When the Pressure’s On, Turn Stress Into Personal Excellence


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If you are tired of creating more goals than achievements, then "When the Pressure's On" should be your next read. Written by a retired West Point Colonel, Army officer, and psychology instructor who consults with leaders in ultracompetitive arenas, this book provides a simple five-point model for powerful goal-setting action that will crush your procrastination.

When the Pressure's On, Turn Stress Into an Engine for Personal Excellence

All of us recognize that we have pressure in our lives. There are plenty of resources (to-do lists, productivity apps, Gantt charts, Post-It Notes, etc.) to deal with that. There are certain times, however, when we need a new level of productivity, when we need to perform in a situation where the stakes are higher than usual (like a high-stakes presentation or interview with an influencer).

Louis S. Csoka’s, When the Pressure’s On is about training for those times before they happen.

What is When the Pressure’s On About?

As a guy who has experienced high-pressure environments (West Point graduate and instructor, U.S. Army officer, Vietnam War veteran, C-level executive in a billion-dollar company), Csoka noticed that Olympic athletes and business people often experience the same kind of pressure to perform. Both are required to demonstrate their value through numbers. Both face an incredibly competitive landscape.

This led Csoka on a journey into the world of peak performance. He wanted to know how athletes were able to perform at such levels, given the super-competitive landscape they faced day in and day out. He wanted to help leaders of all types (particularly business leaders) be able to apply the lessons and insight he gained from those peak performers. This book, the US Military Academy’s Performance Enhancement Center, and a world-recognized mental performance training institute (known as Peak Performance Center) were the result.

At its core, the book focuses on a “5-Point Plan” which highlights five key areas that Csoka feels are important for top performance. His goal is not to provide another “goal-setting” book, but to detail how to improve performance overall. He does this by adding new dimensions to the goal-setting steps (visualization, imagery, etc.) which he asserts are based on research into the neuroplasticity of the brain. Neuroplasticity is the ability of the brain to change itself based on the environment and the thoughts we give it. By changing how we think and improving the settings in which we think (aka our health), Csoka believes we can reach the highest levels of our performance, no matter what they are.

Csoka is a retired U.S. Army Colonel, instructor, consultant, former human resources executive and founder of Apex Performance. He graduated from West Point, earned a Ph.D. and served as Army officer in Vietnam and other areas.

In addition to all this, Csoka developed the Performance Enhancement Center, a center based on his ideas of peak performance. He went on to develop a similar world-renown Peak Performance Center. He is currently serving as the founder of Apex Performance  and on various boards and organizations.

What Was Best About When the Pressure’s On?

The best part of When the Pressure’s On is the simple way Csoka is able to contribute value to the “goal-setting” conversation that business leaders and others have had for years. Csoka’s advice is actually very simple, but it taps into a deeper insight because of his background. Csoka researched the psychology of the brain, but also saw that research put into practice in his own life, at the U.S. Military Academy, and while observing high-performing athletes.

In short, Csoka knows exactly where to pinpoint his content to make a strong and helpful impact.

What Could Have Been Done Differently

While this book does an absolutely incredible job of detailing peak performance under pressure, it surprisingly lacks concrete examples of business people who implemented the “5-Point Plan” from start to finish (and the result). The book is more of a guide to the top highlights and insights that worked for people who Csoka worked with or who came to his center. More attention to a variety of businesses and individuals might open up the spectrum of people who feel inspired by this book.

Why Read When the Pressure’s On?

When the Pressure’s On is an awesome read for any person who feels the need to perform well under extremely stressful conditions (which is really just about everyone these days). It is particularly well suited for executive leaders and sales people who feel even more pressure to “show the numbers” (demonstrate their value to a company) on a regular basis. The book provides the missing link between goal-setting and consistent goal achievement that is critical in that kind of high-pressure environment.

3 Comments ▼
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Charles Franklin


Charles Franklin Charles Franklin is a Book Reviewer for Small Business Trends. He has a background as a professional reviewer, and is also a content provider and customer relations professional.

3 Reactions

  1. Martin Lindeskog

    Charles: I will check out this book! Do you know if it is available as an audiobook on Audible?

  2. Thanks, sounds like a really helpful book, lots of useful tips, I like the idea of “prethinking” events. Ed Smith oneminutemotivators.com.

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