Doug Dvorak's Blog


Why Pressure is a Privilege and How to Manage It ?

Billie Jean King is a former world No. 1 tennis player, a pioneer for women’s professional sports and an advocate for gender equality and social justice. Billie Jean knows a lot about pressure!

To survive and thrive in her pressure-cooker of a life, King once said she believes: “Pressure is a privilege. It only comes to those who earn it.” She understood the reason she was under so much pressure was because she was at the top of her game. She found a way to make the pressure a source of confidence and motivation.

For a lot of people, the thought of being under any sort of pressure can be overwhelming. However, the brightest diamonds are formed under pressure. When it comes to your career or any other aspect of your life, it is important to understand why pressure is a good thing. That said, it is also important to know how to avoid collapsing under its weight.

Why Pressure is a Good Thing?

Despite the negative connotations, there are many reasons why pressure can be a good thing. As previously stated, one of those reasons is because it reflects a person’s status or their ability level. If you’re in a situation where you are being put under a lot of pressure, it probably means you have proven yourself to a certain level so more is expected of you.

In addition to giving you a major confidence boost, this level of pressure also lets you know where you are in the food chain. If a lot of people need you for a variety of tasks, that is a clear indication that they have confidence in your abilities and can count on you to get it done.

When it can be a Bad Thing?

However, there are times where too much pressure can be applied to someone due to unreasonable expectations. In some cases, people find themselves in a position they didn’t earn because of luck, a mistake, or even corruption of some sort. In these situations, pressure can take a heavy toll as the person doesn’t deserve the position they are in.

Pressure usually reveals a person’s true colors. If they are incapable of doing what needs to be done or willing to do dishonest things to reach their goals, those are the signs they aren’t suited for the role and eventually, it will all become too much for them.

In other cases, people legitimately earn an opportunity only to find it is beyond their capabilities once they secure it. In these situations, the person cannot do anything to reach the required level and they are subject to a huge amount of stress.

In this situation, it is important to remember what got you there – honesty and hard work. You should simply go back to the person who gave you the opportunity and tell them it is beyond your capabilities. They will respect your honesty and probably find some other way to reward you.

Pressure often brings out the best in people and there is no shame in knowing what your limits are and being honest about it. It is also a lot less stressful than trying to bluff your way through everything.

How to Work with Pressure?

While pressure can be an incredibly beneficial thing when it comes to your own personal growth and understanding your place in the world, that doesn’t make it any less difficult to deal with. That said, there are many ways that you can work with your pressure in order to make the most out of those advantages.

As previously mentioned, one of the first things you can do is to remember that people believe in you. Sure, people expecting you to do something can be rather intimidating, but rarely would they expect you to do something if they didn’t believe that you were capable of doing it. That can bring a level of confidence that can help push through the pressure and do what needs to be done. Further, that understanding of what you’re standing for and what you’ve done to get there, can give you both the confidence and the drive to push a little further.

The next thing you can do is to use the stress that pressure greats to energize and motivate you. The desire to reach your goal and to be able to help the people around you can give you the boost you need to overcome that sense of pressure, by using the stress and the hormones they create to fuel a fire in you. Using the feelings that come from pressure to push you forward is a strategy that a lot of successful people use.

However, afterwards it’s also important to find ways to relieve that stress. It’s not good for you to be under constant pressure all the time, both for your mind and body. So even if you only have a little bit of free time, rest and do things you enjoy doing. Not only will relieving that stress make you feel better, but it can also better prepare you for the next pressure cooker of a day ahead of you.


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