Peak Performance and Managing Stress

Empowering Extraordinary[su_dropcap style=”flat”]I[/su_dropcap] RECENTLY SAW THE FILM, Bridge of Spies, with Tom Hanks. Based upon a true story, Hanks plays the role of James Donovan, an insurance attorney who is asked to defend a Russian Spy during the cold war. As you can predict, Donovan was not a popular man during the defense trial. Throughout the entire story, Donovan is faced with challenging and stressful situations that could have rendered him full of fear and a desire to walk away. Instead, he maintained heroic strength held up by his profound values of human justice and righteousness. In the face of adversity, he maintained what most of us strive for – peak performance no matter how stressful and intolerable the situation became.

Hand in hand with peak performance includes flexibility, stress tolerance, and optimism, the three components of stress management in the emotional intelligence (EI) assessment. How we handle ourselves during challenging times can address whether or not we are high in this area of EI. When faced with adversity there are questions that you can ask yourself to see whether you are handling the situation well or not. And, it is important to consider how others view you during these stressful times.

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FLEXIBILITY – The ability to adapt our thoughts, behaviors and emotions.

  • How flexible are you to change? Are you rigid and set in your ways or open?
  • How do others view you regarding change? Do they see you open to new ideas and suggestions or fixed?
  • When confronted with an environment where people are resistant to change, how do you successfully manage bringing about the shift? In the film mentioned above, the CIA did not want Donovan to make any changes, yet he successfully brought about a better outcome. How did he manage going against them?
  • What are your emotions when asked to make a change?
  • Do you need predictability or are you able to flow and adjust as needed?
  • Are you too flexible, appearing to lack conviction? Too much flexibility can be as detrimental as no flexibility.


  • Are you able to remain calm under pressure?
  • If so, what skills and techniques have you cultivated to maintain your calmness?
  • When feeling stressed, where do you feel it in your body? How does it manifest itself? Emotionally? Physically? Through actions or inaction, i.e. the fight or flight response?
  • How do you know you are stressed?
  • Are you able to detect the onset of stress in your body or does it go unnoticed?
  • How do you approach stressful situations? Are you able to address it or do you avoid it?
  • What situations are stressful for you? Are you proactively managing these situations or do you avoid them hoping they do not manifest?
  • Do your peers see you as too calm and relaxed? If so, do they perceive you as not caring?


  • During difficult situations, what helps you remain optimistic?
  • Is your optimism grounded or do you override being realistic with too much optimism and positivity?
  • Do you describe yourself as having positive expectations of outcomes or negative expectations?
  • Does your optimism or lack of optimism get in the way of managing and taking risks?
  • Do others view you as someone who is always negative and unable to see a good outcome?[/message]

Managing stress can be challenging and draining and if the three components are not in balance or not high, then performance suffers. Taking the EQi-2.0 assessment if a way to learn about your ability to manage and cope with change, challenges, and undue stress and the emotions associated with unpredictable circumstances. This is a report that can be helpful in professional development. Taking the EQi-2.0 assessment is an investment in your-self. Email me today and take the EQi-2.0:

Melinda Fouts, Ph.D.
Melinda Fouts, Ph.D.
Melinda is a select Columnist & Featured Contributor for BIZCATALYST 360° and a Member of the Forbes Coaches Council (comprised of Top coaches offering insights on leadership development & careers). Prior to executive coaching and leadership development, Melinda has been in private practice as a psychotherapist for almost 20 years. She leverages her strengths and insights from her psychology background to help leaders and managers in transition through increased self-awareness. Owner and founder of Success Starts with You, is based upon the premise that you are already successful. Increasing self-awareness to increase emotional intelligence and unlocking blind spots are paramount to continued success. Melinda uses assessments to help bring more awareness. Whether you are a leader or manager in transition, need a thought partner, or need to improve your professional presence, Melinda has developed unique and innovative techniques from her background to help you reach higher heights. Melinda received her Ph.D. in Jungian Psychology from Saybrook University and her Masters in Psychology from Pacifica University. Melinda has worked as a consultant with executives and businesses for over 20 years. As a result of her experience and studies, she has developed a unique craft to fine-tune leadership development for peak performance. She lives in Colorado with her big, beautiful dog, Stryder.




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