What Billy Joel didn’t know when he wrote “Pressure.”

If you know the Billy Joel tune “Pressure,” then those familiar keyboard strains are probably ricocheting through your brain right now.  (Da-dee-da, da-dee-da, da-da-da-da-da-dee-da . . . )

It’s a great song.

But the lyrics suck.

Ok, ok, they don’t suck.  I just, well, don’t think they aptly describe what pressure is and what it does.

Everyone, including Mr. Piano Man, thinks pressure is a bad thing.  It’s something “pressing” on you, squeezing you . . . maybe until you pop.

But that’s not how I think of it at all.

I’m a big believer that without pressure, you can’t perform at your peak.

You need that deadline.  You need to know that 2,000 people are going to be watching your show.  You need to know that critics are going to chime in.  That kind of pressure kicks achievers in the ass and turns them into super-achievers.

So don’t be afraid of a little pressure.  Embrace it.  Enjoy it.  Let it push you to the next level of whatever it is you are doing . . . writing plays, producing musicals, raising kids.

We all face pressure every day.  It’s what we do with it that defines our future.

So you have a choice . . . you can think of pressure as something overwhelming that prevents you from moving forward.

Or you can remember that pressure is what turns carbon into a diamond.

(And if you don’t know Billy’s “Pressure,” click here to listen to it.  If you do know it, click here to listen anyway so you can get the da-dee-das out of your head.)


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  • David Merrick Jr says:

    “I’m a big believer that without pressure, you can’t perform at your peak.”

    Or perhaps what really separates the great from the maybes is they always perform at their peak,and don’t NEED the pressure.

  • Jenni Weston says:

    Agreed! I always surprise myself by doing my best work under the most extreme stress & pressure.

  • As debaters say, “Define your terms.” There’s pressure and there’s pressure.
    If you are trying to live up to your own standards, that’s one kind of pressure.
    If you’re trying to live up to the expectations of someone who has the right to expect
    a special effort, that’s another. But then there is that downward pressure, from people
    who are willing you to fail. (Don’t ask why. There are so many reasons.) Then you
    have to decide how to place yourself so that the downward pressure can not only conquer the pressure
    but can be used to give you a lift. One of my favorite mantras: “LIving well is the best revenge.”
    Expanded to: “Performing well is the best revenge; refusing to be beaten down by
    negative elements, the best revenge.”

  • Carl White says:

    I think someone was under pressure to knock out a blog entry.

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