The following article and interview with All Blacks mental skills coach and MC, Gilbert Enoka, explains exactly what you can gain by participating in this event.


In every arena of life, pressure is a given. It may or may not be constant but we know it and feel it when it’s there. For most of us, pressure tends to create stress, uncertainty and even fear as we worry about consequences. The times when the consequences are very, very high can be when we most feel this common thing known as pressure.

We experience this in business, in sport and in our personal lives.

So when our top performing athletes are exposed to the extreme challenges of competition at an international level, public scrutiny and the need to be the best – how do they handle the pressure?

On 25th October, Steve Hansen, Eric Murray, Sophie Pascoe and Jimmy Spithill will be revealing their most personal experiences of performing under pressure – and what they have learned to achieve outstanding results.

As MC, All Black mental skills Coach Gilbert Enoka will be facilitating a unique interplay with these athletes, where the questions we really want to ask – the ones that give us answers for our own lives and circumstances – can be addressed and examined in the context of similar experiences the athletes have worked through.

‘There is no wrong question. People have questions that they fear asking, but my goal is to create an environment that is safe and that really supports people to ask those important questions – and get answers,’ says Gilbert who speaks about turning pressure into an asset.

‘That’s exactly why I’m keen for participants to have unfiltered access to these top athletes. They won’t just tell their story for us to say ‘oh that was tough, that was hard.’ Instead I’ll be asking them the questions that we may fear to ask. As a facilitator for this event I’m more interested in exploring the places we don’t want to go or the things we don’t want to do. That’s where we uncover the real magic.’

So if this is a unique opportunity for business to relate to sport – what are the parallels or takeaways for people seeking to understand more about performing under pressure?

Says Gilbert, ‘ Look you can call it performing under pressure, you can call it resilience, you can call it pushing through or bouncing back – but whatever you call it, it all comes down to the same place of understanding how to deal with pressure in any situation – personal, professional, sporting etc.

This Summit is the best example of people who have been there and done it. What I’ll be doing is taking their learnings and applying them to business – and to the teams, the groups, the individuals that are there. We’ll look at how the paradigms and mind sets of these elite athletes (who have learned how to perform under pressure) help businesses answer questions like how do I meet my deliverables, how do I achieve my targets, how do I set new horizons, how do I achieve new heights (professionally and for the business), how does my business get the most out of its structures and people?

That’s the lens, if you like, for translating what (four elite athletes) have learned, into takeaways for everyone who is there. You will have your own situations or circumstances you are thinking about and so we’ll make sure that what we cover is easily understood and applicable to you in your own domains and your own practice.’

The Summit is an invitation to business to complete a unique day of workshopping through key issues and questions around performing under pressure in the company of those that truly know what it takes. It is real and raw and honest.

‘To get the most from the summit it’s really important that you come along with expectations and answers that you want from it. Don’t just go there to listen to a great story, go along asking ‘what can I learn and what questions do I have that relate directly to my business and my people.’ You need to have thought about ‘what would I like to know about pressure and performance situations I encounter day to day,’ says Gilbert.

The idea is that by attending the Summit you’ll be able to challenge yourself on ‘am I heading in the right direction’ ‘when I meet challenges and obstacles, am I or my team, able to navigate through in a way that allows me or my business to achieve full potential?’ The intention is that throughout the course of the day you will be challenged to reach higher and to take away a sense of what can be used to achieve this.’

Part of the event’s appeal is that it is true to what we all experience. There will not be ‘ten tips’, or ‘the big three.’ ‘There is no magic dust, no silver bullet in all this,’ confirms Gilbert.

Instead, participants will learn a combination of skills that are a constant work-in-progress – but it’s the how and why and when to apply those skills that can make the difference. ‘It’s understanding the situations you’re in and being clear about what you’ve got to do,’ he adds.

Pressure has many faces but ultimately, it’s very personal.

‘A lot of coping, managing, or dealing with pressure is about understanding yourself,’ explains Gilbert. ‘People will often look to changes in others or to a change in the circumstances when more often than not it’s about what you bring as an individual to the moment, to navigate your way through those occasions where sometimes everything is on the line.’

For sports people this happens often. Businesses can experience this when for example there is a need to move in a direction that could have huge importance for the business and for the people who work there.

‘There is a reason for the old saying ‘as I think, I am’ but we have to be careful not to over intellectualise all this. I tend to like getting into context, so ‘you’re in this context, what are the challenges, what are the things you can do?

I’m sure that every one of these iconic athletes will talk about when their thoughts have been dark – I haven’t met a talented person yet who hasn’t been to those places.. It doesn’t mean that they are weak - we all need skills and attributes to push us through those periods where the confidence can wane and we’re not as sure as we are at other times.’

Pressure makes us feel vulnerable. This Summit is an opportunity to learn how we can turn that into something that becomes a motivation to act effectively or to develop a better understanding of the situation.

‘I’d hope that participants have the courage to ask questions for the things they have difficulty with at times too,’ says Gilbert.

‘This Summit is about audience participation and knowing that the Summit will be made by participants joining in too. If they can leverage off that participation and leave knowing that they have some different options and answers to consider for the questions they came in with, they will have the vision to see the potential for themselves and their businesses; they’ll have the foresight to connect the dots because there’s more magic in the connection between things rather than the things themselves. They’ll have the courage to ask questions, the boldness to be different; and they’ll be valuing an inquisitive mind, knowing there may be another answer – and that wherever it’s going to lead, the outcome can be successful for them and their business.

I’d love for people to come along ready to say ‘this is a situation I find challenging, how do I move through it and be more effective no matter whether I’m dealing with product or people?’

The Performing under Pressure Business Summit will appeal to anyone running a business or participating in business.

Says Gilbert Enoka, ‘Rather than trying to pigeonhole this event and asking will I or won’t I attend – the invitation is to have a look again at the line up and be ready with ‘what can I get out of this?’ Instead of saying to yourself something like ‘I can’t afford the time’ think about how if you go to an event like this and ask your questions, you could come away with something new for your business that ignites it and could be absolutely well and truly worth it. Don’t be defined by limitations, the invitation is to get out there and amongst it and if you take a really positive approach to it you’ll end up with a really productive outcome.’

For anyone considering attending the Summit, Gilbert is keen to see ‘the ones who will choose to make the most of this opportunity to get answers for themselves or their team and can see that the scope of where this can take them or their business is huge. If there is something you’re unsure about, make sure you’re there to work it.’

In other words if you want to win the lotto, you’ve got to buy a ticket. Or as Gilbert says, ‘If you want to catch a plane you’ve got to go to the airport. ‘ Brought to you by Auckland Chamber of Commerce and New Zealand Athletes’ Federation, the ‘Performing under Pressure’ Business Summit takes place at the Langham Hotel, Wednesday 25th October 2017, 8am to 3pm.