Performing Under Pressure From the Top of the World
When the stakes are high and everything is on the line - it's our preparation for the moment that dictates success or failure.
In our quest for ultimate performance we set out to find how the best of the best prepare for and perform in high-pressure situations. That's why we teamed up with Megaton athlete Jayson Simons-Jones to understand his mindset when it comes to performing under pressure. Jayson is an elite mountain guide (and bad-ass adventure photographer) who leads expeditions in some of the most remote locations and extreme conditions. If there's anyone who knows about performing under pressure, it's Jayson. We asked him to share his perspective. Enjoy!
"Performing as a Mountain Guide has a different set of perceived pressures, then say a professional sports athlete, or the competitive athlete in an event. I do not compete against others, or the mountains. Not that I don’t like or support that type of competition (as I think it is incredibly inspiring and motivating ), it just doesn’t have a place as a Mountain Guide working or playing in the mountains.
Instead, the pressure I feel to perform is intrinsic and put on myself for no other reason then to do good at my job. To be efficient, safe, and to provide the best experience possible for my guests while minimizing risk for them and myself. As well, I continually put pressure on myself to be a good example. To be an example of the utmost professional standard when it comes to efficiency and safety in moving in the mountains whether on skis, rock, or ice. I may not always succeed in always being that, but it is internal pressure I put on myself to perform that way at least, every time I walk out the door.
Many times as a guide things go quite smoothly and dare I say….expected and manageable. Occasionally, they do not. And that is where the preparation for performing under pressure comes in. It may be a storm or bad weather or darkness threatening that means making quick decisions and movements in technical environments quickly, or it may be the pressure of a big winter storm cycle increasing avalanche danger, and having to forecast snow stability and ski options in the morning amongst a meeting of guides before clients arrive for the day. Lots of situations seem to deem performing under pressure as a necessary tool to success for a Mountain Guide.
I try and train for this through 3 distinct categories so as to be able to perform as needed when pressures increase or arise due to a variety of circumstances.
Part 1 of the program is staying physically fit and capable enough with the actual movement standards of the job at the time…skiing; climbing; or mountaineering.
Part 2 of the program is making sure to stay fresh and practiced with the many possible technical scenarios presented by each discipline, environment, and client group is essential too…albeit efficient rope work, mountain travel, winter avalanche forecasting and ski touring guiding, or rescue systems.
Part 3 of the program is mental training through research, learning, education, and practice to help stay mentally engaged and situationally aware, so as to be able to react logically and mindfully when pressure performance situations arise, that allow me to stay calm and focused and rely on my training and expertise to solve the problem or handle the situation that has presented itself to me.
It is a difficult balance to try and focus on all 3 of these categories, but the sheer joy and reward I intrinsically gain in helping people attain goals and increase their skills and ability in the technical mountain realm in ways they had maybe never though possible, has been my motivation to continue to strive to better myself and my professional career standards on myself for the past 18 years. And a little Megaton Coffee along the way seems to help when motivation wanes every now and again ;-) "
If you're as obsessed within Jayson's photos and story as we are, then definitely check out more of his work here:
Guiding Website: www.LotusAlpineAdventures.com
Jayson is an IFMGA/UIAGM Licensed Mountain Guide, and Owner of Lotus Alpine Adventures, LLC that calls the mountains of Colorado and Chamonix, France home. Originally from Upstate NY, Jayson has successfully guided alpine climbing and skiing expeditions on 5 of the 7 continents over the scope of his 18 year guiding career. As well, he has had his writing and photography featured in such publications as: The New York Times, The Denver Post, Outside Magazine, Ski Magazine, Climbing Magazine, and Backcountry Magazine. He career also includes being an AIARE Level 1 & 2 Pro Trainer and Avalanche Course Leader; an Instructor for the Wilderness Medicine Institute of NOLS; and a former Avalanche Forecaster & Board Member for the Crested Butte Avalanche Center. Currently Jayson splits his time guiding, photographing, and managing guiding programs between Colorado and Chamonix, and when not climbing, skiing, or trail running, he spends the rest of his time pursuing his adventure photography business @LotusAlpinePhoto.com