering your brain, ask yourself, “What is the most important thing I should be focusing on right now?”
Although you may not be required to fly a plane in an emergency landing situation, there will be other high-pressure situations that you face professionally and personally. These situations will require you to be prepared and focused.