In sports, winning a title may be challenging, but retaining it is even more daunting. A marathoner who clinches a victory often struggles more in defending their title during the next race. This is true for boxing and other individual sports, as well as in team sports. The main challenge lies in the immense pressure to perform, which stems from previous successes. Once athletes achieve a certain level of success, expectations rise for them to maintain or exceed their past performances. This continuing expectation becomes difficult to sustain as the dynamics of sports constantly evolve.

This scenario extends beyond sports into everyday life. For successful individuals, whether they are business professionals, artists, or others who have proven their abilities, expectations are significantly higher compared to those at the beginning of their careers. Achievement sets a benchmark, and any deviation is often considered a failure. Sometimes, despite absolute improvements in performance, if someone else outperforms them, they are still seen as having failed.

Corporations that consistently report profits face similar judgments based on their growth rates. In the stock market, for instance, it’s not uncommon to see shares of a profitable company declining if there’s even a slight dip in their growth rate. These companies are not only expected to remain profitable but also to increase their growth percentages, which become increasingly challenging due to a higher base each year. Thus, the pressure to perform multifolds every year. 

Such pressure persists despite changing circumstances and increasing competition. People do not put into perspective all these scenarios while making assessment of the success. There is simple binary judgement which creates expectations from those who have succeeded earlier to repeat the same. Remember the pressure on the Indian cricket team to perform in the final match of the world cup this year, because they had consistently performed excellently till semi-finals? But the team crumbled under such pressure, and was badly defeated by Australia which played much professionally and systematically. Captain Rohit Sharma admitted, “We were not good enough today. We tried everything, but it didn’t work.” Clear sign of pressure on him and the team. 

Success brings expectations, which in turn result in performance pressure. This can impact the actual input in any field, be it sports, arts, or professional life. Have you also experienced such pressure? If so, how did you manage under it?

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