297: Achievement Without Pressure

19 Minutes Read

If you procrastinate on work...

If you find yourself dreading certain meetings or conversations...

If you experience self-doubt that blocks you from making progress on your dreams...

...you're probably using pressure as a source of fuel for your work. 

The thing is, pressure can be effective at times. Deadlines focus the mind and many people rise to their best when there's an audience present.

But to access your most creative ideas and solutions, you need different sources of fuel. Ones that don't deplete you when you use them.

Listen to this week's podcast and explore:

  • How to create a container for your work that virtually guarantees that inspiration or playfulness will be your fuel instead of pressure
  • Why swapping out "goals" for "lanterns" allows you to shift your inner state away from tension towards one of ease
  • How to set up your day for the best chance of finding a state of flow while working

Magic, wonder, and creativity is always just a breath away. This episode will help you tap into those experiences.


Join the "Achievement Without Pressure" experiment inside the Superabound Life membership here.

If you want a coach to help you operate from flow and inspiration more often, we have openings for new VIP one-to-one clients. Learn more and book a consultation here.

Listen to this week's episode on Apple Podcasts here

Listen to it on Spotify here

Watch the video here

Full Transcript

 Steve Haase  0:01  
Welcome to the Superabound podcast with master coaches, Erin Aquin and Steve Haase, where entrepreneurs and leaders learn coaching tools to help you build a business you love. You are listening to Episode 297 achievement without pressure. We all want to make things happen. That is at the heart of Superabound is helping you create a life and a business that you love. But oftentimes, the fuel that we use for that achievement doesn't feel so good. And so today we dive deep into sources of fuel that feel great. We call it achievement without pressure, because oftentimes people put a ton of pressure on themselves, thinking that's really the best way to get things done. It's not this episode is all about finding those alternative fuel sources. Found from vision, inspiration, love inspiration, I said that twice. Because it's possible, it's possible for that to be the main fuel that you use, for your life for your business to create something that you are so proud of. And that helps you create the legacy that you want. We mentioned our membership program throughout this episode. And I just want to point you in that direction, if you resonate with what we talked about here, we're going to be doing it all month long in the month of July. And you can learn more about the Superabound life membership at besuperabound.com/life. Let's dive in. 

Erin Aquin  1:35  
So the reason we have jet lag is because we just got back from a 10 day pretty epic trip as part retreat, art vacation. Very fun. We think we asked a lot of our children, because we took them on a red eye followed by a five hour train ride, and only like a mild meltdown for any one of us, which was which was great. But we spent some time on the coast of Wales, which is honestly one of the most beautiful places on earth that I have ever seen. It was really special. We got to reconnect with some folks that Steve has known for a long time me less so. And I remember walking, we did this one particular hike, which was probably one of my most favorite days. Unbelievable. Where we got dropped off in these little mini buses that they had on a beach and I spent about an hour rock hunting with my son. Well, Steve and our daughter were kind of like off wandering around and climbing little cliffs. And then we walked from Wait, was that the

Steve Haase  2:59  
beach day? Yeah, it was the Wales coastal path. Yes, we

Erin Aquin  3:03  
walked from that beach. There was another beach day that was like very windy and rainy. And we didn't save her very long. But that beach day, we ended up going up this nice long. Kind of scary. I was like a little I'm not a big heights person and some big drops. But we blocked after a while to this other beach that you had to take all of these stairs down to. And we got to bathe in the healing waters of the Celtic sea which I will never forget was like one of the most fun things very cold.

Steve Haase  3:35  
Very not as cold as we were ready for it like we were waiting for it to be you know, iceberg cold. I was able to swim like swim swim. It wasn't like the kind of shocking cold plunge cold that I've experienced before. Ya

Erin Aquin  3:47  
know, healing is healing, healing rationing. And then we continued on this, like, again, very beautiful, but very steep hike down to this cute little coastal town. We hung out at the pub with like, probably 30 or 40 of the people from the retreat. Excellent.

Steve Haase  4:07  
Well, whiskey. Well, it was I was like, Do you have any Scotch like scotch? You know, we're in Wales, right? We got some Welsh whiskey.

Erin Aquin  4:14  
I drink that stage. And so yes, it doesn't really drink. But I did. It was quite fun. But as we were walking that particular day, I had this sort of insight, even though it was not. It was nothing like any other retreat I've ever been on a word got some very squawky birds in the background. I had this insight that there is different fuel that we can use for achieving amazing things. So even on something like a coastal walk. There's a way Doing that where you could be very concerned with your speed. And you could really like Get your arms pumping and be really stressed out and tense as you're walking. But there's also the chance to do that walk as a bit more of a stroll, with a bit more relaxation, with like taking time to stop and look around, take in the air, take in the sunshine. And it's something where I every so often will kind of do these internal experiments, if you've listened to the podcast for any length of time. You know that one of my experiments a few years ago was figuring out how to work and have the same amount of impact or more impact, but only be actually at my desk for 25 to 30 hours a week. That took a lot of internal work to figure out. Another experiment that I've talked about here on the show before is seeing if I could really have self worth in a way that didn't feel fake or forced. And that actually informed how I run my business and how I live my life.

Steve Haase  6:21  
you enroll. Okay,

Erin Aquin  6:22  
I just want to make sure I thought you had something to say for the road. Okay, good. Good. See you is here, everybody. But the kind of internal experiment that sort of came to me on this walk that we were doing was, I wonder if it's possible to I hesitate to say eliminate pressure, but to still get amazing results in my life and in my work without using pressure as the fuel. So as as magnificent as this trip was. I used to be a tour manager. So I'm very used to like going chopped up time to get to the airport, everybody make sure all the things are packed, I can get very stressed before I travel with other people because I have the I have a history of like people forgetting passports and forgetting instruments. And just I just have a kind of an association with traveling as being somewhat stressful, because my job really depended on everybody and all their things getting where they needed to go and being on time. And that was my life as a tour manager at one point. So it was really interesting to just think about, like, how much more enjoyment? How much more achievement could there be with less pressure.

