June 25, 2015 by Jeff Lowen
We’re all told it’s the bane of our existence. Less stress = more life. However, according to high achievers, the first thing to understand is pressure and stress are your friend and your high-performance ally. This is something low achievers don’t understand.
Look, humans are designed not to COPE with stress, but to THRIVE on it. It is the psychological stimulant that fuels our daily performances to great heights. The human body performs at higher levels when STIMULATED by pressure and stress. Stress and pressure is the doorway to greater success.
On the opposite side, the absence of stress or feeling pressure is a sure sign of boredom, lack of interest and importance in what you do. The only time high performers are worried is when their heart isn’t racing. “The day I’m not nervous stepping onto the first tee—that’s the day I quit” says Tiger Woods!
Remember Bill Russell? He is widely considered one of the best players in NBA history. A five-time NBA Most Valuable Player and a twelve-time All-Star, Russell was the centerpiece of the Celtics dynasty, winning eleven NBA championships during his thirteen-year career. Russell holds the record for the most championships won by an athlete in a North American sports league.
Bill was notorious for throwing up before every game. But after the Celtics won their 7th straight Championship and before a game late in the 1963/64 season Bill didn’t throw up before the game. He had the worst game of his career and he, and the Celtics, began to spiral. When Bill pulled up to the arena before Game One of the playoffs he saw excited and eager fans lining the arena in mass. The pressure set in on Bill. He went into the locker room and puked. He then burst out of the stall and into the dressing room exclaiming to his teammates, “Guys, we’re gonna win!” Bill made connection between pressure and winning. They won the game and went on to win their 8th straight Championship.
Look at it this way, STRESS is different from distress. PRESSURE is different from anxiety and NERVOUSNESS is different from worry. Unless you learn to LOVE pressure and perceive stress as an advantage you are unlikely to join the ranks of high-performers. Use pressure and stress to draw out your greater performance and potential. And if there is any of that ‘dis-stress,’ anxiety or worry in your life, learning to love the pressure and thrive in it will make all that other stuff disappear!