The quote in the article stopped me in my tracks. “Pressure is a privilege.” Wow, I’d never thought of it like that. Mike Babcock, coach of Team Canada at this year’s World Cup of Hockey, was responding to the expectations that come with his team’s frontrunner status.
The pressure of high expectations is a privilege. It comes when you have exceptional talent or skill. It comes when you’ve been successful. It comes when you have a legitimate opportunity to win. If you’ve worked hard to become really good, then you’ve earned the pressure that comes with high expectations.
How did we come to view pressure as a bad thing? Excessive pressure can be a bad thing. Yet not enough pressure leads to complacency. That’s a bad thing. An optimal amount of pressure is what leads to the best results.
People experience pressure differently. It’s like the engineering distinction between stress and strain. Stress is the concentration of force applied to an object. Strain is the change in that object as a result of the force. Different objects with different properties respond differently to stress.
Adaptation to pressure can be trained. Which means we can learn to respond effectively to increasing amounts of pressure over time. If those increases aren’t too great, too soon.
Pressure is a privilege. Understand it. Apply it. Embrace it.