This article is a continuation from a previous article, where we talked about the advantages of pressure in our lives and work.
As we all know, there is a downside to pressure as well. When the pressure is too much or not managed well, it can be dangerous. A pressure cooker, under extreme pressure, will blow up and cause damage.
We left off the last article with this question: In this high pressure world in which we live, how do we maintain an acceptable level of pressure?
Now the good news is, with rare exception, you get to regulate the pressure. You get to create your own little pressure valves.
How do you do this?
Accept that failures will happen.
For many of my C-wired friends, the idea of perfection creates enormous pressure in their lives. While it is great to strive for quality and excellence, perfection is not always attainable. Learn to say, “It is good.” And celebrate! And when failure comes, learn from it, and move on quickly.
Accept that criticism will come.
This is especially true if you are an entrepreneur. Maybe you have poured your passion and energy into a program or a product that you feel has great value to people. You launch it tepidly, hoping that just one person will buy it. And then you get your first email. You open it excitedly, expecting your first sale, and instead you get…criticism.
Welcome to the world of entrepreneurship. Sooner or later (and perhaps both), you will hit a wall of criticism. What do you do? First, take a deep breath. Remember that pressure valve? Then, either do not respond or thank the critic. If there is something to be learned from the criticism, make a change. If not, then just move on.
Live according to your priorities.
Juggling priorities is a huge issue for just about everyone these days. Whereas in the past, we may have faced “a deadline”, today we may face “multiple deadlines” all at once. It is the nature of modern business.
What can you do?
First of all, look at your vision and goals. Are you doing the things that fit those goals? If something doesn’t fit, it may not truly be a high priority to you. It may be someone else’s priority but not yours.
And prepare to be tested. Hold firm. Sometimes expectations are just too high. You are not required to kill yourself to meet them. If as a business leader, you have a client who continually has unreasonable expectations and does not respect your boundaries, it may be time to let them go.
Major on priorities, one at a time.
We all like to think we can multi-task, but this only adds to the pressure. We can do some mindless tasks while doing other things that require thought. But for the most part, concentrating on one thing at a time provides focus and decreases pressure.
Work within your Strengths Zone.
If you spend 90% of your day doing something that is not within your strengths zone, I can guarantee you will be feeling enormous pressure. In fact, that feeling of enormous pressure is an indicator that you are out of your zone. You should strive to work within your strengths zone at least 70% of the day.
Control what you can control.
You cannot control the actions of others. You CAN control your response.
You’ve seen places where teams work in highly technical environments, and you see things like game rooms, coffee shops, and any number of amenities. These companies realize the power and creativity that come from “walk away” time. If you are under pressure and unable to think clearly, walk away for a short time. You may be amazed at the clarity you gain.
Rest and recharge.
Sometimes pressure comes from within, from depleted energy. It is tempting to work more when pressure looms, when there may be more value in working less…in stopping to rest and recharge.
The proverb about laughter being like medicine is true. When pressure is highest, find something…some little thing…to laugh about. It does wonders to reduce the tension.
The overall lesson from these two articles is this: Pressure can be your best friend or your worst enemy. Now the good news is, for the most part, you get to choose.
Make it your friend by using it where it helps you, and disarm it as an enemy by applying these steps.