Thrive In Your Business By Managing High Levels Of Pressure
You probably didn’t realise exactly what pressures and stresses you were going to experience when you started out in business. Sounding familiar? I definitely wasn’t prepared early on for the onslaught of business growth by a long shot!
With a huge level of uninformed optimism, we sit and plan for months, if not years on the retirement plan that is our new business. Waiting for all our plans to be executed exactly as intended and for the money to start rolling in.
Fast forward to the end of your first year. You now realise the realities of becoming a business owner and are beginning to receive your first badges in entrepreneurship.
One of the first badges is of course pressure. A test of resilience and stamina while constantly problem solving, evolving, learning and adapting (or trying to keep your head above water).
Stress and pressure are inevitably a condition we have to manage in our lives on a regular basis. However, as business owners, we tend to be on the front-line of widely shifting degrees of pressure and stress in our lives and could even say we attract more of it than most.
From managing staff, client loads, the constant juggle on new and existing business, lead generation issues and the dreaded cash flow of course. Let alone the additional strain on family life, personal finances, and relationships.
I can guarantee you have experienced some pain in your business around these, if not, many others.
When we look at it though, allowing stress to manage our business is far from ideal. In fact, it can be devastating if it hangs around long enough, not only for our cherished business but also relationships, family, and our overall health.
So let’s take a moment to look at stress in more detail. In particularly the pressure that is almost always the precursor to stress factors and triggers and how we can become aware of, and start managing our pressure threshold.
What Is Your Pressure Threshold?
Your pressure threshold is simply the point at which pressure becomes unmanageable and stress as a misguided survival mechanism takes over.
It’s the tipping point between the two and it usually a result of excessive, multiple pressure areas combined with a lack of planning, structure or perspective on any given situation - as well as sometimes due to a lack of knowledge, understanding or experience.
Now it’s important to understand that each and every one of us has a different pressure threshold and more importantly that the point at which pressure becomes stress can be managed. Our ability to manage pressure is a sliding scale based on our perception of our environment or situations at any given time.
This is because we use a series of auto-saves from previous experiences to assess our ability to undertake that task subconsciously. Something that is familiar carries a lot less perceived pressure than undertaking something for the very first time for instance.
If we are in a situation we have experienced before or have knowledge or understanding of then our pressure threshold increases. If we are in a completely new or unfamiliar situation our pressure threshold decreases. The key variable here is the unknown.
As an example, a Royal Marine would have an incredibly high-pressure threshold in line with the environment they work in.
Why are their pressure thresholds so high?
This is because they execute extreme levels of planning, practice, and structure for hundreds of different scenarios to such a degree that they respond automatically with high levels of awareness in their environment continuously.
This planning, structure and regimental approach removes 98% of the unknown variable and subsequently increases their pressure threshold. They are prepared and ready for the unexpected and rehearse for situations that are often unpredictable and unstable.
4 Ways To Increase & Manage Your Pressure Threshold
1. Do Something That Scares You! Yes, Really
The idea here is to directly increase your pressure threshold by learning to operate in stressful situations in a controlled way. This process is called stress conditioning and is often used by athletes.
It works incredibly well with your pressure threshold because it allows you to practice being in unfamiliar or unknown situations and adapting to respond positively.
The idea is to create managed stress and repeat the process until you feel more comfortable and in control of that situation.
For me, this includes trips to theme parks (which I find stressful) and activities that really push me away from my comfort zone such as sky-diving or obstacle course runs - although you, of course, don’t need to be so extreme. You could try public speaking, taking a lead on a group project or even tackling a phobia head on.
A really good example of this is your first day at new job. You are overwhelmed and may experience fears about your ability to undertake the new role and its responsibilities - however, within a few days you would have learned to adapt to what was once unknown and scary until it becomes simple and easy.
2. Practice High Levels of Structuring
This is a personal favourite of mine but requires high levels of discipline. The results are huge performance boosts in motivation, enthusiasm, and productivity.
It consists of a high degree of planning on a quarterly, monthly and weekly basis. To achieve this you need to determine what projects, goals or aims are to be worked on throughout your quarter, then break them into monthly goals and weekly task lists. You can start with simple tables on a word document.
This approach will teach you to better manage your time and energy (you need to stick with it for a minimum of 3 months though), meaning you can operate with higher levels of pressure because everything is scheduled in a way that means you focus only on the tasks for the day, every day.
By learning to correctly manage a higher volume of work or activities on a regular basis you will increase your pressure threshold.
You’ll note the first week you try this you will always overestimate what you think you can achieve in one day and one week, but don’t worry when this happens you will start a process of stress conditioning as mentioned in point 1.
This is also something I do closely through in business coaching & consultancy with many of our clients to help them achieve their personal and business goals over time.
3. Give Yourself More Time & Space
Whatever you feel you can achieve comfortably in a week or a day - half it IMMEDIATELY.
You may now say - but I'll never get everything done?
The key to remember here is when we are stressed - exceeding our pressure threshold - our ability to focus and deliver high levels of productivity is reduced by up to 50%.
By giving yourself more time and space within a day or week gives us a time contingency or buffer for managing our task while taking into account additional pressures throughout the day (i.e. calls, emails, client needs etc)
4. Increase Your Awareness of Being Busy
Being too busy can lead to a feeling of being overwhelmed, which in turn often leads to excessive pressures, triggering stress.
Have you ever said you are too busy?
Whenever we say ‘I’m too busy’ remind yourself what you are actually saying is you are not managing your time or energy properly or effectively. At this point, you’ll typical be very close to stress triggers as even a simple call from your husband or wife with an additional task that day can tip you over pressure edge into a place of stress.
Ask yourself regularly - am I too busy today?
If you answer yes then go back to point 2 and 3 above; give yourself more time, more space and re-structure your day, week or month to allow more capacity in your life or to remove the excess pressures. Bringing you back under your pressure threshold.
Managing and learning to increase your pressure threshold in business will bring you huge benefits. Not only in the growth of the business, but in you personally. After a few months you’ll start to automatically reprogram your ability to manage pressure and in the process experience valuable leaps in productivity with a lot fewer points of stress.