Recently I overheard someone use the phrase “Pressure is a Privilege.” At the time, it really struck me profoundly, and I wasn’t sure I had heard it spoken before.
As it turns out this was the title of Billy Jean King’s book released in 2008, which I admittedly have not read, but is clearly a great title for a book by a woman who famously persevered in a time of great pressure and became an American hero in the process. Like King, I learned this lesson early in my life through sport and have leveraged those experiences significantly in my work life.
As a consultant, your job is very often a thankless one. This can play havoc on your mind and attitude over time if you are not able to manage your emotions. There can be tight, often unrealistic deadlines, which you didn’t have any real say in. Yet everyone looks to you when it’s crunch time. When you can’t deliver, or the deadline is pushed, it can seem like the world is ending. When you succeed, you simply did your job, and that’s about where it ends. Maybe there is an all-company email sent out giving you kudos, or perhaps some virtual high-five in a new, slick, pat-on-the-back software. But those things really don’t come close to outweighing the tremendous volume of negative energy you end up dealing with on a day-to-day basis.
I live in the world of Workday production support, and have for 5 years. I have helped over 100 live Workday customers with a litany of production fire drills, and I can attest that there are never production tickets logged to tell you that you’re doing a great job. Of course, clients email management with compliments, and you yourself know when you’re doing a great job, but in general you are dealing with people on a bad day. Hell, they aren’t logging that payroll ticket because things are working! As if this situation can’t get any worse, you are also working remotely, and there is no one around to even talk or vent to. How a consultant deals with this could be the biggest reason why that person either succeeds or fails.
I have used many different methods over the years to help calm a scattered mind when things just seem like they are coming from all directions. But after hearing this very simple quote “Pressure is a Privilege,” I don’t know that there is anything as good as reminding yourself of that important fact. You should be honored to have a job where someone relies on you to the extent you feel this real and tangible pressure.
The term “pressure” is often, if not always, considered negative, and this is simply not the case. Just think of how bad some people out there really have it, and then think of how silly you sound sitting in front of your double flat screen monitors, iPhone in hand, and flat screen TV playing the background. Long story short, it can always be worse.
I am not saying it isn’t right to feel pressure, and for that pressure to bother you to an extent. All I am saying is allow yourself to step back, evaluate the situation, take a breath, and get back at it. At the end of the day, it’s just Workday! No one is going to die! Once you allow yourself to believe this truth, the job can become much more enjoyable, and even empowering. You won’t run from the pressure, you will run to it, you will own it! And I think you will find yourself doing better work and being much more capable of calming the nerves of those around you who haven’t yet grasped this concept.