How do you deal with pressure? I mean the kind that weighs on you, the kind that can cause stress. How do you confront it?

Leaders deal with pressure on a weekly, daily, sometimes hourly basis. There is pressure to meet deadlines at work. Pressure to give your boss the right report for the big presentation. Pressure to get everything done at home so your family can live a semi-normal life. Lots of pressure.

The Teenager’s Lament” is a great poem that describes this pressure well:

The Teenager’s Lament

Things, tasks, jobs to get through
None of them matter, yet all of them do
Do this, learn that, get something for you
Everything’s piling up. All writing, all working; there’s no time for play
Half ten on the clock, I look up in dismay
I’ve not looked at my maths, but exams start in May
And everything’s piling up.Planning school trips and my D of E route
“Continue to work hard; be kind and astute.”
I want to scream, but someone’s pressed mute
And everything’s piling up.I’m always exhausted; there’s just so much stress
It’s getting too much, I have to confess
How I’ll get through it is anyone’s guess
Because everything’s piling up.

It suddenly counts as the pressure mounts
And there’s no way to turn back the clock.

GCSEs, can’t time just freeze?
But I still hear that same old tick-tock

What if I fail? I begin to grow pale;
I so badly want to be top

Too lazy? Too keen? I’m only fifteen,
I just want to stand and yell “STOP!”

Sometimes, it feels like everything is piling up. And up.

We all deal with it. But is this a bad thing? I’d venture to say that pressure is a good thing if you respond with skill. I recommend using these tools next time the engine of inner peace needs a little tuning up.

Remember the BIG PICTURE.

Don’t get lost in the small details. Life is a tapestry of experiences woven together with thousands of threads. Each experience, each relationship, each perspective weaves a thread of detail into the journey. Make sure you stand back to view the full tapestry. It’s easier to find peace in this hectic world when we widen our view of ourselves and our circumstances. I take time at least once a week to stop and think about where I’ve come from, where I am in life, and where I’m headed. And why. It always helps to get a little perspective.

Set your PRIORITIES

My wife and I have a busy evening every night of the week. From the time we end our work day, to the time we lie down for rest, we’ve got a lot to do. Prepare dinner, clean up around the house, feed the baby, bath time with the baby, play time with the baby, pick up baby toys…you get the idea. Don’t get me wrong – we love it! However, some days the house get’s and stays pretty messy. Or dinner just doesn’t get cooked. Or, something else falls off the plate of life. We choose to let certain things go because quality time with our child is a priority to both of us. Sometimes the to-do list can wait!

Know your PARAMETERS

The engine of your car has limits. If you fail to change the oil, the motor will suffer. Hot pistons will wear down metal cylinders because they won’t have the lubrication they need. Eventually, the engine will blow up. Unfortunately I’ve experienced this personally. Lesson learned. Our life is the same; it has limitations and needs tending to. We need rest and recreation. So how about you? Where do you need to set some boundaries? What needs to wait? Who do you need to spend more time with, or less? The oil in our lives is the balance between work, play, family time, and rest time.

Peter Marshall once said,

When we long for life without difficulties, remind us that oaks grow strong in contrary winds and diamonds are made under pressure.

Sometimes the pressures in life become so great that you become despondent and actually think you won’t make it. Well, if that happens, don’t turn to alcohol or drugs. You’ll find no lasting relief there; only a diversion. And don’t tune out with TV or immerse yourself in media . Reality will still be there when you sober up. The best way to relieve pressure is to face the problem. Here’s a few things I do when the going gets really tough.

  1. Pray and open the Bible (Yes, a Christian response which has helped me thousands of times)
  2. Journal about it (This helps immensely. A problem well defined is half a solution)
  3. Talk with a close friend and be completely honest about the struggle you’re in. Problems seem to lessen when we share them with a trusted companion.
  4. Go camping! (Or fishing, or on a walk at a park.) Just get outside and disconnect for a day-or a weekend.
  5. If these steps don’t put wind in your sails, there’s alway professional counseling. I’m a big believer in spending time with a wise counselor during certain seasons of life.

Hopefully this will help you along your life journey. Leadership brings responsibility. And responsibility brings pressure. We should aim for perspective in our journey, priorities to guide us, and parameters on our time.

The word “pressure” usually gets a negative connotation, but where would we be without it? Deadlines give us the needed push to be productive. Pressure often comes from caring for the people we love. Pressure can arise from work that challenges our minds and bodies. Pressure comes from having a vision we want to realize. Without these “pressures,” life would be pretty boring wouldn’t it?

It's not that we have pressure; it's how we deal with it that really matters. Click To Tweet