The Grip, or Grip Stress is a psychological concept that refers to the experience of being completely overwhelmed by stress or pressure, to the point where a person feels incapable of making rational decisions or taking action. The term was first coined by Dr. Peter Suedfeld, a psychologist and professor emeritus at the University of British Columbia, who studied the experiences of people in high-pressure environments such as astronauts, polar explorers, and prisoners of war.

The Grip is characterised by a sense of disorientation and confusion, as well as feelings of anxiety and despair. People in The Grip often experience tunnel vision, which means they focus only on the immediate problem or threat, rather than considering the bigger picture or alternative options. They may also become fixated on small details, losing sight of the larger context.

It’s just not like me at all

Naomi Quenk in her book Was That Really Me?: How Everyday Stress Brings Out Our Hidden Personality breaks down the irrational act of inverting type in times of stress using the Myers-Briggs typology as a way of demonstrating how people in the throws of Grip stress behave out of their natural thinking process.

The Grip can have significant consequences for decision-making and problem-solving, particularly in high-stakes situations such as business or politics. People in The Grip may make impulsive or irrational decisions, or fail to take action altogether. In some cases, they may even become paralyzed by fear and indecision.

Avoiding The Grip, sounds easy but..

To avoid The Grip, it is important to develop coping strategies for managing stress and pressure, such as meditation, exercise, or therapy. It is also important to engage in deliberate decision-making, taking the time to consider all available options and perspectives before making a choice. Seeking out diverse perspectives and trusted advisors can also help to avoid tunnel vision and groupthink.

If you have reached an ability to self-check-in and identify that you may be in The Grip, it can be smart to delegate tasks, seek outside guidance, or taking a step back to reassess the situation.

Being able to identify The Grip in yourself is a necessary skill for leaders in business, particularly during times of economic uncertainty, such as recessions. Business leaders who revert to their typical behaviours during these times may miss out on opportunities for growth and survival, and ultimately harm their companies and employees.

This is where a business coach can be incredibly valuable. A coach can provide a fresh perspective and challenge a leader’s assumptions, helping them to think beyond their fears and biases. They can also provide guidance on developing a strategy and navigating the uncertainties of a recession.

In today’s rapidly changing and complex world, it is more important than ever for leaders to be mindful of their own behaviour and thought patterns, seek out diverse perspectives, and engage in deliberate decision-making. Whether in the political or business world, leaders who are able to avoid the pitfalls of reverting to type and make decisions that lead to positive outcomes will be better equipped to succeed in the long run.