While I would much rather the team had plain sailing when it comes to getting the job done, it makes my chest swell watching them prevail time and time again in the face of adversity. This has got me thinking about stress and why people handle stress differently to others. I personally feel I come into my own in high pressure situations – somehow for me pressure can create clarity that you cannot get from a more rationale and calm approach to problem solving.
So I did some pondering around the positive side of stress and picked out a few of the more prominent traits I see when the brown stuff is hitting the twirly thing. I have not checked with the team, but I am sure some of this will resonate with them also.
Here is my spin on things when it comes to facing into a high pressure situation:
In my view, never is it easier to prioritise than in a crisis. For some reason juggling your responsibilities in ‘ordinary’ times can be a real challenge, but when the pressure cooker comes on, it seems so easy to cast aside the less important. Filter quickly, communicate widely, knuckle down on what matters most.
Now is the most important time
Ordinarily and importantly we generally try to balance our thinking and planning with what happened in the past, what is required now and what is required in the longer term. This is important for making well informed decisions today, under normal circumstances. Having a longer lens on things when you are trying to make urgent and critical decisions can be a derailer to making a call on something important in a timeframe that minimises fallout. If on either side of a particular crisis you were operating with a wider view, then this isolated situation in time should not derail anything to a large extent, certainly not to the extent it cannot be massaged after the initial pressure is off.
I can be a real procrastinator in certain areas and again, highly stressful situations make that habit melt right away. It doesn’t matter how ugly or how dirty or how scary a situation is, when time is of the essence and the fallout is severe, all bets are off.
So while a psychologist will have a much longer list of things that happen under stressful situations, this is a blog, not a whitepaper, and I am no doctor. These are the things that fascinate me in that I can be mediocre at them in the normal hub-bub of business, but become an expert when all hell is breaking lose. If the inversion of these traits when under pressure resonates with you, then I guess we all need to figure out how to make them easier to turn off and on whenever the need arises!
After watching so many situations where the team end up with their head in their hands over the last 24 months, only to be shortly followed by putting on their cape and charging off to make everything right with the world, I guess we have a crew that also leverages the benefits (?!) of stress.