Stress is a significant influence

Stress is an obstacle for us all, most often being harmful to performance whether it is a big test, big game or big presentation. It impacts both your memory and confidence causing self-doubt.

John Smoltz, the retired baseball pitcher was known for his ability to perform well in big games. But, he would tell folks he was not elevating his game, he was able to perform at the same level, as the stress made opponents play worse. This is a reason coaches like to replicate stressful game situations in practice to prepare players, but it is hard to emulate actual game stress.

Malcolm Gladwell wrote in his latest book, “Talking to Strangers,” how stress affects people’s ability to remember things. One of the subjects he delved into is PTSD due to torture made it a less effective means to get information from prisoners. A famous terrorist who planned the 9/11 attacks revealed over thirty pieces of information with torture, but most of it was fabrication. About 1/2 of the pieces of infotmation occurred after the terrorist was jailed. He would say anything to stop the torture. This is a one reason former Senator and Vietnam POW John McCain was not too keen on the US torturing people – the other is torture demeans the image of the country doing it.

While I have written before about stress, I repeat it now after the news Brionna Taylor was killed in her own home when a botched middle-of-the-night police raid ended up with her being shot eight times. A no-knock warrant executed during the night seems to heighten stress of all concerned. She is dead and her parents are owed answers.

So, if we can minimize the stress through planning, training, and mitigation, performance will be improved. And, maybe lives will be saved.


9 thoughts on “Stress is a significant influence

  1. Stress has all sorts of manifestations, from memory loss as you mentioned, but also physical ones such as loss of appetite, loss of sleep, inability to perform simple functions, and ultimately heart troubles. But … fact is, stress is a part of our everyday lives anymore. How do we stop it? We likely cannot, so we must find ways to deal. I’m still working on that one!

    • Jill, so true. How do we manage it? To me, some form of daily regimen helps – walking, yoga/ pilates/ aerobics, meditation, book reading, tub soaking, etc. Do something as a gift to yourself. Even if it is only ten minutes, those minutes are well invested. Keith

  2. Well said. I would only add that another reason torture is to be avoided is that it is immoral. It violates every known ethical and religious code known to humanity.

    • Thank you, Keith! Appreciate your share and your writing as well. I am grateful to see Breonna Taylor’s name mentioned here. In addition to the stress of the late-night entry, I pray there is an investigation done and some real change implemented in this police department.

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