Pressure

Richard Hammond put The Egg Compression Theory to the test when he balanced a 750-kg car on eggs without breaking them (here’s the video). Eggs are incredibly strong despite their fragile reputation, and it got me thinking about the types of pressure we may encounter.

I was inspired to write this post after having a conversation with a friend about the types of pressure you may experience at work, and why it can sometimes be a good thing (I promise this won’t include a throwback to our Year 8 Geography lessons on Metamorphic Rocks).

I’ll refrain from using the widely known ‘carbon into diamond’ adage, but pressure can make you do some amazing things you may have thought unattainable. And even if you don’t succeed, a quote that Forbes shared on their Instagram page a few weeks back has a response to that:

“My Best Successes came on the heels of failure,” Barbara Corcoran. 

So, surely you have nothing to lose by trying?

I’ll start with something we can all resonate with…the ‘I need the loo’ feeling as soon as you reach your train stop. It’s a 15-minute walk home from the station, and with each step your pace quickens. The likelihood of making it to the bathroom seems almost impossible. You finally reach the front door and begin to frantically look for the right set of keys. Your cat is casually watching the struggle from behind the window, oh if only she could open the door for me! Seconds away from what you think might be the inevitable, you suddenly feel the cold metal of your keys at the bottom of the bag. You thrust them into the key hole, swing the door open and run to the porcelain treasure. You didn’t think you’d make it, but you’ve just proved yourself wrong, and it’s a pretty damn good feeling.

Moving onto a different type of pressure, the type we’ve all gone through when studying for exams. Granted, this is a little different to what I’m experiencing now, but it’s taught me a valuable lesson which I still carry with me today. There were times where we would, with the best of intentions I might add, decide to do an all-nighter in the library. After hours of staring down our text books, hoping to discover that we had photographic memories, we would eventually end up playing Black Jack whilst using our notebooks as plates for our KFC Hot wings.

A few games later and even fewer hours left to study, we’d start to feel the pressure to learn those all-important equations and laws that could potentially make all the difference in our grades. There wasn’t any room to feel fear, anxiety or claim that we didn’t work well under pressure. There was only one choice, so we’d put our heads down and worked harder than any red-bull infused coffee could make us do. And it was done, we were forced into learning and it somehow worked and served us in the exam (or coursework that we needed to submit). Now, I’m not recommending that you study like this, but the point I’m trying to make is that if you somehow end up being in this position, don’t let pressure get the better of you, use the adrenaline to your advantage.

Things are a little a lot different now that I’m working. There is no time for procrastination because you have so many dependencies; your client, your project team and your company who have invested their trust in you delivering. Being accountable and responsible for so many things naturally adds to the pressure, but it’s taught me to prioritise and make time for what’s important. It’s very satisfying when you can overcome a challenge (with a smile on your face!)

Having said that, it’s also important to not lose sight of the people around you, who are supporting you every step of the way. Looking back at projects that I’ve been a part of, I can confidently say it was the incredible teams I had worked with that helped make it enjoyable and successful. They were the ones who shared the pressure, late hours in the office and celebratory Mojitos when it was done.

So I guess what I’m trying to say is to not always look at pressure in a negative way, if handled carefully, it can surprise you and lead to good things!

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