Have you ever known someone who fell apart at the slightest encounter with adversity? They simply crumbled under the pressure. I've seen it countless times and often from the most unexpected people.
I've witnessed c-level executives break under the pressure of an upcoming board meeting where their contract was under review and I've seen some of our nation's toughest war fighters burst into tears over missing the birth of their child.
Sometimes the thing that overwhelms us is an isolated event that seems insurmountable, but most of the time it's a cumulative effect of small to medium pressures that build together to wreak havoc on our ability to function at our best.
We can't control the things that come our way. We can't control the economy (as individuals) anymore than we can control cancer. What we can control is the way we deal with these things when they make an appearance in our lives.
"Everything negative - pressure, challenges - is all an opportunity for me to rise."
"Pressure is when you play for five dollars a hole with only two in your pocket."
In local news here in Central Texas I was impressed to learn that one of our high schools proudly graduated two very special young men- Austin and Dallas Jordan. Twin brothers born just minutes apart walked across the stage in cap and gown this past week and delivered speeches as the Salutatorian and Valedictorian of their graduating class.
If graduating at the top of their class while taking a full load of Advanced Placement and Honors courses and successfully being admitted early to Cornell University wasn't an impressive enough accomplishment for these two brothers, the real testimony to their ability to handle pressure is that they accomplished all of these things while supporting their mother in her struggle to beat cancer.
For most high school kids I know, that alone would have been enough to derail their hard work. Yet for the Jordan twins, it drove them to be even more dedicated. Their mother attended Cornell in the early 1970's and has been a teacher her entire life since.
She instilled a sense of duty and dedication in her children that has served them well. Despite her ongoing fight with abdominal cancer, she has encouraged her sons to keep working for their goals. And even though they are worried about leaving Central Texas this fall, both Austin and Dallas have said that they will go to Cornell determined to keep up their grades and make their mother proud.
It's the real world accounts like this that affirm my belief that human beings are capable of anything they commit their minds and hearts to.
While some rocks crush to powder under great pressure, others are refined to diamonds. Essentially those diamonds are different because of their makeup and their exposure to the extreme pressure that allows the right reactions to take place.
I believe that we are much the same. We rarely know what we are made of and what we are capable of accomplishing until we are faced with adversity. The greatest strides we'll ever make in becoming a better version of ourselves will always take place under pressure. Isn't it time we stopped worrying about avoiding the pressures in our life and realize that they can have a positive impact?
Have a wonderful week- pressures and all!