Intense pressure can either crush a piece of coal and turn it into dust that is good in furnaces of industries like steel producers or if it can stand the pressure than that lump of coal becomes a diamond. One becomes a part of the process to make value and the other is made valuable as a symbol of love or a nearly indestructible tool.
Which do you want to become when the pressure is on? Unlike that piece of coal, we get to decide. Let me assume that you want to be the diamond. Here are some tips to help you to strengthen your core and then endure the process so that in the end you shine.
How to work under intense pressure to succeed
Before the Pressure Comes
Create small pressures
It is rare that someone is born naturally resilient. It takes time to build your character up to be able to handle the stress and the strain of a life where the pressure is intense enough to turn you into a diamond. It can be compared to education in mathematics. It would be unreasonable to push a first grade student who does not know basic addition principles to solve an algebra problem. She must build up to adding skill to skill and then they can solve the more difficult problems. As a leader in a home, play or work situation you must train yourself in as many minor crisis’s as possible. When I was training to be an Army Officer we would do these field exercises where we were being evaluated and the pressure was intense. The more intense that they could make the training the better these officers would be in combat. A little sweat in training will save blood in combat. Don’t wait for others to create these for you. Create a deadline for your goals that maybe only you know. Push yourself for that guideline and add in additional factors to make it more challenging.
Regardless of where the pressure is coming from being in good shape mentally and physically will prepare you for the intense pressure. Find something that you enjoy doing to develop your mind and body. Lately I have learned to enjoy splitting wood. I find that it helps me to process my day and creates a certain amount of sweat and muscle failure before I am done. You can join a gym or buy exercise equipment. There are several great books and videos out there that can help you to develop your personal fitness. Create a training plan and push yourself. The strength you build today will come in handy tomorrow.
Study those who have endured pressure in the past
History is full of men and women who became diamonds when they endured. Read their stories. Military generals, statesmen, activists, artists and pretty much any other profession that is out there will have their examples of world changers who endured a great deal of pressure. Interestingly it is much more difficult to find stories of those that were crushed to dust. Do some research and even if they are in a different profession you might be able to learn something from them.
When the pressure comes
Stay focused on the target
It can become very tempting to chase rabbits in the midst of a crisis. Everything seems important and if you believe that is true than you will run ragged just trying to herd the cats. Instead figure out what must be done. This might be a good place to call in your other leaders or mentors. A wise man once said that in the multitude of counselors there is wisdom. Determine what you want the ultimate outcome to be and then work backwards one step at a time. Once you have a solid list you can start with step one. Regardless of what happens don’t forget the ultimate target. Even with a solid plan it is easy to get off track. I read once that in reality a pilot flying a plan is off course over 90% of the time and makes tiny corrections as she goes along so that she gets to the destination. Pay attention to the results of each step. Make adjustments as needed.
Take it one problem at a time
Once a problem reveals itself it typically reveals more problems. Again it is easy here to lose focus. In the Army we would say, “One shot, one kill.” Take careful aim at the first problem, solve it or get things in motion to solve it and then move on. If you try to hit all of the targets at the same time not only will you miss most of them, one will get close enough to bite you. This is another good place to bring in your leadership, in really intense situations the crisis cannot be solved by one person. A firefighter will not be able to put out the fire by himself if the crisis is larger than a trashcan fire. A policeman cannot hope to successfully conduct a raid by himself. Gather your team around you and delegate, brainstorm and figure out which targets must be hit and in what order. When you make the plan, figure out the targets that are closest and work on them first. Work your way back until you have victory.
Never give up
Nearly every project or run that I have ever started I have had a point where I thought that I should throw in the towel. This moment comes and will be the ultimate test of your metal. What are you made of? How much grit do you have? Every time that I push forward through the pain and suffering of that moment I have come through feeling good about myself and usually the project is complete. Additionally each time I do that I gain an ounce of grit, an ounce of knowledge that I can do more than I thought that I could do and an ounce of carbon that is ready to be turned into a diamond. Excuses never lead to growth.
Coal dust has a purpose and is important. It is difficult to imagine a world where we don’t have cars, appliances or tall buildings. All of those things required coal dust though we rarely if ever really think about it. Even the coal dust served to make something that would last but it is simply not precious nor a great symbol of love or power. You can have purpose in your life even if you cannot withstand the pressure it takes to become a diamond. But if you get into those situations where a diamond is needed, I hope you have one close by or even better if you are one.