(Previous Free e-Newz issues: Click Here)
July & August 2013, from Kim Ratz, Speaker-Trainer-Troubadour
A free, fast, and fun read to inspire hope, improve skills to cope,
and induce a chuckle along the way ...
Thoughts to Help You Live & WorkWise:
When Pressure Strikes ...
How's your self awareness and effectiveness when pressure strikes? Do you recognize your own set of personal "signals" of feeling pressured when it happens -- before you act? And importantly, how well do you usually manage your response? EVERYONE deals with pressure and stress, and while some pressures can be anticipated or are familiar, others take us by surprise or overwhelm us with doubt or uncertainty ... We've all had moments when you react and later think to yourself: "I wish I hadn't said / done that!" Or: "I wish I would have said / done something ..."
The good news is: You can improve as soon as you decide to -- all you need is the desire to find ways to keep getting better. Participants in my "Playing Nice in the Sandbox" workshops keep telling me this part of the discussion is really helpful, especially people in supervision and leadership roles, because it's a rare chance to really think about some of their own behaviors and styles, and how they could keep improving their ability to deal with the pressures they experience ... So I highlight some of the key points here in hopes that it helps you in your professional and personal roles and goals too!
Pressure for the days ahead ...
- First -- think about pressure situations you've been through, and how you tend to react to pressure, ranging from: "I thrive on pressure" to you "I can't handle pressure" and everything in between ... Is your response immediate, or do you take your time, or perhaps too much time? How do you usually see yourself and your prospects of getting through a challenge? How do you think others perceive your competence and confidence? Understanding that your varying responses depended on the circumstances, how would you describe your overall style and traits for handling pressure? Overall, how effective do your responses in pressure situations tend to be?
- Self-awareness is the ability to recognize your own set of personal "signals" you give yourself when you feel the "pinch" of a pressure, challenge or stress from someone or something ... Some people feel their skin flush, or an increased heart rate ... Some people feel a strong or emotional impulse to say or do something - you recognize thoughts are forming about how you feel before any words start to come out of your mouth ... Some people realize they are rehearsing what they want to say to someone, or what they want to do in response to a situation or task ... Whatever the signal is - it tends to be consistent for you, so learn to recognize your signals as soon as you can ... And be realistic - you don't always recognize what's REALLY going on right away ... Sometimes it takes awhile - it takes discipline to be self-aware ... Which leads to the next choice/behavior:
- Discipline to restrain an immediate impulse to say or do something just for the sake of doing SOME-thing. Figure out what really happened and try to understand how you really feel about it, and what is the best thing to do or say in response ... Don't make things worse by impulsively saying or doing something which you later regret and wish you could undo and get a "do-over" ... Some people even rehearse a basic phrase to use, or something specific to do, so you can acknowledge you're not quite sure what to do in response, so you're going to think about it ... It's like the fire drill in school - when the alarm sounds you want to know what to do - you DON'T want to be thinking for the first time, "What should I do?" Anticipating the need to respond to future pressure situations and rehearsing a certain way you want to respond creates the exit you need so you can decide what to do and how to do it ... Which leads to another choice/behavior:
- Be good at "Reframing the situation" (Being able to see a reality, a situation, a set of facts in more than one way - that still fits the fact). What initially gets your attention is often something you perceive as wrong, bad, a loss, a threat, or risky. As long as you focus on that, you're stuck. However, as soon as you start to see the possibilities of what you can do ("When life hands you lemons ...") you open the doors to additional options and choices that can help you feel even better when you reflect on them later, and less likely to be thinking: "Oh how I wish I hadn't said/done that!" ...
- Once you feel you understand what's going on, and what's the "best/right" thing to do, then follow through and do it. Even if it involves acknowledging you made a mistake, or misunderstood what was really going on. Yes, this might be tough and feel risky, yet if it's important you give it your best effort. And if it's appropriate -- explain to other people what you are doing and why ... Which leads to another choice/behavior we often see in leaders:
- Convey in word and deed that you believe others can do it too when the pressure or challenge affects a team of people or many individuals. While some people are so skeptical or cynical they're not likely to be persuaded otherwise, many people do need just that little nudge of encouragement and support to move from "No" or "Maybe" to "I will" ... I use the word "leader" in the sense of more than a title or position - the informal leaders includes anyone who behaves in these ways, and they are the ones that people listen to when they speak ... A common mistake many leaders make is they either assume people understand what's going on and will do whatever needs to be done, or they don't act because they don't want people to feel like the boss is adding pressure ... Lacking a leader in times of pressure and challenge you can predict limited, isolated and random efforts by some individuals who may or may not be coordinated, and the bulk of individuals who are unsure of what do do, or succumb to the pressure and otherwise feel anxious, discouraged and even hopeless ...
