It is believed that Ernest Hemingway wrote that “courage [or guts] is grace under pressure.” What an intriguing way of putting it!
There are days in a practice, or any business for that matter, where the owner or the staff are under a great deal of pressure. This may be from too tight scheduling, financial inadequacies, lack of a full complement of staff due to illness, being faced with a truly obnoxious client, and so on. Whatever it is, the pressure has built up.
The first reaction can often be to get irritable and sometimes short with those around you. You may “blow a fuse”, be snarky, or take it out on others. And then there are others who will roll over and give up under pressure. That would be a lack of courage or guts.
How can we get some of this “grace under pressure”?
First of all, the saying means you are not falling apart or being hysterical. You are nervous or irritated or flustered, but you are acting gracefully and holding your composure. The definition of grace is: “1. elegance or beauty of form, manner, motion, or action. 2. a pleasing or attractive quality or endowment. 3. mercy; clemency; pardon. 4. moral strength.” Pressure is: “the stress or urgency of matters demanding attention.”
The preliminary step would be to recognize that you ARE feeling pressure or stress. The next step is deciding to apply “grace under pressure” instead of blowing up or any other negative reaction. Work out how you could handle the matter with grace and kindness.
For instance, your receptionist showed up a half hour late for work and this left you to deal with the patients on your own as well as treating them and you are feeling quite time pressured. When she finally shows up at work, you COULD just get angry and blow up at her. OR, you could show “mercy, clemency and pardon” (definition 3 above for grace). You could say, “Oh thank goodness you’re here. This is what I have done so far; just carry on and we’ll discuss what happened later on today.” If you blew your top instead, it would look bad on you with the patient or client who overhears it, upset your staff member for the rest of the day, and you will feel guilty that you mishandled the situation (if you are a good person).
If it is on-going stress you are experiencing, taking it out on others around you would not be graceful / elegant / pleasing. The best bet is to find an outside person who can help you with the situation. An accountant (for money matters) or a consultant (for management problems) or even your minister, priest, spiritual leader, and so on. Sometimes you just need someone to talk to in order to relieve the pressure building up.
Running away from handling situations rarely works as YOU know that you are doing that and it follows you into the future. Guts and courage require you to confront the situation and actually work out and implement a handling for the source of the pressure.
If everyone showed grace under pressure, this planet would be an easier place to work and live in.