Why Pressure Is A Privilege

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I was absolutely engrossed over the weekend watching the Winter Olympics. Saturday was an amazing, record breaking day for Great Britain as we won 3 medals in a day for the first time ever. What brilliant performances!

There was one throwaway line in skeleton gold-medallist Lizzy Yarnold’s post-competition interview that really intrigued me though. She was asked what a difference it had made to her training and preparations to have another emerging British athlete breathing down her neck. And she replied “pressure is a privilege”.

I don’t think I’ve ever heard it described that way before!

It made me think about the pressure that we face in business too and about how we react to it. There are many people who thrive on a certain level of pressure; who love a challenging deadline or a tough target to reach. But there are others who hate that kind of pressure and find that it triggers anxiety, stress or feelings of overwhelm.

I often talk to clients about the choice we have over these feelings, and funnily enough I find that using an athlete as an example is a great way to see things differently. So thank you Lizzy!

You see, the truth is that anxiety and excitement actually feel the same. They both give you that physical reaction in the pit of your stomach. For athletes there’s an incredibly fine line between feeling nervous and feeling fired up and ready to compete.

It’s easy to think that we don’t have a choice over these feelings, that they are entirely instinctive and out of our control. There are many things we can do over time to work on changing our reactions, but in the meantime we can start to make a change by re-labelling worry or stress as excitement and eagerness.

So next time you’re feeling uneasy or overwhelmed challenge yourself to change the label that you give to the feeling and see what an impact it has on your thoughts. How different would things be if you told yourself that it was excitement instead? That it was actually a feeling of anticipation about what you’re about to achieve, and that it’s a sign of great things to come!

I should probably make it clear here that I’m only talking about day to day feelings of worry here, and not suggesting for a second that clinical anxiety can be changed be re-labelling it.

But, if you do regularly feel concerned about your business and you find it hard to switch off or have confidence in your future results then feel free to get in touch and we can get a plan in place to change all of those things for the better.

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