Pressure to succeed or comfort zone? What does it take?

Posted: September 28, 2007 in Uncategorized

In the last couple of days, I picked up a common thought across three completely unrelated media events.

Event 1:
In the first instance, I saw on TV, an interview with Anupam Kher. He was talking about his very first movie which was a big success, and where his work was appreciated, “Saaransh”. He was referring to the scene in the film where he goes to claim the ashes of his dead son, and breaks down in front of the officer. He says that the scene had multiple takes and each time, he managed to cry out very well, and with a lot of emotion. The scene was one of the key scenes of the movie. Anupam confessed on this interview that while doing this scene, he was not thinking much about the character, or the character’s son who had died, etc. Somehow he was thinking that if this film does not work, he would have to head back to Shimla, from Mumbai. And that thought was making him cry and in turn, bringing out the best in him!!

Event 2:
Then I read an interview of Indian captain M S Dhoni, where he was also describing his entry into the Indian team. He said that after an India A tour where he was a member, he started to get a feeling that he will at least get one chance to play for the India team. At least one chance! And he did get that one chance when he was selected for three matches. And somehow he did not click in any of them. He hoped against hope that he will get one more chance. And which he got in a while. Now he was clear that if he did not make it, he will be lost in the oblivion of Indian domestic cricket. This was it – his last chance to show that he is worthy of a place in the Indian team. Then, it was that thought of being written off, and the pressure that it caused, that made him work very hard in that outing, and he managed to hit a ton. Staring at the possibility of having to go back to his old life made him raise his level and fight it out, and succeed!

Event 3:
Today morning’s paper carried an interview of Ms. Indra Nooyi, the Pepsi CEO, and she said that she owed her success in great measure to the fact that she did not have a safety net. That should she fail, she’d have to take the next boat home, and that thought made her work harder and achieve the success that she ultimately did.

There is an interesting pattern across these three otherwise unrelated messages. That the fear of failure, and the relegation back to the not-very-desirable life made the persons work harder towards their goal.

Interestingly, I carried a different thought most of my life. Somehow on account of various factors, pretty much right through my education and my working life, I always had a perception of having a ‘safety net’. When friends were working hard during exams, for it was a make or break in terms of career prospects for many, mentally I used to feel that I always had the family business to go to, and I was less stressed. That I did not do too badly over time, made me feel that perhaps the lack of pressure was allowing me to deliver my best?

But now I think again. Could more stress have driven me to even greater levels?? Do I give my kids the feeling that they have a safety net, or do I tell them that they better make it, or else…?!

  1. shibashish nandi says:

    Quite intriguing , when and how to draw the line between positive and negative stress !!! Management gurus have been professing the harmful effest of stress , but the real question is how to find the break even point !!! Also we cant have a univarsal law as these things are subjective in nature. Hmmmmmmm…..

  2. Abhinav says:

    Got here through LinkedIn. Didn’t know VJTI had a film club once upon a time. Sadly now it doesn’t.

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