When Coping Isn’t Enough

When Coping Isn’t Enough

I delivered a keynote lecture a couple of weeks ago to 80 students at Cranfield University who are coming to the conclusion of their MSc in Strategic Marketing degree. My preparation for the lecture turned out to be much more thought-provoking than I had anticipated. As I began to think about the challenges that face what was predominantly a mid-to-late 20s audience as they venture out into the business world, it dawned on me just how daunting some of them will find it.

What a time to move into what will for many of them be their first ‘proper’ jobs? Filled with inevitable anticipation, excitement and high aspirations, these young protégés will soon encounter the realities of a commercial world that not even the most seasoned among us have known before.

My lecture was entitled ‘Thriving on Pressure’ and I began by outlining the sorts of pressures they can expect in the ‘new normal’ workplace. I then went on to highlight how ‘coping with’ and ‘thriving on’ pressure are not the same and the audience seemed particularly intrigued by this distinction.

Coping with pressure means that you will get by but the constant struggle to cope will probably be at some expense to your energy and focus. Thriving on pressure means that you actually generate extra energy because you are stimulated by what many people refer to as a ‘buzz’. This does not come naturally to everyone but the good news is that you can develop a mindset that will enable you to thrive.

This is not the place to describe specific techniques and skills, so I’ll stick to top-line – it’s all about the way you think about the pressure! If you view pressure as an unwanted inconvenience that you have to cope with then that’s what you’ll do. On the other hand, if you think about the pressure as being there to help and energise you then it can. Simple!

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