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Stay Cool

When we long for life without difficulties, remind us that oaks grow strong in contrary winds and diamonds are made under pressure.

Peter Marshall


We are working at a time of hyper-competitiveness and an unprecedented pace of change, and feelings of stress may be at their highest levels ever.  According to The American Institute of Stress:

  • 80% of workers feel stress on the job
  • 25% have felt like screaming or shouting because of job stress
  • 14% of respondents had felt like striking a coworker in the past year but didn’t
  • 9% are aware of an assault or violent act in their workplace

Why Stay Cool

Knowing how to stay calm under pressure is vital for the following reasons:

More optimism: Having strategies to help you stay positive during challenges can help you become a more optimistic person.  After a while, you may develop a good habit of seeing the positive side of things rather than instantly focusing on potential challenges or barriers to your success.

Better focus: When you learn how to manage your emotions when you’re feeling stressed, you can focus more on your work rather than your anxious thoughts.  This allows you to be more productive.

Relaxed presence: Staying calm under pressure shows that you can handle any challenges that come your way.  People may notice your calm demeanor, showing you are ready to take on new challenges and responsibilities.

How to Stay Cool

Rather than spending your precious time stressing about things, there are strategies that can help you stay focused and productive.  Follow these steps to keep calm under pressure:

  1. Practice healthy habits – Living a healthy lifestyle can help you calm your stress levels and stay focused throughout the workday. You may have additional energy to take on more challenging tasks by showing up to work well-rested.  Likewise, eating healthy meals throughout the day gives your body the stamina needed to complete your tasks.  Exercise can also help you beat stress since it helps your body release endorphins that promote positive feelings.
  2. Organize your priorities – At the start of each workday, assess your to-do list, adjusting your tasks based on which ones have the highest priority.
  3. Focus on the present – Rather than trying to multitask, direct your attention to one task or project at a time. Resist the urge to worry about the next thing on your to-do list and focus on what you are doing now.
  4. View Stress as a spotlight on values – We feel stress when something we care about is threatened. Knowing this, highly successful people realize they are stressed and pause to ask: what is my body telling me?  What is it that I care about that I think is threatened?  Your stress is like a spotlight on something you need to protect.
  5. Reflect on the positives – When you’re under pressure, focusing on the positives can help you feel better about meeting your obligations. By thinking of challenges as opportunities to grow, you can convince yourself that these are positive situations for your career.

The Bible

There are many more tools to employ to stay calm under pressure.

The Bible has many lessons for staying cool under pressure.  One is when Paul was shipwrecked on his way to Rome as a terrible storm hits them when they pass near the island of Crete.  The wind blows so hard the men can’t steer the boat.  And they can’t see the sun during the day or the stars at night.  So finally, after many days, those on board give up all hope of being saved.

Acts 27:22-24 reads,

Yet now I urge you to keep up your courage, for there will be no loss of life among you, but only of the ship.  “For this very night an angel of the God to whom I belong and whom I serve stood before me, saying, ‘Do not be afraid, Paul; you must stand before Caesar;”

With Paul’s calm leadership, all the ship’s passengers are safely saved on the island of Malta.

Paul kept his eyes on the end goal, did not panic like the others on the ship, and had faith that what he knew to be true was true.

Business leaders could learn much from this story of Paul.  It is a success story of staying calm amid panic. 

And business success is found in difficult circumstances where leaders can thrive given the right mindset.  That mindset comes from God.