Blog

How To Keep Strong When The Pressure Is On

Columbia Records Leonard Cohen Popular Problems coverI gave a presentation yesterday to a room of colleagues. I got to a slide I’d presented a thousand times, and yet its message struck me hard- as if I was hearing it for the first time. It was a message of hope, and of resilience. Here it is.

Our lives and roles can’t always be a bowl of cherries- sometimes the pressure builds, tensions rise, relationships get tested, issues complicate. Constant pressure depletes energy – it pulls you down, clouds judgment. You can feel trapped in the relentlessness of it all. The fun goes. It becomes a grind. We can become, quite simply, unhappy- right there deep inside. Know what I mean?

And it was on slide 17 of my presentation on how to be more effective and efficient every day that I was reminded of this great piece of advice. Here it is, and how I have used it to lift my spirits. Maybe it can help you do the same when you are feeling the pinch. Here’s that message from slide 17:

The happiest people in the world have trained themselves to become ‘learned optimists.’

Ok. How? Here’s the intent.

Try to become a ‘learned optimist.’ Train yourself to react positively to the things that happen to you in your job and life….to react optimistically to each setback, body blow, each issue as it winks at you. It can become a habit- a very energizing, empowering habit. ” When you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.”

Armed with this reminder- to make the choice to try to react with optimistic to setbacks or problems – I then took it a step further, and worked out what else I could do to pivot my mood- from a sense of diminished hope, of entrapment… to one of increasing optimism, empowerment, freedom, energised intent.

First, I Resolved To Try To Respond With Cheerfulness To Every Problem That Came My Way.

Leonard Cohen (happy 80th birthday this week, Leonard) said: “I have tried all the religions of the world, but cheerfulness keeps breaking through.”

Sometimes we just take things too fricken seriously. Instead of reacting to issues with furrowed brow, I have resolved to try to react with cheerfulness and a sense of adventure. This angst is just business- it’s not life and death. As Jobs said: “Remembering you’re going to die is the best way I have found to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose.”

Get things into perspective. That’s the point. Problems and issues are just turbulence along your fast moving journey. Tackle them with humor, enthusiasm, a sense of playfulness- and remember- it just does not matter that much. “When you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.”

Also, I find this idea useful to keep front of mind– what you do every day is not a prison sentence with no release date. You have options. Powerful, inspiring, intriguing options. You turn up by choice. The power is with you. And again, referencing Steve Jobs, who said the best thing that ever happened to him was getting fired by Apple. One door closes. 20 open. You are not trapped. No! You are invincible.

Here’s the point. I got clarity, confidence, hope, inspiration about the fact that I am actually in control. Of my mindset. My persona. My today. My tomorrow. The world- literally- is my oyster. And it is absolutely yours too.

Now- I am all about making the grass greener on this side of the fence. Every one of us, you and me included, will be in a role where sometimes the pressure just feels too much. That’s normal- par for the course.

Have courage. Keep strong. Get your mindset right, stay the course and give it your all until you simply can no longer make a relevant contribution to your colleagues and business. If you feel there is a way to go before you’re done in terms of the difference you can bring to your role, then don’t give up- rather, tackle the issues and pressure with three things in your tool kit:

1. An optimistic frame of mind- make a decision now to treat each set back and issue with optimism and positive intent
2. Remember- it’s simply not that serious- this is business. That’s all. It’s important. But it sure is not worth screwing with your core happiness and wellbeing. Treat it as an adventure. A game. Fun. A privilege.
3. Remember, you have options- exciting options. Be clear on what they are. Keep them nurtured and fresh. Knowing they are there keeps you sane, a sense of freedom and control. You are invincible.

Take control of your mindset. Pull yourself back into the groove so you can give the best you can. Use the three steps. It works for me. Well, so far so good- I am feeling a lot better today than I have for a while. Onwards!

