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Photo by Madeleine Schwartz
Photo by Madeleine Schwartz

Photo by Madeleine Schwartz

Book: Clutch: Why Some People Excel Under Pressure and Others Don’t
Author: Paul Sullivan
Genre: Self-Improvement

Paul Sullivan’s book revolves around this definition: “Clutch, simply put, is the ability to do what you can normally under immense pressure.”

The word clutch is usually thrown around when discussing sports and athletes but in reality, and certainly to Sullivan, being clutch has nothing to do with athleticism. Men and women, lawyers and teachers, can all possess the ability to be clutch. There are even examples that prove it.

Clutch is comprised of 11 chapters that give real-life examples of people who perform well under pressure and more importantly, explain why they do so. Sullivan interviews well known sports stars like Tiger Woods and Tampa pitcher David Price but also CEO’s of National banks and Army Sergeants. He analyzes how they have become successful in accordance with his clutch definition. By doing this, he points out five attributes that allow someone to act well under pressure.

Focus: A clutch performer is looking with tunnel vision towards his goal. No distractions or day dreams allowed.

Discipline: Know what your goal is and stay on it. Preparation is key.

Adaptability: To be able to change your plan at a moment’s notice takes skill. Life often causes us to rearrange our plans and to be able to roll with the punches is crucial to being clutch.

Being Present: Live in the moment. Forget about past mistakes or future earnings. The only way to succeed in the present is to be there with bells and whistles on.

Fear V.S Desire: Both fear and desire are excellent motivators but both are needed to make someone clutch. If motivated by a single one, a person’s judgment and ability to think clearly is lost.

If these five categories are broken down and simplified, they can be used for more than just trying to perform well under immense pressure. To do well in school you must be more than just smart. Great students are focused and have discipline in regards to their work. The same goes for being a skilled artist or talented musician. Having all five of these attributes helps separate the good from the great no matter the subject.

Sullivan’s book has been filed under the self-improvement genre, if it really constitutes as a real category, but I chose to review it because everyone, especially college students are faced with extreme stress at one point or another. Whether it is finals week or a day that is so filled up with meetings and classes that you can’t even stop to think, we all need to be able to find our inner clutch.

While Clutch is a worth-while read, I think that to get the most out of it, one should look at the big picture that Sullivan is getting at. Whether or not we eventually want to be in a position that forces us to think well under extreme pressure, like a CEO or major league ball player, learning how to perform well under any amount of stress is important. I thought this book was a great one because it is helpful to anyone going into any career.

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