Dancing with pressure

How does pressure impact you, your work and your mindset?

The Lifespan of an Idea

With each idea, there comes a time where you have to make the decision to act upon the idea, shelve it, or leave it behind. If you choose to act, you enter into a commitment—a contract, if you will—to work together with the idea to bring it to life. The idea deserves nothing less. After all, considering the fact you have chosen this idea over all the others, it is likely to be important to you.

There is something quite magical to be found in the phase of an idea—before it officially becomes a ‘project’, but after the commitment has been made—when it’s just the two of you. No-one else even knows about it yet. It’s just you, the idea, and the happy-nervous hope for what comes next. It’s an exciting time; one of my favourite times in the lifespan of an idea.

At this point, you feel excited, confident and actually rather proud of yourself for having the guts to take the idea on. You love the idea, and the idea loves you. Sure, you know there is a lot of work to be done very soon, and likely to be some tough times ahead, but in your mind, there’s no need to ruin the moment by over-thinking that just yet. For now, you just enjoy the knowledge that you’ve taken the first step. Happy days.

For me, the next phase is about solidifying the commitment, to ensure I deliver. Generally, I will put the idea out to the world to ensure I follow through. It ultimately doesn’t matter how many people see it, or how many people interact or engage. It’s a symbolic act, which solidifies the contract with the idea. This is what I did with ‘The True North Project’, a week ago, by announcing it on my blog.

Pressure

Over the last week, something interesting happened in my mind that I was not expecting.

After sharing my intention to commit to this idea, my boat sprang a leak. My mindset almost instantly changed, and the project became something different. There was now a new, significant measure of pressure.

Now, I’m no stranger to pressure, and have put plenty of ideas out to the world before, but this one caught me off guard. Suddenly, it felt like this wonderful, glorious task of finding my own personal version of happiness and fulfilment had become impossible. The gremlins (the relentless voices in your mind with one purpose: cause havoc) quickly appeared, and my previously optimised mindset was falling apart. I was at a stand-still, overwhelmed.

Funnily enough, the pressure was almost entirely internal, and of my own creation. No-one forced me to put that project out into the world. Aside from 3 close friends I’d previous shared the idea with, no-one even knew. What’s more, the announcement of the project was met with overwhelming warmth, positivity and support.

It’s strangely fascinating to me, and it was an important realisation to have: my mindset surrounding a task changes considerably with the pressure of expectation; external or internal; real or imagined.

Surprise, surprise. But I’m glad to actually know it.

Keep learning. You don’t really have a choice.

I’m still not entirely sure if pressure makes me work better or happier. I’m still working on that.

However, in spite of the discomfort, overwhelm and the compromised mindset I felt as a result of my perceived pressure, it was worth it. I learned. I’ve grown. I’ve discovered a part of myself that I didn’t know before, and thus after plugging up the leak, my boat is now a little stronger and better equipped moving forward.

…and once you shine a light on the gremlins, they seem to lose their power. The pressure isn’t bothering me so much now.

Always be compassionate to yourself. It is possibly the most important thing to learn when embarking on a journey toward True North. Remember that you’re still learning, and making a mistake is nothing to be afraid of—there’s still much to be learned.

This goes for me too.


What about you? Does pressure make you perform better and/or happier?


Song:

‘Let it Happen’ by Tame Impala.

 

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