Do you live from passion, or do you live under pressure?
As a young, hungry salesman I lived and worked from passion. The newness of the career and the open road ahead were exciting. But in time, providing for my family, the demands of the career, and juggling what seemed to be an insurmountable amount of responsibility began to create pressure.
Whether it’s navigating your career, caring for your kids, or serving at a church or organization, I’m sure you’ve felt passion turn into pressure. Many would argue that pressure is a good thing—that we perform better under pressure. But in my experience, pressure robs us of excellence. Sure, pressure might cause us to get things done, but productivity is no substitute for creativity.
So, can we learn to recognize and remove pressure?
Can we effectively grow passion and live more excellent lives?
It is possible to discover and tap into our creativity and purpose?
The answer is, yes, absolutely. Here are a few steps that I’ve found helpful in navigating the process.
Let’s Be Honest
The first step in removing pressure is getting honest about it. Until you’re willing to be honest that pressure-filled motives are fueling your life, you’ll never grow beyond where you currently are.
In recent years, I’ve had the opportunity to connect with very high-level, successful people. I’ve also had the opportunity to connect with a lot of people who seem successful. One of the most common qualities that separates the two is honesty. With truly successful people there’s no fluff, no passive-aggressive comments, no jockeying for position, just honesty.
These folks have a keen sense of who they are, they’re emotionally confident, and they speak directly about what’s in front of them. I call this the Shark Tank mentality. It seems cruel on the surface, but it’s just honest. And, it drives excellence.
Put the Shark Tank approach to work. Get honest.
What unneeded pressures are ruling your life?
Remove the Pressure
It’s so important to relieve the pressure in your life because pressure suffocates your greatness. It’s that simple.
Take debt for example. Some people believe that debt is a great motivator. That’s garbage. If debt was a great motivator, then people who were up to their eyeballs in it wouldn’t jump out of buildings when the bank calls their note due.
Pressures like debt and deadlines are temporary motivators—a flash-in-the-pan. They may produce the appearance of greatness, but over time they fade into stressed insignificance. Think of it this way. Working from pressure is striving for greatness. Working from passion is simply letting your greatness out into the world.
See the difference?
So, how do you remove pressure?
You have to be courageous.
No Cowardly Lions
Courage dissolves pressure.
My daughter recently became fascinated with The Wizard of Oz. Remember the Cowardly Lion? He didn’t get courage from the Wizard, he was reminded that he had it already.
About twelve years ago, I began singing at open mic nights. It scared the crap out of me. It was awkward and uncomfortable, but it was invigorating. The more I pushed beyond my comfort zone, the more courage grew. Pretty soon, I was playing regular gigs at local pubs and getting paid for it. Being on stage was electrifying for me. But it wasn’t about the music or the money, it was about the people. I loved connecting with people.
I took this love for people and a genuine passion to invest in them and began writing. The courage to start a blog led to the courage to write a book. Curiously enough, the courage I had developed on stage empowered me to begin speaking publicly. After that, I had the courage to take on a partner and we began a radio show. Then, we launched our own company. And most recently, I left a ten-year career to pursue my passion.
My point isn’t elevating my experience. It’s to tell you that my life is living proof that courage doesn’t start with a crazy, reckless move. It’s built over time. Like a muscle, courage grows when tested.
As the Wizard told the Cowardly Lion, “You’re a victim of disorganized thinking. You’re under the illusion that you don’t have courage.”
Courage is in you. Step into it.
Discover Your Greatness
If passion is what fuels creativity and purpose, pressure is the black hole that suffocates both.
I’m not suggesting that you leave your jobs today. But in every aspect of your life, passion is essential. Be willing to get honest about where you are and begin by taking small, courageous steps. Then, repeat that process.
If you’re vulnerable enough to press in, you’ll find yourself accomplishing things you never dreamed of.