Challenge & Threat
Stress and pressure can either get the better of you, or propel you to accomplish things that would not be possible in the absence of stress and pressure. For example, the pressure of an interview may motivate you to prepare fully and stay focussed on the task at hand. Or it could lead to avoiding preparation through worry and procrastination. The fact is, some people thrive under pressure while others wilt. Decades of research has arrived at the conclusion that there are two ways we can approach pressure situations. You can either approach events as a challenge, or as a threat. You see, stress is not inherently good or bad. It all depends on how you perceived that stress. Whether you approach pressure as a challenge or a threat has huge implications for your emotions, your behaviours, your performance, and your health.
Evidence is growing every year for the benefits of approaching pressure as a challenge. Those able to approach stressful situations as a challenge make better (faster and more accurate) decisions, can control their emotions, are able to focus on the right things for their performance, and ultimately fulfil their potential in their performances. In addition, challenge is associated with a constellation of psychophysiological reactions to stress that are efficient and helpful for performance and health.
While evidence continues to grow for the benefits of approaching pressure as a challenge, growing evidence also illuminates how harmful threat can be. Those who approach stressful situations as a threat make poorer (slower and less accurate) decisions, cannot control their emotions, are unable to focus on the right things for their performance, and ultimately do not fulfil their potential in their performances. Further, threat is associated with a psychophysiological reactions to stress that are inefficient and harmful for performance and health.
Therefore, techniques, strategies, and tactics that promote challenge are highly valuable. The key to fulfilling your potential under pressure, which we all face as part of any meaningful pursuit, is to see pressure as a challenge, not a threat. How can we do this? …Tip The Balance.
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