5 (more) Things I Learned from Sir Clive Woodward – about Pressure

Sir Clive Woodward & Mary Collin

You might remember my previous blog – 5 Things I Learned from Sir Clive Woodward about Know How . . . that was part 1 of 4 ‘Lessons’ from the Former England Rugby Head Coach.  Clive’s Masterclass organized by Nigel Botterill & Entrepreneurs Circle covered 4 areas:

1 – Know How –  previous blog (1 of 4)

2 – Pressure – this is my focus today in blog 2 of 4)

and ‘coming soon’ are the two other areas he shared plenty of nuggets on:

3 – Teamship

4 – Attitude


So let’s ‘kick off’ with the 5 Things I learned about ‘Pressure‘ – some are easier/faster than others to action and implement:


  1. TCUP
    I loved Clive’s ‘TCUP:  Thinking Correctly Under Pressure’ mantra.  He shared some great stories and examples of how people can learn to perform well under pressure.  (I confessed to a chuckle when we watched the memorable moment when Johnny Wilkinson’s accurate kick won the World Cup.  That wasn’t the funny bit – it was Clive saying ‘yes, but if he hadn’t missed a couple of earlier ones then we wouldn’t have been under quite so much pressure at that stage!’ ;-)  Funny how we can forget things when someone DOES think (and perform) correctly under pressure.  Johnny certainly delivered when it mattered most!  They key word, Sir Clive reminded us, was ‘correctly’.

    So a big take way here for me was about preparing for those moments of pressure.  Rehearsing, training, getting ready.

  2. ‘What if . . . ?’ scenarios
    In the spirit of preparing for those moments, he shared with us examples of how he’d seen others train for pressure.  An inspiring example was the number of different scenarios that the Royal Marine Officers run through to prepare them for when they are out in the field.  They do an immense amount of preparation, running all kinds/variations of scenarios to help them perform at their best when it really counts.  When they were asked (about real life scenarios) ‘did it play out how you’d prepared for it?’ the answer usually came back ‘no, not quite’  but it was clear that the preparation was critical to being as ready as you possibly could be.

    Interesting when he then told us their average age was just 22.  Hmm, how well do we prepare ourselves for pressure in business?

  3. Focus on the Real Key Areas
    This linked back to the Know How I covered in my earlier blog.  Identifying the really KEY areas in your business and then ‘running scenarios’, applying pressure, responding, then discussing.  So, imagine you’re sitting in your business, anticipating the future (a particular event or situation) and making sure you cover every angle . . . ‘what could happen?'; ‘what if x happens?’, ‘how will we handle it?’ .  Clearly, doing this on the most important areas of your business will make a significant difference.

    We’re applying this in our team to our follow up processes and our sales process.

  4. Learning from Experience – your own and others!
    It’s always easier to critique than to create, easier to see what others are doing (sometimes harder to see our own opportunities!) so sharing is a great way to accelerate your performance.  We touched on this under the ‘collaboration‘ point last time too, so this is a recurring theme.

    This is where a team can run scenarios as a group – like those Royal Marine Officers – put each other under pressure in a role-playing situation for example (so in a safe environment) then debrief and discuss the learning.  It’s important that everyone on the team contributes so the maximum learning and value is pulled out of the exercise.  This is all about coaching through pressure situations in a safer environment so you’re ready out in the field.  Use your ‘Team Room’ to get yourself ready so you feel practised, prepared and strong enough to handle whatever is thrown at you.

  5. Excuses, Blame or Ownership?
    At the masterclass we watched some staggering examples of people NOT thinking correctly under pressure and performing way below their normal high standards.  There were some uncomfortable, but hugely valuable, examples of Olympic Teams who coped poorly with external distractions.  Some would ‘blame’ the distractors, others would make excuses while some just ignored it, focussed and got on with their work.

    We all get distractions in life and business.  What’s interesting is to look at how we handle them.  Do we zone out the ‘noise’ and focus on our own standards and performance?  Those who do can achieve some stunning victories (as we saw in some synchronised swimming examples).

Sir Clive’s content and delivery was world class and inspiring.  His real passion for helping people build High Performing Teams shone through.  He was friendly and helpful, making time to speak to everyone who wanted to speak with him.  A gentleman, a visionary and a leader – I’m loving revisiting my notes from the session so that I can review, implement more of the things I learned, and share them with you.

In the next blog I’ll be sharing my top 5 learnings on Teamship and, after that, on Attitude

I loved the feedback on the first of these 4 blogs, so do let me know if this prompts you to take action, and what.




Mini bio:  Mary lives and works with her partner, Andy Gwynn, in the Midlands (UK).  They are passionate about helping businesses grow.  They are focussed on building a Franchised team of coaches and trainers – specialising in Linkedin – to help businesses maximise the potential of this powerful platform.  They support their team in building great businesses so that their team can support business owners and leaders throughout the UK and overseas.  Find out more at www.3degreessocial.co.uk 


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