The biological world, of which we are one example, responds to external pressures. In our daily life, we encounter and respond to external pressure, pressures that induce internal stress essential for personal growth. Pressure causes angst, angst prompts decisions and actions, and these incite success or failure and the opportunity to learn and grow. Embrace the external pressure and stressors of daily life. Every successful person has grown step by step in constructive response to the pressures of the world around them. Internal stress is essential to personal growth.

Performance pressure is good… to a point. External pressure can induce personal internal stress that yields performance improvement. Too much pressure can push us to our breaking point (BP), thus causing strain. At the BP, more pressure creates personal strain, a rapid performance reduction, and perhaps a bit of personal chaos or dysfunction. We each have a personal BP, a BP based on the emotional resiliency we have developed over our lifetime. As we grow emotional resiliency, our BP moves out, i.e., we grow more capable of tackling more.

It is important to understand and leverage your area of peak performance. External pressures (e.g., challenging deadlines) can prompt optimum performance. But do recognize the early warning signs of an approach to your personal breaking point. Develop a plan or the means to address this in real-time. Avoid hitting your breaking point. At a minimum, it is not productive.

Pushing past your personal BP induces internal strain, the point at which psychological stress begins to manifest in various forms of physiological and mental impairment to include flawed decision-making and unconstructive behaviors. When strain begins, have an approach to removal and recovery. The good news: By embracing the personal and professional growth opportunities tied to external pressures, we can expand our performance potential by pushing out the BP. Experience and practice can give us the ability to face new and bigger challenges. We toughen up … and, in so doing, develop the capacity to do more.