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5P's of Processing Pressure - PRACTISE

What if this goes wrong? Belinda had taken time to pause, to not rush in. She had thought about the issues and what were her best options. She had spoken to her senior colleagues and shared what she had intended to do. She had completed the first four of the 5P’s of processing pressure.

  • Pause

  • Ponder

  • Partner

  • Present

She now just needed to put it into ‘practise’ and into action. But she couldn’t stop the nagging doubt. What if it goes wrong?

A lot of life seems like high stakes moments and so this fuels our desire for perfectionism to avoid the horror for getting it wrong. So how do you help yourself just put it into practise.


The first way to help manage your confidence is to realise that you don’t have to have a full roll out straight away. Sometimes there is the option of running a trial rollout. Taking some people to test how effective it is and iron out problems. Pull together a team of people with a range of interests. Take a couple of cynics and a few flag wavers and get them to trial the idea. This way you can see if it does work and iron out the issues, meaning the full rollout is likely to be successful.

Emergency Procedures

One thing is for sure, in high pressure moments there is cortisol, the stress hormone, that can affect our thinking. Therefore, anything you can do to plan for high pressure moments, can help. When I was a headteacher, we had emergency procedures we had planned for. We planned for evacuation of the site and had it written down, so in the event everyone knew what they were doing. We even practised it when there was not the stress. Therefore, when we had a bomb scare on the school site, people knew what to do. Practising enables the real emergency event to run smoothly. It also gives some templates that can be used in similar events. We had practised evacuation for a fire on site, so when a bomb scare came the same model could be used. Taking time to think about the sorts of things that could go wrong and writing down some basic plans helps to turn to when things are stressful. A debrief afterwards helps you learn and grow from it and put it into the next improved version of the plan.

Best you can, with all you have, in this moment that you are in.

The High-Performance Podcast has a great phrase to help you in these moments, ‘Best you can, with all you have, in this moment that you are in’. If it is one of those scenarios where you can’t run a trial, where you must make a decision and implement it, then there are some key steps to take.

1. Gather the facts and opinion from helpful colleagues.

2. Ask yourself, what actions will gain us the best outcome we can from the information we have to hand at this time?

3. Remind yourself that this decision is, the ‘best you can, with all you have, in this moment that you are in’.

Later, with hindsight and more information, there may well be an even better decision. But in this moment, this is the best decision that can be made.


Your confidence in putting it into practise will be helped by clarity. Establishing a) Clear outcomes, b) clear steps, c) clear roles for people and d) clear review points enable you to feel confident, people to know what they are doing and clear review points for you to step in and respond if it looks like things are not going to plan.


High pressure moments are never easy. You will discover a lot about yourself and others in these moments. What helps bring confidence and get things more right than wrong is following the 5P’s.

  • Pause – give yourself some thinking time.

  • Ponder – think about what you want to achieve, the current reality, the options you have and the best way forward

  • Partner – Ask for help from those around you. There is not normally silo thinking in a crisis. People pull together and it gives you confidence knowing people are with you

  • Present – Tell those around you, and yourself, what you intend to do. It allows you to check and balance and avoid any final errors

  • Practise – thinking about pressure moments and having some simple plans for these moments helps and when you put things into practise, having clear steps and roles for everyone helps it to be more successful.

For more on the topic of processing pressure, The Everyday Leader Leadership Lounge Podcast has Colin Tapscott and Anna Hennell James discussing ‘Processing Pressure’. Click the links below to hear more about it.

If you would like help to review and reframe your pressure, contact us at Everyday Leader. We can empower you to gain clarity with some simple questions to help you understand and manage it better. Give us a call at 01449 710438 or email if you would like us to help you explore this and empower you.


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