The Principle of the Rope
George asked, “Do you ever feel pressure?”
He was thinking about the breadth and depth of the Leadership Freak audience, as well as, the rigorous writing schedule I maintain.
George is one of a few college students I meet with. Really, he’s a friend.
He hopped in my Toyota pickup truck and I asked where he wanted to go. We ended up sitting outside a local cigar shop talking about life and leadership. My intention, during these conversations, is usually the same.
The principle of the rope:
Clarity is the result of dropping back into the weeds after climbing a rope for a look around. The big picture helps us make sense of the weeds.
My job is to throw the rope.
Life, for the most part, is lived in the weeds. Confusion is losing sight of the big picture while hacking away in the weeds. An important decision caused George to feel pressured. I lowered the rope.
Back to George’s question …
- Pressure is self-imposed. I create pressure for myself by setting high standards. For example, I set a goal to post 365 times this year. So far, I’m on track for 363.
- Do it for you. I write for me. A large audience doesn’t stress me out because I’m not writing for the audience.
- Show up to serve. It doesn’t matter if the audience is 50 students, 1,300 CEO’s, or 5,000 nonprofit leaders. Just show up to add value.
- Bring yourself to challenges and opportunities. Pressure mounts when you fake it for others. We all grapple with this. The worst experiences I have as a presenter come from trying to be something I’m not.
- Connect with people who share your values and enjoy what you do. Don’t worry about the others.
Bonus: Express – don’t define – yourself by what you do.
What suggestions for handling pressure might you add?
Excellent point about the pressure being self-imposed…and maybe even over-inflated, all done by ourselves in a nanosecond. One of the leadership juggles is that big picture/boots on the ground balancing act. Not only do you have to ‘know’ what is happening on the ground, you have to ‘feel’ it on several levels. Guess that is aligned with your #4 point.
You know what would be great Dan? When we are driving, as you look in your side mirrors and that warning says, ‘objects may be closer than they appear’…having one that looks ahead and reflects the big picture…still might need some sort of warning…objects ahead are not as big as you make them out to be…but they are still there.
Home stretch for 363/365, that’s not only consistency, but quality too, Sir! Course, one might also say that still leaves you room to get even better…or from another tack, you could do 2 posts in one day a couple of times and hit 365/365 😉
Thanks Doc. I respect your insights. Your addition of “feel it” is so valuable. The feeling side of leading is something that I ignored for years. It’s becoming very important these days.
Regarding two posts in one day… interesting thought. 🙂
I like that. Pressure is self-imposed. And I can un-impose it, at least briefly. If I am at a client site, I will go take a walk. If I am at home, I will walk away from the pressure by going to the piano and working on a tough passage for an hour, or go out to the workshop and turn something simple on the lathe. I will get lost in the activity (hands and brain) for an hour, and when I return to my desk pressure has turned to focus and the weeds don’t look nearly so thick.
I love the personal authenticity in your five points. Thanks, Dan.
And Dan, you are welcome to those other two days.
Thanks Steven. The idea that if we cause it we can solve it is powerful. It speaks to personal responsibility and power. Thanks for clarity on that.
Some form of mental escape has a powerful impact. Sometimes I take leaders out on the water. It’s a great change in environment. Thanks for sharing your strategies.
“Take a pill” reduces blood pressure! Seriously, we can learn to manage pressure by prioritizing, I have overcome many situations by the priority list first and the rest fall into place.
If you have multiple events, you may have to get creative and delegate if your fortunate to have those sources. Pressure has a relief valve, each of us have to find ways to let it blow!
Calming music, speaking to a friend, seek advice, doing what relaxes you the best!
Thanks Tim. Prioritizing and delegating didn’t come to mind this morning. Good call. Thanks for your insights.
Thanks for sharing your writing coach – you have made a positive impact on my life (and my clients). Unintentional consequences 🙂
Thanks Perspect… You sure know how to lift a guy!
Be authentic. A timely reminder. Thanks, Dan.
Thanks Albert. I think it’s a lesson that I keep learning and learning again.
I love the perspective in expressing yourself through what you do, as opposed to defining yourself that way. Lots more room for risk and creativity!
thanks for your thought of being in the weeds. I try to educate/update/empower and untangle my team by communitaction and team building. The everyday struggles are great in Healthcare with so much changing and so little time to adjust before another change is put in your lap. I like the thought of using the rope to lift yourself up and not to hang yourself (lol). So easy to be negative-so much healthier to look for a bright idea/ smile and push through it. have a Blessed weekend. thanks for the encouragment.
So funny…I’ve been having an ongoing conversation with my wife and kids for months about fear being self-imposed as a way to not let it control you, but it never dawned on me to see pressure in the same way. Timely and beneficial word, Dan…thank you!
There continues to be millions of people who refuse to believe that personal and workplace pressures and stress can cause severe physical illness—and that stress is just an excuse for doctors not knowing what is really ailing their patients. While a bit funny, a colleague (not jokingly) told me he’s tried to describe stress to skeptical patients—usually men—as when they are defecating and they have to bear-down real hard—and their face gets red and they may even get a headache—until their bowels move. So, yes, stress is real and can take its toll physically.
Oppositely, there was psycho-physiological experiment performed by a social psychologist Amy Cuddy—with respect to turning the tables on stress and using the body to counteract stress. It was simply about the significance of how we “pose” (like when we take a photo) when we are stressed.
One group was instructed to assume a high-power pose and another a low-power pose, both for two minutes. The high-power pose group members stood tall and placed their hands on their hips or held their arms out (open, wide, and taking up space). The low-power pose group members were not instructed, and so many folded their arms inward and slouched (closed, confined, and taking up less space).
After just two minutes, the high-power pose group’s testosterone levels increased 20%, and their cortisol levels decreased 25%. The high-power group was found to be far more willing to take risks than the low-power posers in subsequent tests. Increased testosterone makes us more assertive, while decreased cortisol makes us less anxious and stressed.
The main idea: It starts with ACTION. Think about it for a moment. Just two minutes of assuming the posture of power resulted in a bio-chemical shift toward being a more powered individual. Two minutes led to hormonal changes that configure our brain to basically be assertive, confident, and comfortable, or stress-reactive and feeling kind of shut down.
If and when pressure and stress come our way, we have the power and wherewithal to say: This is NOT how my story is going to end.
I don’t know how you do it everyday…not the writing. I’m talking about how you read my mind, and know just what topic to write about. Healthy/sick cultures, 5 points of feeling pressure…the list could go on and on. Life does occur in the weeds…and we each need a coach to occasionally throw us a rope…or a fantastic blogger at least! Everyday you throw us a rope and help us focus on the big picture! Thanks for the great encouragement and advise (I could probably post THAT 363 times this year!)!
An interesting post with good messages taking rope as the comparison link.
Liked the last statement- ‘Connect with people who share your values and enjoy what you do. Don’t worry about the others.’
Great Post. All of the posts are great this one, about the rope, really resonates with what is going on today. I canât print any of these posts. Are they designed not to able to print? I do enjoy
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I shared this to someone I care that seems to be a good leader in business and hoping it would work on a personal level. I threw a lifeline but I think it backfired on me. I am choking on weeds. What a wist of fate. Good article though.
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