Relish the Pressure and the 2nd Law of Thermodynamics: Part 1 of 2

by Edward Henkler on January 7, 2014

The 2nd law of thermodynamics states that systems tend towards chaos or disorder, over time.  A simple example occurs when a tree falls in a forest (whether or not someone hears it).  It’s a given that it will eventually rot and no one would suggest that the tree will ever return to its previous state.  In “The ABC’s of Building a Business Team That Wins”, Blair Singer tells the story of a Nobel Prize-winning chemist, Ilya Prigogine.  Ilya demonstrated that under pressure with the right circumstances, systems can become stronger, better able to resist future pressure.  Staying with the tree analogy, as the remnants of the tree sink into the earth, they become exposed to progressively more pressure. Over hundreds of thousands of years, the remnants may turn into coal and eventually into diamonds.

The ABC's of Building a Business Team That Wins

Relish the Pressure!

This same process can happen with teams.  While some fail with increasing pressure, the best teams exit a period of stress and pressure far stronger than at the outset.  These gains tend to be long lasting so we should relish pressure when it arises.  Blair suggests that a key element in surviving a stressful period is to have a code of honor in place beforehand.  The code is a simple set of rules which represent the core beliefs of the team and provide guidance in times of stress and uncertainty.  There is a tendency to default to personal survival in times of crisis (everyone for themselves).  The code provides an alternative and reminds individuals that the team must be maintained.

Blair’s three keys for achieving greatness in any team endeavor are:

  • Pressure builds great teams in all arenas.  Embrace it and don’t run from it.
  • Find constructive ways to release stored emotion so that the evolutionary process can proceed – exercise, sports, discussion, whatever works
  • Use the code to hold the team together under pressure.  More than ever, if you stick by it in the heat, you will emerge more powerful, with better results and with a sense of incredible pride and accomplishment.

While you don’t want constant pressure, when moments arise, relish the pressure and become stronger!

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