Pressure: It’s How You Handle It That Counts
By Moe Townes
PlannedMan

For David Bowie and Freddie Mercury, it was wonderful. But for many of us, 'under pressure' describes a miserable way of life.

Pressure: It’s How You Handle It That Counts
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Highlights


Churchill told a shaken country standing alone against Hitler they would never surrender. The firemen on 9/11 rushed up 111 flights of stairs

Pressure is part of being human. But famous or not, the best of us rise to the occasion

My flight from LaGuardia to Charlotte was cancelled. There was bad weather en route, and the pilot didn’t think he was up to it.

My by-pass surgery was postponed. The surgeon had done the operation a hundred times before, but he was over-scheduled today.

My lawyer told me he couldn’t go to court to defend me. There’d be jurors, spectators, press, other attorneys. He felt too much pressure.

The new guy from Wharton at GoldmanSachs told his boss he couldn’t be able to get the report done by morning. His girlfriend’s cat died, and she needed him a few more days.

Fortunately, this has never been the way those where pressure is a part of the job have behaved. They haven’t walked away at the big moments. They’ve stepped up and into the pressure. Sometimes heroically.

Churchill told a shaken country standing alone against Hitler they would never surrender. The fire battalions pulled up at the WTC on 9/11 and started climbing the 111 flights of stairs. Learning his coach had a brain tumor, Pete Sampras broke down on court, then won his five-set quarter-final. James Lovell piloted a broken, carbon-dioxide filled Apollo 13 back to earth. Alexei Navalny, still weak from poisoning, flew back to Russia to continue putting pressure on Putin. Chinese whistleblowers revealed the Uighar concentration camps to the world and then disappeared.

None of these people were gods. Pressure is part of being human. But famous or not, the best of us rise to the occasion when the going gets tough.

The stories in the news — and in the history books — used to be all about those who overcame challenges, who felt the pressure and dealt with it.  Even if we didn’t realize it, they served as models for the rest of us to do the same in the privacy of our own lives — to be our best when it most counted.

What happened?  Why, now, do we make excuses for even the most gifted individuals who fold under pressure? What kind of distorted moment are we living through where anything and everything is excusable based on some Dr. Phil-esque diagnosis of a mental health issue?

And what will it mean for us as a people going forward as more and more we embrace such a mentality?

Taking off from LaGuardia for Charlotte, the plane suffered a bird strike, completely shutting down the plane’s engines. “My aircraft,” Sully Sullenberger told his co-pilot, and safely landed his stricken jet on the Hudson, saving all 155 on board.

Now that’s rising to the occasion.

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