Pressure is a Privilege

My wife heard an interesting statement on TV yesterday evening and was thrilled to share it with me this morning, for it was both empowering and revolutionary:

“Pressure is a Privilege”

The statement: “pressure is a privilege” defines a novel way to look at the various pressures you face in your world. Rather than see pressure as a foe, something to avoid or get away from and another reason to hate life, why not recognize it for what it is?

Pressure is a harbinger of change. In fact, change rarely occurs without some form of pressure. Most change occurs within a contained cycle – with a definable beginning and an end – after the application of a stimulus. The stimulus brings pressure on the situation and the pressure rises and then falls, describing a bell curve within the cycle.

The way you handle pressure determines how effectively you handle change. If you are in the habit of reacting to or avoiding pressure either consciously or unconsciously, you will blow the cycle the leads to progressive change. If, conversely, you learn to be at rest under pressure or even better, to shine under pressure, then you will become an agent of change in your world rather than a victim of change.

Pressure is a privilege because it makes change easier. Without pressure, all change is an uphill battle. Pressure – if you’ve contained it properly by not reacting to its building – builds naturally in relation to a process of change and this is the secret behind the reason why it is said that “timing is everything.” Timing is everything because a sensitivity to pressure management allows for the least amount of self-generated force to be applied to get the ball rolling.

If you’ve ever forced something before its time, you’ve recognized how much harder it is to make changes without the necessary background pressure. Some people dislike change for this reason. They’ve pushed and pushed until exhaustion without moving with the pressure. Rather than standing victoriously at the end as an agent of change they’re flattened by the process, exhausted and disheartened by the apparent futility of trying to make change happen.

Be mindful of the pressure in your world, but don’t obsess over it. Watch for signs that you may be unwittingly leaking out valuable pressure, such as:

  1. Heightened reactiveness to the world around you (usually expressed through agitation, anger, panic, etc.)
  2. Physical tension, shallow, rapid breathing, stiff neck or shoudlers and other physiological reactions to stress
  3. The tendency to withdraw or to run away from it all
  4. Quitting, selling out for comfort
  5. Engaging in mindless activities in lieu of digging in and taking care of pressing responsibilities

Learning to handle the privilege of pressure responsibly is a progressive process. It won’t happen all at once. It is a building process much like physical exercise. The good news is that every circumstance contains in it an opportunity to get a little better at handling pressure.

My challenge to you this morning is to prove that you are man or woman enough to take positive steps in the way you handle pressure. Relinquish bad habits as they show themselves to you. Don’t worry too much about those around you and how they deal with pressure…you’ll likely have your hands, head and heart full with your own issues.

The absence of pressure brings an illusion of comfort. I say illusion because a leaky container holds water for only so long. At a certain point you recognize that you, as a container for life and all that is represents – vibrancy, tenacity, resiliency, beauty, potency, etc. – can no longer support its expression. The bottom falls out eventually, sadly though it is typically long before death.

That is no way to live! Life is meant t0 be dynamic, vigorous and virile and the experience of those qualities comes only as you recognize and learn to move gracefully with the ebb and flow of pressure within the various cycles you’re privileged to handle.

Grace under pressure is absolutely within your reach and capabilities. Don’t rush in where angels fear to tread, but instead commit yourself to the long haul. Step by step you will prove that you can – with increasing ease – overcome. Pressure is not your enemy, it is your friend and you are privileged to keep such good company.

25 thoughts on “Pressure is a Privilege

  1. Pingback: Leadership Pressure Points | LEADERSHIP WINS

  2. Pingback: Leadership Pressure Points « Linked 2 Leadership

  3. Doug

    In my company I find the people who are most valuable are the ones who don’t break under the pressure of change. Nothing stays the same in our industry so pressure is part of the job description for everyone. Really good outline to see how we spring leaks. Thanks, great post.


  4. Colin

    This is a wonderful, and unfortunately, revolutionary attitude towards pressure. I always felt like I could handle my situations well under pressure that crushed others. I see now though, through some of the examples in your post, how I am still avoiding pressure in certain areas through habitual actions. I bet that if you asked my friends and family, they probably already know the areas I am talking about! But the good news is, once you see it yourself, you have a chance to take charge and make a change. Today is a great day to start moving down the path to where you handle all your pressurized situations in the perfect way for each circumstance. Thanks!


  5. J.J.Mc

    This is priceless. As you said everyone that’s changing or is involved in change ( and I think that’s just about anyone that’s breathing) has pressure. I’ve always thought the most successful people were able to withstand the greatest pressure. You’ve given me more to factor in, thanks!


  6. Foxglove

    I can only but applaud this post which puts our experience of stress in perspective, where by shifting the attitude towards our ‘to-do’s’, no matter what that may be – the expected as well as the unexpected – then we can be more relaxed in our doings which allows for greater effectiveness, composure, and …… joy!


  7. James

    This is a timely post on a number of levels, from the micro to the macro. How many people wish for change at those levels and yet resist the very change they seek when the pressure comes on?

    As one learns to handle that pressure rightly, one becomes more comfortable with greater levels and thus allows greater expansion.


    1. You do have to be careful what you wish for! I’ve seen many people turn their backs to what they knew inherently was the right thing to do when the pressure came on. This seems to be especially when the changes weren’t what they expected or had hoped for. Part of recognizing that pressure is a privilege involves the willingness to stop white-knuckling your view of the future, using that energy instead to make the most creative use of whatever comes your way.


  8. Reina

    This post could be the foundation of many hours of contemplation relative to the practice and understanding of handeling pressure rightly and the unfourtunate habits that allow this pressure to leak away. In fact, as a mother of three young women, this would be a great topic for an actual college or high school course…..What a wonderful life we could have if this is put into practical application! I look forward to the “privilege of pressure” and being more mindful of how I manage this is my own world! Thanks!


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  10. Flow

    I love this. I kept thinking of the design of our magnificent bodies while reading this ………. Nothing within the human body happens without pressure. A symptom is intensified pressure due to the body attempting to work something out. If we work with the pressure by providing the body what it needs, at the right moment, a whole new level of health is attained. Stop the symptom ( or the pressure) and a whole new level of disease is created.


    1. The right level of pressure in the various systems of the body is a delicate balance. Too much pressure and you have an -itis, too little and you have…well, is there a suffix for that? So, too, with life. Learning to move with the real and natural pressure inherent in the situation is an important skill, one that requires the ability to identify and normalize those pressures which are unnatural or produced by the reactions of others to the natural pressures at hand. Fun stuff!


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