In Job-Hunting, As In Life, Clutch Can Be Everything

Paul Sullivan, author of the book "Clutch: Why Some People Excel Under Pressure and Other Don't," believes those who succeed under pressure often demonstrate a handful of noticeable traits that can be helpful when job hunting. NY1's Asa Aarons filed the following Employment Report.

Derek Jeter has it. So does Billy Jean King. Wall Street deal-makers like Ken Lewis and Jamie Dimon have it. General George Patton – he had it big time.

We're talking about "clutch" – slang for people who excel when under pressure. People who stand when everyone else is fleeing, who think clearly in dizzying situations.

Paul Sullivan is the author of "Clutch: Why Some People Excel Under Pressure and Other Don't." He interviewed people in all walks of life who faced incredible pressure and succeeded. Or in some cases, failed.

He explored why some could keep clutch, while others lost it.

"I wanted to find out why some people are great up to a certain point, and fail or choke," Sullivan says.

Paul believes those who succeed under pressure often demonstrate a handful of noticeable traits.

"I found five traits," he says. "Focus, discipline, adaptability, being present, and the push and pull of fear and desire."

And by now you probably know why I put this in the Employment Report. Because the traits that drove Patten across Sicily, could drive you through your next successful job interview.

"You've got a job interview, so you must be focused on that position and you need the discipline to know everything about not just the company but also the interviewer," Sullivan explains. "You need adaptability in case your 30-minute interview gets dropped to 15 – what do you do? Fear and desire is present in every job situation – hopefully in the end you get the job you want."

Something that's nice about the concept of clutch: It can be learned.

"You can pick up these traits, and many of the people in the book told me about times they failed but learned from it," Sullivan says.

Ask Asa

If you have an employment story, a job, a new interview technique, or something you want to share with those looking for work or those doing the hiring, contact Asa Aarons at

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