Pressure is the amount of force acting per unit area. Mathematically, it is expressed as P = F / A.
Atmospheric pressure is what most people are familiar with in their daily lives. At sea level, the average atmosphere air pressure is approximately 101 Pascals. As altitude increases, the pressure decreases. In space, there is no air to create pressure. When flying in a plane or riding in a car up a long mountain road, I may feel my ears pop as the air pressure decreases.
Scuba divers and submariners are familiar with the increasing level of pressure the deeper one travels underwater. Even when swimming to the bottom of a pool, one may feel a squeezing sensation in their ears.
Achieving equilibrium is necessary to relieve the irritating popping or squeezing sensations. This state is created by balancing one’s internal pressure with the external pressure created by air or water. In some cases, such as when traveling to extreme heights or depths, equilibrium is not possible without mechanical assistance.
Equilibrium is about balance. And it is something that people struggle with daily.
The balancing of the inner and outer forces at work on a body are necessary to stay healthy, build productive relationships, and to continue to grow as a person or organization. Internally, people put pressure on themselves to succeed, make better choices, to achieve significant goals, or simply to survive. Financial, economic, cultural, and physical are typical external forces that affect people and how they live.
However, an interesting thing happens when a leader figures out how to apply just the right amount of pressure on a person. In this case, the leader makes a person go out of a state of equilibrium. This new pressure may be in the form of a deadline, work load, time constraint or some combination of these things.
As a person works to complete a task, they learn to adapt to the new stress. The result is that the person or organization tends to grow as they rise to the occasion.
Staying balanced is a great place to be, but being off-balance for short periods of time can be very productive. When you start to understand how force can be applied to a body, then you can create a powerful impact on a system.
A simple example can be used to illustrate the point: try cutting an apple with the flat side of a knife and then with the sharp edge.
People need to know when to use either the flat side or the sharp edge of that knife to create the impact they need in an organization. The tool will produce very different results depending on what you choose to do.