Day 4: Can Stress & Pressure Be A Good Thing???

The difference between the formation of rocks and diamonds is simple – diamonds are rocks that have been put under far more pressure and stress than your average rock. The additional pressure creates a valuable diamond which far exceeds the worth of an ordinary rock.

For those wanting to become high achievers in life pressure and stress are our friends. Many low achievers never accept that pressure and stress are their friends and by denying this truth, they live their life with far less impact than they were intended to. Low achievers look for the easiest path through life – the path of least resistance, the least pressure, the least stress. High achievers embrace pressure and stress and tend to be far more impactful throughout the course of their lives than those who choose the path of least resistance.

Most don’t realize that stress is a stimulus for growth, development and progress. Humans are actually not designed to simply cope with stress we are designed to thrive on it! Stress is actually the psychological stimulant that fuels higher performance. Studies actually show that the human body performs at a higher level when stimulated by pressure and stress. In essence pressure and stress are the gateway to greater success. On the opposite side, the lack of pressure and stress leads to laziness, lower levels of achievement and boredom.

One of, if not the, greatest athlete in North American team sport history was a gentleman by the name of Bill Russell. Bill Russell was a basketball player for the Boston Celtics of the National Basketball Association from 1956 to 1969. Over his 13-year professional career, Russell won 11 Championships. It’s been said that prior to every game Russell would feel the pressure and stress of playing so much that he would vomit before each game. After which he would then go and be the best player on the court each day. Over the course of many years Russell and the Celtics were on a streak of many championships in a row and Russell continued his habit of vomiting before each game. As the story goes, one year after winning many championships Russell began to relax and his need to vomit went away and so did the number of points he’d get during games and wins his team achieved. You see, Russell was becoming complacent and the lack of pressure and stress was lowering his productivity. It wasn’t until late in that season when Russell was driving up to a playoff game and he saw thousands of Boston Celtic fans lined up to get into the game that he realized how much this meant to the Boston Celtic fan base. That night Russell felt the pressure and stress once again and prior to the game he threw up and then went out and had his best game of the season, and he and the Boston Celtics went on to win another League Championship. The pressure and stress Russell felt – brought out his best and inspired his team to raise their level of play once again to win a championship.

Many people think of stress negatively. In a wrong manner.

·       Stress is very different than distress

·       Pressure is very different than anxiety

·       Nervousness is different than worry

Unless we learn to love pressure and embrace stress as an advantage, we are all very unlikely to become high achievers. It’s important for all of us who want to be difference makers and high achievers to create pressure and stress in our own lives to draw out greater performances daily. How do we do this? We can do this in multiple ways in our lives but some of the easiest ways to create pressure and stress to get our best and the best out of those we live and work with is to set aggressive timelines and expectations for the things we are doing. If something might take a week to achieve cut that timeline in half and tell yourselves whatever the task is that it has to be done in three days. Create urgency for completion. Urgency creates good pressure, it creates good stress, and it leads to greater productivity and higher performance output.

Challenge 4 is all about understanding and embracing pressure and stress. Don’t let yourself down by taking the easy route to your goals this year. Would you rather be a rock or a diamond? Create and embrace pressure and stress daily in your own life and live a diamond life that others will admire!


Tom Watson

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