Coping Mechanisms for High Pressure Management

Pressure can result in higher or lower output. A healthy dose of pressure can result in flow state, increased focused, and clarity of decision making and action. Too much pressure and you are crushed by the weight and stress of the situation. What’s the difference? The output is determined by how the pressure is transformed to action via internal coping mechanisms. Our work is a living pressure cooker. How are we improving our transformative powers? And, at what rate?

A few of my favorite coping mechanisms include changing your point of view, getting help, and documenting processes.

Changing your point of view – Is this a problem or an opportunity? Is the obstacle the way? By rethinking the circumstance from a variety of viewpoints one can see the whole picture more accurately. As you gain accuracy, you increase the probability of insight. With insight, you gain confidence to act. When you act, you resolve challenges and secure opportunities.

Getting help – Perhaps you need a second set of eyes? Have you sought outside counsel? From many? Or, maybe you need someone to take a task for the short term? Or, maybe you need someone to take responsibility for the long term? By asking for help you retain the pressure of accountability, but you engage others and share the workload.

Documenting processes – can engage your various viewpoints, allow others to contribute and allow you to train others to undertake your responsibilities. You should only do the things which you cannot document. Then, you should strive to document and permanently delegate. Push work down to a lower cost teammate. Help them rise to your performance level quickly, meet your deadlines and meet your standards. Then, challenge them to make it better, faster and more automated. Ask them to do likewise. What at the lowest level can be delegated to the floor? What can go to a machine? Give people the chance to do what only people can do.

Managing pressure well is an unlock for personal and personnel growth. For me personally, I’ve found starting companies very easy. It’s much harder to scale up a company. There are way more people involved. And, few people develop extremely fast. Those who are capable of rapid develop often outpace their organizations. This has been true for us as well. If you can handle the pressure, and convert it intelligently, into solid output you rise quickly. If you rise quicker than we rise at the top, then you tend to reach escape velocity. That’s great. I’m thrilled by that outcome. I’m especially thrilled when we get to retain some ownership of your future value creation, either from the work you did for us while here, or through equity partnership with you long term.

Partners often suggest I am the limiting factor of Little Engine Ventures. I agree. My skills (or lack thereof) have gotten us into and out of many weird situations. But, we are also throttled by our teammates as well. The cool thing about a team though is that you can develop individuals and you can also bring in more teammates. However, before you hire in the help you think you need, you ought to review your level of operational excellence and your personal coping mechanisms for pressure. Have you exhausted your ideas yet? Is there yet another unlock you have not yet entertained?

Finally, I have found it helpful to establish a personal ceiling to your own rate of change. By naming it, writing it down, you free yourself from the unstated expectation that you are failing yourself. This depressurizes a lot of would be expectations you place on yourself. For me personally, I have a stated growth rate range of 40-60% CAGR. So, 60% CAGR is my ceiling. Faster than that, I better have a very freaking small team of rapidly changing people with me almost 24/7. And, frankly, I’m done with that launch-mode. We are entering scale mode now and the unlock here is changing POV, getting help, and documenting processes.