, , , , , , , ,

33 Responses to How To Keep Strong When The Pressure Is On

  1. Paul Alexander September 26, 2014 at 10:08 am #

    Thanks Chris; I needed that.
    Paul A

    • Chris Savage September 28, 2014 at 11:37 am #

      Thanks Paul

  2. Mat Densten September 26, 2014 at 10:15 am #

    could not agree more great post…its so easy to dig your head in the sand and get frustrated with what business throws at you…staying optimistic is a very important strategy as well as not taking things personally…

    • Chris Savage September 28, 2014 at 11:37 am #

      Thanks Mat!

  3. Alex September 26, 2014 at 10:18 am #

    Outstanding read Chris – puts a lot in perspective. Thanks for sharing.

    • Chris Savage September 28, 2014 at 11:37 am #

      Pleasure Alex!

  4. Nick Ryder September 26, 2014 at 10:22 am #

    Inspiring words, Chris. Cheers!

    • Chris Savage September 28, 2014 at 11:36 am #

      Thanks Nick!

  5. Bart Wolkowski September 26, 2014 at 10:27 am #

    Great post, just what I needed. Thanks Chris.

    • Chris Savage September 28, 2014 at 11:36 am #

      Thanks Bart!

  6. Charlei September 26, 2014 at 10:58 am #

    Well put Chris
    thanks for the reminder.

    • Chris Savage September 28, 2014 at 11:36 am #

      Thanks Charlie!

  7. Jane Young September 26, 2014 at 11:23 am #

    A great post, a great reminder, thanks Chris!

    • Chris Savage September 28, 2014 at 11:35 am #

      Thanks Jane!

  8. Jim September 26, 2014 at 11:41 am #

    ‘Life’s too short’ – my Mum.

    • Chris Savage September 28, 2014 at 11:35 am #

      True, Jim

  9. Luis Garcia September 26, 2014 at 12:01 pm #

    Spot on, Chris. Sometimes, as you say, we take ourselves (and our perceived problems) way too seriously. This is business – important, yes, but not the end of the world. Cheers! And cheers again!

    • Chris Savage September 28, 2014 at 11:35 am #

      Thanks Luis- time for a cigar!

  10. Jill Porter September 26, 2014 at 12:03 pm #

    Perfect timing! Thanks it was just what I needed to hear.

    • Chris Savage September 28, 2014 at 11:34 am #

      Good to hear, Jill

  11. Adrianne September 26, 2014 at 12:52 pm #

    So true … I recently wrote a post that has some synergies to this Chris … we all have a reset button we can push if we want it. Keep smiling! http://gotaroundtoit.wordpress.com/2014/09/17/today-is-the-first-day-of-the-rest-of-your-life/

    • James September 26, 2014 at 4:10 pm #

      Great blog! You should take a close look at the culture of that great children’s familly cancer charity, Camp Quality. It will resonate with you loudly – http://www.campquality.org.au/public/home.aspx

      • Chris Savage September 28, 2014 at 11:34 am #

        Thanks James. Will read it tonight.

    • Chris Savage September 28, 2014 at 11:34 am #

      Thanks Adrianne

  12. John H September 26, 2014 at 5:18 pm #

    Chris. Very salient advice. Keep reminding me. I fear I will only follow it until the next “urgent” issue arises !

    • Chris Savage September 28, 2014 at 11:33 am #

      Will do Hurstie

  13. Sue-Ellen September 26, 2014 at 8:37 pm #

    Awesome blog as always Chris.
    I love the saying ‘the grass is greener where you water it’! It is up to us and how we choose to see things. We are not at affect, we are the creators of our results!

    • Chris Savage September 28, 2014 at 11:33 am #

      Thanks Sue-Ellen

  14. Sam October 1, 2014 at 10:12 am #

    Thanks as always Chris. A timely reminder – I have just sent that around the office to our team! Catch up soon

    • Chris Savage October 1, 2014 at 1:47 pm #

      Thanks Sam- sorry we did not see each other last week and hope we can make that happen in the next couple…Chris

  15. Jayne Albiston October 26, 2014 at 6:25 pm #

    Brilliant – as always! Thank you!

    • Chris Savage October 27, 2014 at 9:31 am #

      Thanks Jayne! Don’t forget to email me if you wanted to meet up as per your last comment etc. Thanks. Chris

Leave a Reply