Life puts a lot of pressure on us, but many times our self-induced pressure is a lot higher.
Let me share an analogy that I heard just last night.
When there are a lot of rocks and pebbles on a dirt road, a good, strong shoe will allow you to walk over it comfortably.
However, if in a good, strong shoe, there is even one stone inside, then even on a smooth, paved road it is very difficult to walk.
We can often face the challenges outside, but it is the weaknesses within that undermine us completely.
Self-induced pressure is one such stone that can cause us great problems. We do not even realize the amount of pressure we put on ourselves and how it affects our decision making, our success and our peace-of-mind.
In my career, I have coached may executives, and I have seen this phenomenon many times.
Let me share a couple of examples.
I was coaching a successful CEO who was leading the company well, but he was putting a lot of pressure on himself because he was distressed about his compensation.
The board had decided the annual bonus for Ken, but he was expecting at least three times the amount. The company had a very successful year.
Ken was unhappy because he felt the board was not valuing him enough. He thought they were overlooking the progress he had made and were shortchanging him.
I looked at the revenues and profits for the company, and the CEO’s compensation, and Ken was justified in thinking the bonus should be higher.
The problem was not that he was right, the problem was that he had become emotional and egoistic. In the board meeting, he had gotten a little ahead of himself, and then a couple of board members decided to dig their heels in. They wanted to send a message, and Ken didn’t like the message.
Ken felt slighted. How could the board disregard his value? He was upset, he was furious. It was an epic battle of egos. Ken was upset enough that he wanted to turn in his resignation. He was generating a lot of pressure on himself. It was difficult for him to climb down.
Hasn’t that happened to all of us. Sometimes, we are wrong, but we don’t want to admit and accept it. At other times, we are right, and because we are right, we get stuck in a stubborn cycle.
The problem is, in our righteousness, the decisions we take cause more harm than good. Ken was willing to walk away from all the hard work he had put into the company. That did not make sense.
Watch yourself, build a little self-awareness. It is important to understand the situation. Recognize if you are making the situation more difficult for yourself. Watch if your ego won’t let you accept a compromise or a solution that is less than what you want.
So many times, we let our ego get the better of us. Our mind can be our biggest friend or our biggest enemy.
You might be wondering what happened to Ken. Well after a lot of conversations, I walked Ken back from the edge of the precipice. He realized in his anger he was going to make a big mistake. He took the bonus they gave, and then waited for the right time.
Seven months later, he got an opportunity. With a calmer, less emotional mind, and an amenable board, he renegotiated a bonus scheme that would compensate him to his expectations.
Become self-aware. Learn to manage your mind. That way you will find more success. And, yes, seek an executive coach if you need help to calm your mind.
Self-induced pressure can destroy our peace-of-mind and our relationships.
Aaron was the CEO of a small real estate company. He was looking to aggressively grow the company, so he decided to increase his investments significantly. However, the following year the financial crisis hit.
Aaron’s investments were never at risk, but the rate of return was not going to be anywhere close to what he had projected. This bothered him to no end.
He became irritable and was short with his staff. He blamed his team for not stopping him, though the fact was he made all the decisions. The team did the research, but the final investing decision was his. He began to question his timing and judgement.
That was not all, it affected his relationships at home. It became a problem.
Aaron was unhappy about the financial crisis. He was caught in the cycle of could-haves and should-haves. Only if he had waited a year to invest, he could have picked up the properties at a lower price.
There is no end to that thinking. Aaron put so much pressure on himself he was risking his relationships.
Aaron had to realize, life does not go according to plan. He was disciplined enough where he did not take undue risk. His company could still handle. That was not the problem, the problem was his own expectations. He had fantasized about how the investments would fare and they were not performing anywhere close to his vision. It was eating him on the inside.
Finally, Aaron realized he needed to step back. He needed to accept the situation and live with his investments and wait for the economy to pick up. Which it did and his company did fine. All his complaining and regret was a waste. All it did was torture him.
We all need to learn what our mind can do to us. If we do not manage our mind, we can lose a lot more than we originally lost.
We must watch for self-induced pressure. When we put a lot of pressure on ourselves our emotions take over and then it becomes difficult for us to break through the vicious cycle.
Risking Your Peace-of-Mind
Generating or creating pressure on yourself can have major repercussions. We could lose a lot more if we are not careful. We can take actions and decisions that can be harmful.
The biggest damage we do to ourselves is we lose our peace. We ruin our life for ourselves. We can have a great life, be successful, and yet if we put excessive pressure on ourselves it can compromise our state of mind.
Your peace of mind is your most valuable asset. Letting self-induced pressure steal your peace of mind is a huge mistake.
Transform Your Thinking
We always want the best from life. But sometimes, it’s our own expectations that cause the most damage. We trap ourselves in our own expectations. Strive for the best, but make sure your own expectations do not become your nemesis.
So how do we reduce self-induced pressure? Become self-aware.
You need to realize how your mind thinks. You need to watch yourself and start recognizing the pressure you put on yourself.
Will your pressure disappear overnight? No, of course not. Like anything else, you have to form a habit of thinking differently.
Should you stop yourself from aspiring higher. No, not at all. Though, always remember aspirations are there for you, you are not there for your aspirations. Let me say that differently, you and your peace-of-mind are much more important than your aspirations. Aspire but do not let aspirations become such a huge burden that they debilitate you. Be vigilant. Be the boss of your aspirations.
Passion is far superior than obsession!
— By Ravi Kathuria, Author, “How Cohesive is Your Company?”
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