- Reconciling is a key role that leaders often need to play in pressure situations ... Even in "normal" discussions, different people will see the same situation differently, and therefore will see solutions differently. So when the pressure is on, and tempers may be high and patience low, it's especially important that someone reminds people how to "agree to disagree" and reframe the discussion so that the different thoughts "push" each other towards recognition of shared values or ends, so that there is patience and persistence to keep looking for the ideas that can result in higher levels of concensus or agreement ... In today's world where so many feel polarized and divided, many people don't know how or feel comfortable to talk through a disagreement to reach an agreement, and they need to see how reconciling can be done to believe it can really happen ...
- Leaders remind us that we need to accept that you can't always "win" or otherwise be able to resolve every challenge, conflict or stress the way you'd like to ... Life isn't always "fair" or disappointment-free ...
- And here's an interesting application of "reframing": many if not most setbacks can not only be survived, they can be a catalyst to propel you to your next higher level of performance! One of my favorite quotes is: "Hardly anything of significance has ever been achieved that wasn't preceded by adversity." Mistakes, failures and setbacks can all be catalysts to those moments when ordinary people do extraordinary things ... Look at the stories of people like Oprah Winfrey, Elvis Presley or Stephen King and the setbacks they endured, and we all know where those stories go ... Which leads to another choice/behavior we often see in leaders:
- Convey to others a continued sense of hope, and options, and connection ... Increasingly in today's high-tech and 24/7 world many individuals find it easier than ever to create their own "coccoon" and be more isolated from personal contact with others - even in the workplace ... Yesterday's headlines can be more quickly and easily replaced and forgotten by today's glaring headlines ... In times of pressure that affect many people, however, these personal connections are vital to whether or not the group can withstand the pressure, much less come out better as a result ... Denial, rationalizations, procrastination, avoidance are choices we've all made, and those choices will always exist whenever there are a couple of people or more affected ... They can also slow a team or group down, so somebody needs to be a cheerleader and keep calling on people to rally, remind them they can do it, coach those who need help along the way, and celebrate the successes that come in some form and fashion ...
Quotes related to
When we long for life without difficulties, remind us that oaks grow strong in contrary winds and diamonds are made under pressure. - Peter Marshall
There is no such thing as talent. There is pressure. - Alfred Adler
Hermits have no peer pressure. - Steven Wright
Laughter is the valve on the pressure cooker of life. Either you laugh and suffer, or you got your beans and brains on the ceiling. - Wavy Gravy
Pressure is something you feel when you don't know what the hell you're doing. - Peyton Manning
Lack of pressure is the intersection of when what I Ought to do is the same as what I Want to do. - unknown
A diamond is merely a lump of coal under pressure. - unknown
I don't fold under pressure, great athletes perform better under pressure, so put pressure on me! - Floyd Mayweather
The most exciting phrase to hear in science, the one that heralds the most discoveries, is not "Eureka!" (I found it!), but "That's funny ... ?!*#"
No matter how tough, no matter what kinds of outside pressure, no matter how many bad breaks along the way, I must keep my sights on the final goal, to win, win, win -- and with more love and passion than the world has ever witnessed in any performance. - Billie Jean King
The only pressure I'm under is the pressure I put on myself, - Mark Messier
One way to get high blood pressure is to go mountain climbing over molehills. - Earl Wilson
Pressure can burst a pipe or make a diamond. - Robert Horry
I'm so used to being under pressure I'm afraid if it stopped I'd get the bends. - Walter Headley
When the going gets tough, the tough get going. - unknown
Those who say it can't be done or it's too hard should get out of the way of those who are doing it. - unknown
Happiness is the combination of two things: Good health and a bad memory. - Albert Schweitzer
Two other thoughts for your late summer-time consideration ...
I help people create more harmony in their own life, and in their relationships with others. It's about Choices and Congruence - by aligning your Attitudes, Aptitudes and Actions - so that at day's end you feel content, not regret. I do this through keynotes that inspire hope, workshops that help people improve skills to cope with change, challenge and conflict, and original music, stories and humor to induce some fun along the way!