The One Word That Will Eliminate Your Pressure

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I used to work 100 hour weeks.

I still do, on rare occasions. But back when I was first producing my weekly comedy TV show Almost Live!, they were routine.

And most of those 100 hours, especially the final 24, were in panic mode. I spent much of those 24 hours trying to hide the panic from my staff.

So why was I in such a panic? Because the pressure was overwhelming, and I didn’t know how to handle it.

Each week, we had to invent an entirely new show. This show would be seen by a live studio audience of 175 people and then, just a few hours later, by a television audience of up to a million throughout the Pacific Northwest and British Columbia. And if we didn’t keep those numbers up, we could be canceled at any time.

Fast forward 5, 10, 15 years. I’m still producing Almost Live!. The numbers are the same, and the stakes are as high. There’s still pressure, but there’s no panic. None. And I’m working about 40-50 hours a week. Oh, and the ratings are actually higher.

So what changed?

One word: confidence.

Almost Live! is history now, but over the course of my 15 years as Executive Producer, I got confident. Why? Because I got good at it. Together with my team, I successfully made it through each challenge, each crisis. And over time, these successes go into a kind of “success bank.” So when the next crisis comes, you can look into the bank and think, “This is nothing. I’ve been here before. I’ve got this.”

And you know what? It’s really hard to choke under the pressure when you have an attitude of “This is nothing; I’ve been here before; I’ve got this.”

Panic becomes history when you’re confident of your #success. #ProducingUnderPressure Share on X

I know that you feel pressure in your job, too. Maybe not every week, but certainly from time to time. So the next time you’re there, the next time you’re under pressure and you feel those first small feelings of panic setting in, here’s what I want you to do, in order:

  1. Breathe deeply and slowly for one to two minutes.
  2. Look at the situation you’re facing. Then look into your own “success bank” and see if you’ve ever successfully faced a similar situation. Chances are, you have.
  3. While continuing to breathe deeply and slowly, tell yourself, “This is nothing. I’ve been here before. I’ve got this.”

Now look, I’m a realist. I’m not saying that doing these three steps will remove all the pressure. After 15 years, I still felt the pressure that came with each show. What was gone, though, was the panic.

When you remind yourself of your past successes, you don’t necessarily change the situation, but you do change the context of the situation.

Maybe you can’t change the situation, but you can change the context of the situation. #ProducingUnderPressure Share on X

And when you can do that, you’ll find that you can, consistently, produce under pressure.


About the Author:

29-time Emmy Award winner and Hall of Fame keynote speaker Bill Stainton, CSP is an expert on Innovation, Creativity, and Breakthrough Thinking. He helps leaders and their teams come up with innovative solutions — on demand — to their most challenging problems.
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