There are many things that work better under pressure, for example; the process that creates diamonds, the Tumut 3 – Pumped Storage Hydroelectric Power Station, Queen!
But not everything works well under pressure.
As humans, there are many things that can influence our ability to work under pressure.
Things such as past experiences, our mindset, current influences and natural disposition can all influence how well, or not well, we work when put under pressure.
This pressure could be in the workplace, at home, in the sporting arena or in conflict. It doesn’t really matter, we’re either going to thrive under pressure or we’re not.
Yet, what separates those that can thrive under pressure and those that can’t isn’t a lot. We all feel pressure regularly. But, its how we approach it that matters, and it starts with the very first things we do.
What we tell ourselves
As with all things our internal dialog will have a greater impact on our ability to perform in a given situation than any other external influence.
When we are first exposed to pressure, that first thought of “I can do this” or “I can’t do this” are what will determine what you do next.
If you tell yourself that “I can do this”, then your internal dialog will orientate itself to the things you can do. Sure, there will be stuff you can’t do, but that won’t be your immediate focus. And even when things turn to shit, you’ll stay the course longer when you think you can do it.
Conversely, if you tell yourself “I can’t do this”, then you’ve already lost the battle. You might as well throw all your lollies on the floor, stamp your foot down, cry outload and sulk in the corner. When you convince yourself that you can’t do something, you void yourself of any opportunity to seize the things you can do. Additionally, “can’t” can very quickly become “won’t” and as soon as you in the “won’t” space, you’re well and truly fucked.
Be like a pregnant woman in labour
If you’ve ever been fortunate enough to be present for the birth of a child (I’m blessed to have been there for all three of my kids, although technically asleep for the majority of one, sorry babe!) then you’ll understand the importance of breathing…….and you’ll have an understanding of the true strength of a woman.
Remaining calm under pressure is a true art and something that begins with breathing. If you take a minute or two to just focus on breathing, you’ll find a level of clarity that will allow you to logically approach whatever you’re doing.
A slightly odd sense of humour helps too, but I picked mine up from Vinnies, so I suggest looking there for yours too. You do run the risk of buying someone else’s broken sense of humour, but hey, life’s a gamble!
When faced with a stressful pressure situation, be aware of where your mindset is currently at, and if you need time for it to reset, then breathe my friend, breatheeeeeeee!
When you’re under pressure, shit ain’t going to get any better by ignoring it or trying to work out a perfect plan.
You need to act and act fast.
Immediate action while still in the moment will help with momentum. by maintaining momentum, your self-doubt will rapidly diminish.
You may need to revisit that action again later and further clarify things or rework it, but you’ll avoid becoming lost and stumbling across something hiding in the dark….which is usually “Can’t”, lurking in the shadows and waiting for it’s time to strike!
Your action doesn’t need to be big; I’m not suggesting you attempt a hostile occupation of Bishop Rock; it just needs to be adequate and have some sort of immediate result.
Things you could do include; dot pointing an issue, arranging a meeting with key stakeholders, getting a hose and putting out the BBQ that’s clearly on fire……….!
The final takeaway
All pressure eases at some point, whether voluntary or not.
If it eases too early and completely involuntary, I suggest seeing doctor, but that’s a whole different conversation!
You need to realise that pressure is never continuous, it can’t be, the focus must move somewhere else at some point. It might be that your focus goes elsewhere, or the focus is taken away from you. Either way, a key understanding is that the pressure will end and that all you need to do is endure.
We all cope with pressure in different ways, a keen eye will note that no one does it perfectly, we all have our own coping mechanisms. And that’s ok, the point isn’t about what you do to cope, it’s whether or not you can do it.
Never be afraid of doing difficult things. Your only fear should be that when the time comes, you won’t be able to demonstrate to the world, and yourself, that you’re good under pressure.
‘til next time….. Cheers!