Friday, June 24, 2011

Notes from the Book: Clutch

Have you ever wondered what it takes to be "clutch?"  In his book, Clutch: Why Some People Excel Under Pressure and Others Don't New York Times columnist Paul Sullivan investigates the key characteristics that people who are clutch possess.  He also shares three behaviors that prevent people from being clutch.  Each chapter is filled with stories of individuals who demonstrate the characteristic Sullivan is describing.  He finds his examples in the various fields of sports, military, legal, theater, and the automotive, financial, marketing and real estate business.

Clutch: the ability to do what you need to do under pressure just as you would do it in practice.

What Makes People Clutch
1. Focus
2. Discipline
3. Adapting
4. Being 'Present'
5. Fear of failure and Desire for Success

What Makes People Not Clutch
1. Not Taking Personal Responsibility
2. Over-thinking
3. Overconfidence

One of my favorite stories in the book is story of how Tampa Bay Rays pitcher David Price collegiate coach Tim Corbin (Vanderbuilt University) instilled a mindset of toughness into his players. Sullivan describes how Corbin brings a marshmallow, a jelly bean, and a rock before his players.  He then holds each object over a flame.  Under the flame the marshmallow burns right up.  The jelly bean shell withstands the heat initially, but eventually melts.  The rock however, remains and evens comes out looking a bit polished.

This Corbin tells his players is what will happen to them under pressure.  The flame signifies the pressure of college baseball.  Some of the players will melt instantly like the marshmallow, others will hold up for a while but eventually their cockiness and natural talent will give way.  But there are some players, who have solidified their skills through practice and persistence, that will withstand the pressure and flourish despite it.
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