Written by-Sanjay Sinha
Most often Pressure is misconstrued as Stress, but it is untrue.
We all feel Pressure from time to time; it is always butterflies in our tummy before any big
meeting, presentation, or before a game (if you love playing sports) or that sinking feeling
when confronted with adverse situations/circumstances/news.
It’s the adrenaline rush, having sleepless nights worrying about our upcoming meetings,
thinking how to articulate and share big ideas, big announcements, or big decisive
moments in those coming days where you have to take some significant calls. It is always
irresistible with all you have to do and wondering if you’ll ever be able to but knowing that
you need to do.
Does this sound familiar? Pressure comes under various pretexts.
I came across an amazing book titled “Pressure is a Privilege”, a book on lessons on life and
the battle of sexes (Billie Jean King Library, the legendary Tennis player) by Holly Hunter.
Billie Jean King often said “Pressure is a Privilege”. With over 39 grand slams to her credit,
she was always expected to win the matches and that weight of expectation of her fans was
a huge pressure on her (but she felt it was a privilege for her to be in that space!) but she
never took any contrarian view rather she took it as a privilege to show up confidently to
win. She felt blessed to be in that space rather than getting caught up in stress.
To us, stress is all about emotional or physical tension or contraction, and it is draining. She
didn’t feel stressed because she recognized the opportunities for what they were. She felt
satisfied while playing to her fullest what she loved doing (Zone of Genius).
You see, she was in her Zone of Genius where she has immense love for the game, liveliness
and huge satisfaction. You don’t love what you do and feel satisfaction when you are under extreme stress ,and
you are working out of your Zone of Genius.
Pressure is different from Stress. Pressure is often stimulating however, if that happens too
often or too much it becomes stress, an internal resistance. You may experience pressure
but that does not mean that you experience stress while under pressure.
In Billie Jean King’s case, it was the force of her fans’ expectations. She knew pressure was
her privilege and she rose to meet it. She consciously chose pressure over stress. “Usually if you have tremendous pressure, it’s
because an opportunity comes along,” she said on the Center court, Wimbledon ground.
AND……She consciously chooses opportunity over contraction.
Leaders under pressure more often rise to the occasion and start to hunt for opportunity.
They don’t avoid difficult conversations.
Try channeling the feeling of pressure into the feeling of assurance, regeneration and
renewal. Feel deserving of the expectations and gratitude for the attention (Billie Jean King
understood that). The role is yours because you’re more than capable of doing the job.
What is the privilege you’re privy to?
Frontline Health Workers (FHWs) take lives into their hands every day. They count on the
training and do the right thing even under pressure.
Have you earned the right to feel pressure? Your cheerleaders are expecting you to win
because you’re their favorite.
You and your team take immense pride and satisfaction when you deliver outcomes
collectively under pressure.
Yes. Pressure is a privilege. Yes. Pressure is welcome.