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World Wide Group™

Why Leaders Know Pressure is a Privilege

A group of people look up onto a stage where a speaker in a white button-down shirt is talking into a microphone under bright lights.

Your heart is pounding, your palms are sweaty, your mind is racing … but you are ready! Your body’s response indicates that you’re in a high-pressure situation, but you’re also in a position to make an impact! We’ve all been in this type of situation at some point in our lives. As we run out on the field for the big game, head into a meeting full of new people, or step up to the mic for a speech in front of more than just our peers: It’s normal to feel nervous. Although nerve-racking, these situations are often indicators of tremendous opportunities to inspire others. The difference comes in how you view your role—you can be paralyzed by it or grateful for the doors that await to be opened. The perspective is up to you.  

Seven closed white doors are in a row with a blue patterned wallpaper behind them.

Shift your perception of pressure.

Every day, we experience a variety of pressures from a wide range of people. Pressure comes from our parents, our clients, our teachers, our kids, our spouse or partner, our coaches, and more. These pressures might be one or some of many things in life: to perform, to be perfect, to get results, to conform, to be different, to change … but it’s up to you on how you perceive these pressures.  


Depending on the attitude you adopt, you can let pressure cripple you or use it to your advantage. When you’re feeling pressured, remember to:  

  • Keep perspective. Pause and reflect on the significance of what you’re doing. If you end up bombing a presentation or missing a deadline, it might not actually be that serious of a setback in the larger scheme of things.
  • Develop gratitude. Be thankful for the opportunity to influence others.
  • Choose your attitude. Keeping a level-headed perspective will make all the difference.
  • Take a deep breath. It’s amazing how controlling your breath can create calm in other areas of your life.
  • Commit to doing your best. Deciding to give it your all makes a big difference in what you can accomplish.
  • Repeat this process often. Eventually, embracing pressure with a positive mindset will come more naturally. But for now, continue referencing these steps.
A close-up of a microphone sits in front of a blurry room full of upholstered chairs.

Great expectations.

Pressure precedes opportunity. Be grateful for the chance to learn, grow, and demonstrate your abilities. If your coach pulled you into the game or a leader invited you to speak, this means they have confidence in your ability to perform. They chose you over everyone else they could have contacted to participate that day. They trust in your abilities—now you need to believe in yourself. If you’re still feeling unsure, try out these strategies for increased success under pressure: 

  • Ask questions to ensure you understand your assignment. Clearing up any confusion will guarantee you’re confident heading into your preparation.
  • Be flexible and willing to adapt. You might be presented with different circumstances than you had originally anticipated (e.g., your audiovisuals might not be working). These last-minute changes can be stressful but try to go with the flow.
  • Visualize positive outcomes. Close your eyes and take a moment to see yourself being successful, first … then, make it happen.
  • Phone a friend. If needed, rely on your support system to give you a boost of self-assurance or advice. That’s what they’re there for. Don’t hesitate to utilize the expertise of others.
A baseball player in a red jersey follow through on a big swing of his bat as the catcher crouches behind him in anticipation.

Positive pressure.

Remind yourself that demonstrating your abilities, even when it means experiencing pressure, greatly benefits others. Don’t keep your gifts to yourself. Instead, consider:  

Spend time thinking, researching, and learning, so that you can pass your expertise along to others.  

Ultimately, pressure either breaks you or molds you into someone stronger. Rather than hesitating when you’re called up to bat, step up with confidence! Even if you need to figure some things out as you go, the pressure of getting it right will encourage you to become even greater than you already are. Rather than viewing pressure as negative, reframe your mindset. Pressure is a way to test your character and is a natural step in becoming an even better leader.   

Part of being able to view pressure as a privilege rather than a burden is to be in tune with your emotions.

Learn the art of increasing your emotional intelligence, here.
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