Gentle Pressure

If you want something to improve, you’ll need pressure. In physics, pressure is expressed as “Force per unit area”: P=F/A. Pressure is usually a continuous, ongoing amount of force. The word “pressure” is a long-term, intense effort.


  • “I have high blood pressure.”
  • “Stop pressuring me.”
  • “She was pressuring him to quit.”
  • “The daily pressure of his job was starting to wear on him.”
  • "You should apply pressure to the wound to stop the bleeding.”


How does pressure apply to change? When you intend to lead change, you must commit to act (by applying force) over a longer period. It’s this commitment to action that creates the difference.


The best type of gentle pressure is created by the presence of metrics. If you are serious about improvement, you must attach some numbers to the effort to ensure your results. Creating pressure is required to generate change. This is why the education system creates standards for retention and performance. A grade of 93 to 100 percent is an A; 85 to 92 is a B; and so on until you reach 65, the lowest score you can receive and still pass a course. These metrics create pressure. 


If you want to be accepted at Harvard University, you’ll need an SAT score of at least 1460 (among many other measurable criteria). When a Harvard-bound student takes the SAT, that number creates the pressure to perform during the test. 


Pressure is expressed and measured in many ways. There’s water pressure, air pressure, atmospheric pressure, surface pressure, etc. In all cases, these pressures are expressed as a unit of force. In other words, we can ask and answer: how much force is being applied? 

  • We measure a tire’s air pressure in pounds.
  • Blood pressure measures how much pressure is exerted by blood while flowing through the blood vessels. 


Now let me ask you, as you read this:

  1. What are you trying to change that has thus far been unsuccessful?
  2. What metrics have you applied to the process?
  3. Where’s the pressure?
  4. What do you think is the next step?


Change improvement requires pressure. Pressure is best generated by the measurement of a metric. Reconsider any area that has stubbornly refused growth and re-examine your use of metrics. This could be the beginning of that growth you’ve been looking for!


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