Inverted U

Performing under pressure has become a much needed skill. A skill that some of us have naturally and others need to learn.

Some of us seem to thrive under pressure. We like the adrenaline rush, the challenge of thinking on our feet and delegating the detail. Only to find ourselves crashing against a wall. Not the wall of the project that creates the pressure – which we are handling. The walls we often crash against are the personal, family, relationship walls.

Sound familiar?

There are a few theories that try to explain this interaction between performance and pressure.

The most common one is the Inverted-U Hypothesis. This theory states that performance increases as pressure or the challenge of a situation increases, up to a point. After that specific point, performance decrease as pressure increase. We fade away.

Another theory, the Catastrophic Theory, is similar to the Inverted –U Hypothesis; it only differs in that it states that some people’s performance does not decline gradually but catastrophically falls. They crash and burn.

A third theory that I think is relevant is the optimal zone theory. This simply states that each individual has a zone in which he/she functions optimally. Why these theories?

Simply to share a tool with which you can enhance your performance. Knowing yourself and the level of pressure under which you can function optimally is one of the keys to achieving flow. Being aware of warning signs will help to managing the pressure.

A myth of the self help, motivational world, is that our potential is unlimited. Because our ego wants to feel all-powerful, it easily grabs on to this myth and pushes us past our zone. Lettings us crash and burn or fade away.

The truth is, our potential is limited, but no one has ever truly reached that limit. It is far beyond the quasi-humble belief systems and mind maps we create to keep us in mediocrity. By acknowledging this and by accepting that we actually develop and grow our potential by creating boundaries for our self, we will be able function in flow much easier. Then we allow pressure to extract the gold in us. Then we use pressure as a servant to our own happiness.

Under pressure


Rebelling against the truth

The truth is greater than our experience of it. This insight is essential in our journey to know our truth.

In the proses of seeking truth we naturally draw boundaries around the insights we perceive of our experiences of truth. Through this boundaries we capture those liberating experiences that set us free. These boundaries are normal and natural. They are valuable mind maps  we form to make sense of our world.

What tends to happen is the reluctance to test these boundaries once they have formed. Mostly because perceptions of the truth are inherited. Our parents, our culture and institutions in our society hand us these ready made boundaries around segments  of the truth.

This acceptable up to a point. What usually happens is, we rebel against these hand me downs. Whether it happens in adolescence or in a mid life crisis, we come to a point were we question our given reality.

This rebellion is actually healthy, but is mostly seen as unacceptable. Either by society or by our own inner ethical stance. In my mind this is perceived as unacceptable because we tend to jump to the conclusion that the rebellion is against the sacred truth.

In fact – What is seen as rebelling against the truth, is actually rebelling against the boundary that was set around that piece of the truth that we needed to come this far. I would like to suggest that we see the rebellion as a sign that we have grown past the usefulness of this mind map of the truth. That the truth actually wants to introduce more of itself to us and that it is the truth that initiates this rebellion.

Rebelling against the boundary is our spirit becoming uncomfortable with the space that was allowed by the boundary.

Like a child that has out grown her shoes and need her mother to buy her a new pair. So rather than forcing the spirit into a shoe that is to small for it, go shopping for a new pair.

Embrace the rebellion. Use it to explore the truth in all its beautiful nuances. See, taste and smell every flavor and then choose your new boundary.

Just remember that the truth is greater than our experience of it, so do not set those boundaries to strong. You will be needing a new pair of shoes shortly.

In Rebellion