This week, I want to talk about a quote I heard during a Christmas movie. A little girl in a Christmas pageant was about to play “We wish you a Merry Christmas” on piano and was having problems, but actress Holly Robinson Peete helped her by showing her how to get her ensemble ready. Once she finished, she talked about the pressure she felt when she had her first piano solo. Peete reminded the girl of what her grandmother told her: “Pressure makes diamonds.”
For me, that quote was a spiritual moment. Immediately, I knew it would be one of my Religion Corner columns. This is a multi-layered quote, which has the obvious literal meaning — diamonds are formed when exposed to extremely high pressure — but also has a few figurative meanings.
When’s the last time you entered a high-pressure environment head-on? When have you recognized the pressure and said you’re going to give it your best shot and see how the chips fall?
For me, it was adding Facebook Live to my radio show; it was the appointment by then-D.C. Council member Charlene Drew Jarvis to serve as executive director of the annual Georgia Avenue Day; it was being appointed to serve as project director of the African American Civil War Memorial; it was when I first started my radio show and writing this column. My list can go on and on.
If you haven’t faced pressure recently or at all in the past few years, I’m convinced you’re doing life wrong and stunting your growth.
The reason you should always step into pressure is it’ll force you to make a diamond or you’ll learn valuable lessons — that’ll eventually make a diamond. Pressure makes diamonds. Whether it comes from coal or a scientist in a lab, the only way to make a diamond is through highly concentrated pressure. I’m talking an insane amount of pressure — science says 230,000 to 1.3 million times atmospheric pressure.
We should be thankful for this pressure, because without it, there are no beautiful, majestic diamonds for people all around the world to appreciate. Pressure creates the beauty. Otherwise we only have coal and boring rocks to look at.
And the same principle applies to your life. With no pressure, you’re not forced to grow. And when you’re not forced to grow, you’re not going to find any diamonds in your life.
I know how it feels to work under pressure. I remember telling everyone I knew and on social media that by September 2005, I’d be a published author. The pressure kept rising as this date creeped up, but it also forced me to raise my game by focusing and working harder.
The end result is I published “The Sharecroppers Daughter,” and though it wasn’t a bestseller, boxes of books were sold around the world. It helped some people, but I plan to do a rewrite.
How did I respond to this pressure of being a small-business owner? Kept working to provide value to my audience and get creative to find new sources of income. At the end of that first year, this pressure led me to a $100,000 contract, my highest ever and another diamond moment in my life.
Pressure and how I responded to it created diamonds in my life, and so I’ll always be grateful. You don’t have to be the most talented person out there. Just look for ways to embrace pressure and work hard in the middle of it. Over time, you’ll have the opportunity to turn your coal into a diamond. That’s all you need.
And even if you fail under pressure, as long as you stuck with it and gave your best effort, there’s still great hope. Because pressure also makes lessons. Sometimes you can give it your all, face the pressure head-on, and lose.
You don’t get these lessons and diamonds if you run away from pressure to stay at a comfortable job or never start the company you’ve always dreamed about.
What I’m saying is, it’s the pressure that provides hard lessons and experience that propel you to get diamonds in the future.
Stepping into pressure and embracing it is a win-win. The only time you lose is if you quit or walk away from pressure. That’s the opposite of taking your success.
Lyndia Grant is a speaker/writer living in the D.C. area. Her radio show, “Think on These Things,” airs Fridays at 6 p.m. on 1340 AM (WYCB), a Radio One station. To reach Grant, visit her website, www.lyndiagrant.com, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 240-602-6295. Follow her on Twitter @LyndiaGrant and on Facebook.