Anna had a tough year. Last year, she caught COVID-19 and had to quarantine for days, missing a friend’s party. She also had trouble learning virtually and made her worst grade in math class ever. What’s more, she was bullied by someone on Instagram unfairly.

When I asked Anna how she was doing, she told me she was stressed out. She told me she wished her parents and teachers would take some of the stress off of her. She felt like life had been unfair and the pressure she felt each week was making things worse. It makes sense until you see the research.

The Benefit of Pressure

All of us can let stress get us down. But there is a difference between stress and pressure. Author Dane Jensen says that stress can be harmful, but pressure is not part of the problem. It’s actually the solution.

We’ve all heard the analogy of a coal mine. Coal is one of man’s earliest sources of energy. A lump of coal can be extracted and burned to generate heat, or its carbon can be transformed into a diamond with the right amount of pressure. What’s the difference? What that coal does with the pressure. This is true for us as well.

Pressure will either lead to stress or success. The secret to succeeding involves two decisions on our part. If we choose well, we will actually benefit from pressure and see it create a diamond. The two secrets?
– What you see.
– What you do.

What Do You See?

Pressure can feel like a push or a shove. It doesn’t feel good to be shoved in a crowd. But what if we realized we can be pushed forward not just pushed down? Imagine you’re in line at an amusement park and someone bumped into you and pushed you down. A push feels negative, but what if when you got back up, you realized you were pushed closer to the front of the line? You’re in a better place.

When life kicks you, let it kick you forward. Focus on the outcome, not the input. — Tim Elmore

The interruption of the pandemic can be an introduction to new opportunities. It all depends on how we perceive a situation. Is it a push forward or a push downward?

What Will You Do?

While they may feel the same, stress and pressure are not the same. An example of stress is yelling at the TV when your favorite team is playing. No matter what you do, it doesn’t help.

Pressure is when you’re playing in that game. Your performance makes a difference in the result. It’s all about your ability and responsibility. The pressure actually brings out the best in us because results are within our influence. We need the right amount to perform at our best. It all depends on the power we believe we possess to do something about the situation.

Getting the Most Out of Pressure

Louis Braille was a kid who grew up in France back in the nineteenth century. When he was three, he was playing in his dad’s workshop and accidentally poked his eye out with an awl, which is a sharp cobbler’s tool. The eye became infected, and Louis soon went blind in both eyes. He later went to a school for the blind but found its system for reading difficult to use.

At fifteen, Louis invented a new reading system for people who couldn’t see. It is named after him, and blind people still use it today. Do you know the most interesting part of the story? Louis actually used an awl, the very tool that blinded him, to create his new reading system. You might say he used the pressure he experienced to do something positive.

Remember most of us need pressure to perform at our best. Our job is to ensure the pressure pushes us in the right direction. There’s a diamond inside of all of us.

The Diamond Secret is inspired by one of the new Habitudes® images. Find them at:

Check out Generation Z: Unfiltered, a practical handbook for understanding Gen Z, written by Tim Elmore and Andrew McPeak.


Tim Elmore

Tim is an international speaker, founder and president of Growing Leaders, an organization equipping today's young people to become the leaders of tomorrow.

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