“Proper pressure comes from within, not from others”

james shone

By James Shone

It was listening to a podcast last week that I heard this quote and it really struck me since so often we hear pressure being talked about in the context of young people. The quote comes from one of my personal heroes – the legend that is Jack Nicklaus (the winner of 18 major golf tournaments). In the world of education today we often bemoan pressure. It is often seen as a good reason to avoid those schools where the pressure to perform is at the forefront of what’s on offer. However, if we are going to move forward in life we need to be energized by a pressure to achieve that comes from within ourselves. So the big question that educators and parents must ask is ‘how do we light that fire in our young people to create just enough internal pressure to help them succeed?’
I’m reminded of my late father, again a great golfer, and how he used to return from work and not allow himself to have supper until he had holed 30 eight-foot putts in a row. If he missed one he would have to start again. He would bemoan my childhood and how easy I was on myself. Is ‘pressure from within’ innate or can we develop this? I think this is a key question.
The determination of Jack Nicklaus and the pressure he put on himself clearly had a huge impact on his success. However, extraneous pressures can so often be a real hazard and problem for young people. So as always there’s a careful balance at play here. We want to create just enough internal pressure but not so much that it causes damage to mental health…