Tension by Navina Anand

Whenever I tell people I don’t like pressure, some of them respond “ Oh I work best under pressure”. So, it got me thinking . What is the difference between tension and pressure? Is it just semantics? I envisioned it this way. Imagine a finely strung musical instrument. If it is held at the perfect tension between two points, it is capable of producing a beautiful sound. And you can manipulate it to deliver the greatest results of a fantastic piece of music. I was going to say musical melody and then remembered my son playing death metal on his guitar. So, let us just restrict it to a piece of music that sounds fantastic to you. To each his own.

So yes, most of us work best when we have a deadline, a deliverable or a goal to achieve. But what about pressure? The feeling of being weighed down. Does that have a positive impact on people as well? Personally, I work great under tension, but not under pressure. From a musical instrument point of view, I imagine pressure would be like  bearing down on those strings. Now what good does that achieve ?

While for a period of time, I imagined this inability to cope with pressure as a flaw, now I see it as unnecessary. There are enough situations that one can put oneself into, in life, where one can produce good music depending on the kind of musical instrument you are. If you are a percussion instrument (good at making noise LOL) find a PR Job. Jokes aside, I meant to say that somewhere in our journey of working and discovering ourselves we need to figure out the situations in which we produce music and situations in which we snap like pressured strings. When people are talking about stress leading to burn out, health issues and mental issues or even death, isn’t  it just about pressured strings that had snapped?

So somewhere along the spectrum of having ‘enough’ , a lot of people have started evaluating whether they are producing music in their lives. That is typically the time when career changes or even retirement happens for a few. When they have taken stock of their lives and have had enough of the pressure. Time to make some music. People quit and start focusing on their hobbies, take up a brand new hobby or take up a cause that provides more satisfaction than creating shareholder value.

Of course, we all need tension. Without that we would just be a pair of loose strings that are of no value to anyone. An endless vacation is only ‘fun’ inside our heads. So, it is important for us to choose the environment that holds us in tension to deliver our best work but not pressure that would lead to a heart attack. So, in your life, are you under tension ? or Pressure? Producing good music? Or just creaking out of tune ?

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