How To Keep Strong When The Pressure Is On
I gave a presentation yesterday to a room of STW colleagues. I got to a slide I’d presented a thousand times, and yet its message struck me hard- as if I was hearing it for the first time. It was a message of hope, and of resilience. Here it is.
Our lives and roles can’t always be a bowl of cherries- sometimes the pressure builds, tensions rise, relationships get tested, issues complicate. Constant pressure depletes energy – it pulls you down, clouds judgment. You can feel trapped in the relentlessness of it all. The fun goes. It becomes a grind. We can become, quite simply, unhappy- right there deep inside. Know what I mean?
And it was on slide 17 of my presentation on how to be more effective and efficient every day that I was reminded of this great piece of advice. Here it is, and how I have used it to lift my spirits. Maybe it can help you do the same when you are feeling the pinch.
Here’s that message from slide 17:
The happiest people in the world have trained themselves to become ‘learned optimists.’
Ok. How? Here’s the intent.
Try to become a ‘learned optimist.’ Train yourself to react positively to the things that happen to you in your job and life….to react optimistically to each setback, body blow, each issue as it winks at you. It can become a habit- a very energizing, empowering habit. ” When you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.”
Armed with this reminder- to make the choice to try to react with optimistic to setbacks or problems – I then took it a step further, and worked out what else I could do to pivot my mood- from a sense of diminished hope, of entrapment… to one of increasing optimism, empowerment, freedom, energised intent.
First, I Resolved To Try To Respond With Cheerfulness To Every Problem That Came My Way.
Leonard Cohen (happy 80th birthday this week, Leonard) said: “I have tried all the religions of the world, but cheerfulness keeps breaking through.”
Sometimes we just take things too fricken seriously. Instead of reacting to issues with furrowed brow, I have resolved to try to react with cheerfulness and a sense of adventure. This angst is just business- it’s not life and death. As Jobs said: “Remembering you’re going to die is the best way I have found to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose.”
Get things into perspective. That’s the point. Problems and issues are just turbulence along your fast moving journey. Tackle them with humor, enthusiasm, a sense of playfulness- and remember- it just does not matter that much. “When you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.”
Also, I find this idea useful to keep front of mind– what you do every day is not a prison sentence with no release date. You have options. Powerful, inspiring, intriguing options. You turn up by choice. The power is with you. And again, referencing Steve Jobs, who said the best thing that ever happened to him was getting fired by Apple. One door closes. 20 open. You are not trapped. No! You are invincible.
Here’s the point. I got clarity, confidence, hope, inspiration about the fact that I am actually in control. Of my mindset. My persona. My today. My tomorrow. The world- literally- is my oyster. And it is absolutely yours too.
Now- I am all about making the grass greener on this side of the fence. Every one of us, you and me included, will be in a role where sometimes the pressure just feels too much. That’s normal- par for the course.
Have courage. Keep strong. Get your mindset right, stay the course and give it your all until you simply can no longer make a relevant contribution to your colleagues and business.
If you feel there is a way to go before you’re done in terms of the difference you can bring to your role, then don’t give up- rather, tackle the issues and pressure with three things in your tool kit:
1. An optimistic frame of mind- make a decision now to treat each set back and issue with optimism and positive intent
2. Remember- it’s simply not that serious- this is business. That’s all. It’s important. But it sure is not worth screwing with your core happiness and wellbeing. Treat it as an adventure. A game. Fun. A privilege
3. Remember, you have options- exciting options. Be clear on what they are. Keep them nurtured and fresh. Knowing they are there keeps you sane, a sense of freedom and control. You are invincible
Take control of your mindset. Pull yourself back into the groove so you can give the best you can. Use the three steps. It works for me. Well, so far so good- I am feeling a lot better today than I have for a while. Onwards!