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Please Don’t Glorify Succeeding Under Pressure

All our lives we surround ourselves with invisible emotional pressure nudges. We mistakenly even go ahead and thank these pressure nudges for making us successful. It's time we became a bit more self aware.

Please don't glorify working under pressure.

You know what looking back that’s the best thing that could’ve happened with me. I was changing jobs, unhappy and generally directionless. Until my father gave me an ultimatum. He asked me to sort my life in the next 1 year or else he’d get me married.

Moral of the story: Pressure brings the best out of you.”

So read the status of a most trustworthy & featured writer on LinkedIn. Scrolling my feed down till the Moral of her story, I just couldn’t help but feel sad. The post was meant to motivate and make others feel happy about her story. 

And sure people were buzzing with comment replies with laughing smileys, cheering glasses, thumbs up emojis and the like. One of the guys had mentioned how similar things happen with her sister and he was the lucky one not to go through this pressure and ended the comment with a 😛 smiley.

I was utterly sad, so sad at the dire state of mental conditioning of a generation of young Indians who have always been pressurised to achieve results.

Time’s running out. Do you need pressure as a catalyst to succeed? Photo by Nathan Dumlao on Unsplash

The true emotional & personal growth usually ceases under the pressure of parents and the schooling system at large.

Not getting enough marks in your school exams? Let’s cut down his play time and put him in tuitions. He needs to study more and laze around less.

Not zeroing down on her career plans soon enough? Oh we will just get her married.

Not zeroing down on his career plans soon enough? Oh how can you do this with your parents? They want support and help from you in their retirement.

And the list continues. So many emotional pressure nudges that the individual never explores his/her own career or personal interests in life. Most of the time it’s a race against an invisible clock – one that has a time for everything including your education and marriage.

For those of you who disagree, try running a 100 metre track with a stone tied to your legs. Yes you might think it’s different and sure it is. Physical pressure is unhealthy and must not be practiced. Mental pressure isn’t visible most times, though it’s unhealthy & continues without a lapse.

I am not writing this to influence a mass movement against your parents. Don’t get me wrong. I’m aware they love us deeply and vice-versa.

What I’m asking for is a practice in self awareness.

And it begins with not glorifying working under pressure. Pressure of any form, either workplace or parental is not healthy. It might show results in the immediate time frame but takes a toll and is not sustainable.

Internalising this fact is much harder than reading it. In the dense webs of culture, ambitions, and self-criticism, pressure plays an underlying role.

It’s like a subtle feeling that influences the way you work, perform and make decisions. Later in life if there’s any other project you might think of picking, you’d necessarily put yourself under pressure. If you reach a managerial position, these underlying feelings could convert to what you’d expect from colleagues and reportees. After all pressure needs to bring the best out of everyone, isn’t it?

But I’m proud of my success. Am I not allowed to talk about it?

Yes you must be. In fact in all definiteness I’m happy that you sailed through. Your success story should definitely strike a chord with people who’ve thrived under similar situations but should also be sympathetic towards others who might not have succeeded. It’s better to give yourself a pat on the back rather than turn the spotlight towards stressful situations and set a bad precedent.

In fact coping with failure becomes even more tough for most individuals under pressure. A flurry of self-criticism kicks in as you further increase the mercury on the stress barometer. Every day we hear so many cases of people unable to cope up with pressure and losing their lives. Students, employees, homemakers – the list is endless.

Daniel H. Pink in his bestselling book: Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us, tells us 7 reasons why working under pressure (which he calls the Carrots & Sticks situation) is deadly. Take a look at the image below.

Do you need more reasons than these?

The path to a healthy happy you starts with self awareness. An awareness that you’re not a robot who can sustain high performance deliveries under pressure. An awareness that you’re a human being that needs a conducive environment to blossom.

Be kind not just to others, but yourself to begin with. Ask yourself would you rather work on a project, a career plan in your own good time versus work on a tight deadline, that you didn’t set for yourself to begin with?

Be kind to yourself to start with. Photo by Thomas Dils on Unsplash

The pace at which you work can always be changed if it’s you the one who sets the deadlines. Plan for a project in advance. Categorise your tasks and from your self knowledge assign timelines to them. Commitment won’t be an issue at all then. Talk to your boss if the workplace pressure is too much to cope with – there’s no shame in calling a spade a spade.

Pressure might bring the best out of you in cases but is definitely not sustainable. Don’t glorify pressure for yourself or for those around you. It’s ok to be slow and consistent rather than being quick and edgy.

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