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Mental coach of 3 top NBA draft picks shares 7 ways you can thrive under pressure

Do you ever wonder how a basketball player can stand at the free throw line with the game in his hands in front of 30 million viewers and casually sink a shot? How about when a surgeon is in the middle of a procedure and the patient starts to bleed profusely, or when a lawyer has to convince a jury that her innocent client isn't guilty of murder? How do they keep their heads?

Graham Betchart, the director of mental training at Lucid Performance, prepares people for these exact moments.

After receiving his master's degree in sports psychology from John F. Kennedy University in 2008, he began developing basketball stars like the Philadelphia 76ers' 6'10'' point guard Ben Simmons, the Minnesota Timberwolves' center Karl-Anthony Towns and the Orlando Magic's power forward Aaron Gordon. Gordon has worked with Betchart since he was 14.

But now both Graham and Lucid Performance are pivoting beyond sports. The company that found success with a mental training app — which now has 50,000 downloads on iTunes — for kids who dream of becoming pro basketball players, is currently planning for an internal trial at Google and will be running a workshop at Facebook to train employees in mental strength.

Betchart has already begun working with sales teams, health professionals, universities and lawyers. "What we've found is this is much larger than sports," Betchart tells CNBC. "This is about everyone in life."

Here are seven ways you can thrive under pressure, according to his advice:

Lucid Performance CEO Jason Stirman, Skal Labissière of the Sacramento Kings, and Lucid Performance Director of Mental Training Graham Betchart (from left to right)Graham Betchart

1. Let go of the obsession with results

Fearful leaders are always thinking about their teams' results, says Betchart. "They are the ones that are living way in the future." And projecting into the future creates stress, which he calls "the absence of presence."

A salesperson will not function well if his focus is entirely on numbers, just like a surgeon will fail if he thinks only about the result of the surgery. If something unexpected goes wrong, according to Betchart, some surgeons will immediately think, "I'm going to lose my job if this happens. I'm going to get sued for malpractice. I don't know how to talk to the parents."

What they need to focus on, says Betchart, is resolving the issue. "Stop the bleeding," he tells CNBC.

2. Get comfortable being uncomfortable

"If you refuse to be uncomfortable, you are literally limiting your ability to grow," says Betchart, citing Stanford psychologist Carol Dweck's research on the "growth mindset." As opposed to the "fixed mindset," having the "growth mindset" means embracing a dynamic outlook, believing that trials and challenges will push you to new limits and that failures are opportunities to develop.

"Be a learn it all, not a know it all," says Betchart. "Tell yourself, 'I want to keep growing, keep learning, and what I know now might be different in ten years.'"

"And know that you are okay," he says. Repeatedly tell yourself, "I am okay." According to Betchart, it sounds easy, but achieving that understanding is actually quite profound.


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