The PACE: How Mentally Tough Are You?

The 2014 NFL Draft starts this week and the players who will be selected by a professional team have been poked, prodded, measured and analyzed. They have run 40-yard dashes, trained extensively and shown off specific skill sets for their potential employers. They have taken the Wonderlic—a timed logic and reasoning test that is used to gauge calm and critical thinking in a high-pressure environment.

But in recent weeks I have talked to several top level NFL executives who have shared a new “measurable” that has risen to prominence in their breakdown of players: they are taking note of a player’s PACE— Performance After a Critical Error. They are looking to see what players do immediately after making a mistake!

If you have had a chance to watch the popular new movie Draft Day, the failure of the top draft pick in successfully recovering after a bad play was precisely why Kevin Costner’s character didn’t choose him (that’s Hollywood’s way of addressing PACE).

This “measurable” isn’t as easy to quantify as a 40 time, but it may be even more critical in determining who will make your team better. PACE is the silent determiner in examining how the shadow of a past mistake affects future performance. 

Imagine that you’re a running back and you fumble the football in a key situation—what happens next?  How do you respond on your next snap?  Do you lose focus and compound the problem with additional errors, or do you move on and focus on the next play when you’re handed the ball?  Do you study what you did wrong, own it and understand what you need to do differently?

Players who demonstrate a high-quality PACE have found themselves more popular in front offices, just as employees who know how to handle difficult moments are highly valued in corporate environments. All of us make mistakes. What do you do next? How do you recover?

If you want to increase your value and potential for success, whether in the NFL or your next sales call, increase your PACE. It is the ultimate show of that characteristic everyone wants: mental toughness. Understand that the error you’ve committed probably wasn’t so critical that it cost you the game—or your job—and the best way to become a first round selection is to not let it cost you another play. Will you play scared, or will you play through? How will you take it to the next level?

Understand that in any error you make, the most important thing is your performance on the next play. What’s the key to your PACE? 

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