Steve Haase  7:51  
And one thing really stood out for me, as we were just recounting the story of the walk. It's almost as though The walk itself and the presence of the beach, hold us along. The itinerary set out for us that you know, at the end of it, there will be this coastal town and there'll be some cute pubs there, and we're just going to hang out, like The Walking happened. Almost because of those things like we, I didn't feel as though I was putting forth the effort to complete this walk. And the children also did not like this was a long one. And they were just they were just in it. There was a moment early on. We saw the sign that said Wales coastal path. And my daughter, Audrey, she's eight she looked at me, she says What a stunning name. And I looked at her I'm like you're eight. How do you say things like that? My actual words. Where did you get that from all the books you read? And she looks at me and goes da. After I reprimanded her, I said that was actually really funny. So but I share that because it's almost as though the setting the context in which the effort took place, contained the effort so fully that the walk matched the experience, right? But the walk was simply filling up the experience. And when I think about achievement without pressure, what comes to mind is your vision is something so stunning that the effort simply rises to meet that possibility. It's

Erin Aquin  9:37  
funny you mentioned our daughter because at some point on the walk our son, you weren't with us at this point. We were kind of walking on our own. It was a really long ahead

Steve Haase  9:46  
of me they were walking smoking me

Erin Aquin  9:50  
shares so yeah, that never has happened before. But he was walking up this hill and he said Mommy, this is like your book. This is like the mountain in your book where you're like climbing this mat. which is a story in our book that's kind of weaved throughout. In our book, it's actually a nighttime hike. And it's a little more treacherous than the whale's coastal walk. But it was really funny that he was like having that same association, as was I about the way that I think kind of makes the superabound method, however, sounds silly. But what kind of sets this apart from the way that most people achieve? The way most people achieve is, you pick a goal. And then you get very tense, and you're very one pointed and very focused. And it's an emotional roller coaster, because you're working on it one day, and you're really inspired. And then the next day, you're tired, and everything sucks, and you get rejected and something horrible happens. And you've got to like amp yourself up. It's like this big roller coaster ride where you're constantly filled with like emotional highs and lows, and it's tense, tense, tense, and then you get to this place where you achieve the thing that you were trying to achieve. And it often from for many people, I've shared this before, because this is how I used to work, feels very empty, feels very devoid of celebration and life. And, you know, like, there's an essential spirit that's missing when you achieve it. Because the, the route you took was so tense and awful, and you didn't really allow yourself to be pulled by the lantern or the vision, you really muscled your way through, and you probably threw some bowling balls in your backpack to walk with just to make it harder for the sake of it being hard.

Steve Haase  11:48  
There are no extra points for extra struggle. And yeah, I feel that. For something to be worthwhile, we have to sacrifice, we have to struggle, we got to cut things out, we got to really knuckle down. And that's the pressure that we're talking about with the usual way of achieving things. And I think what's powerful about this topic, achievement without pressure is not so much. Listen to the answers that we have, is more the question, what would it look like in your life, to ease off on the pressure, and yet rise to that achievement? Even more fully?

Erin Aquin  12:30  
Sometimes when I've suggested this to clients, where I will say, Okay, you're using the fuel that you're using to work towards your next lantern is pressure. Is there any other fuel available, sometimes it can actually feel a little bit threatening, because people feel like if I take the pressure away, there will be nothing to hold me accountable, there will be nothing to push me forward. And I get that I actually really, really understand that I've watched so many people tried to do some of the things that I've done like write books I have, I have a friend who has been working on their book for I mean, this is going to be our my fourth book that we're publishing. And they're not even finish the the rough draft of their first book that we've been talking about for a really long time. And that's not a judgment on them. But there's like no pressure, there's no positive pressure for them to finish it, therefore, it's not finished. I don't think though, that that means that pressure is the only fuel. I think if there were, there was a really clear intention, or a really clear lantern to be lit by that person finishing that book. It wouldn't be out it would be out and it would probably be like a best seller all over the world. Because this is a really brilliant person. We all know how to do things under pressure. And so what I'm, I want to be careful about is saying like this isn't like oh, never have pressure ever again. Because sometimes pressure is really helpful. It's just finding other sources of fuel. So that pressure isn't the only one that you're using. Most of us have mastered getting things done at the last minute. Procrastination is a word we all know. And sometimes the pressure of a deadline is the thing that gets you to the end goal. But it doesn't feel good for everyone. I know some people who like work really well in that last minute period of time and they are totally, their nervous systems can handle it and they're good. But if that's the only way you know how to achieve that can just be hard on you

Steve Haase  14:52  
want to talk for a moment about creativity and the state in which the best creativity emerges. If you just reflect on your own experiences of insight of, Whoa, where did that come from? I doubt you'll find very many where you are kind of in the pressure cooker, they tend to happen, you know that all the stories of breakthroughs happening in the shower, when you're just relaxed, and there's nothing going on. But you've been putting in the work and suddenly an idea sparks or in a quiet morning meditation, or on a walk, there's some element of relaxation, maybe even some element of play, I love to ride my bike, there's some element of just the world drops away, you just kind of are in your in the moment. And that sense of freedom of play is a powerful source for the kinds of things that will lead to the biggest achievements. There's definitely room for like the buckle down and get it done. Like if you don't execute, something's never going to cross the finish line. But when you're deciding what it is that you want to take over the finish line, that's often a space for that creativity for for connection with possibility. In fact, when you ask, what are some other fuels besides pressure, the question, what is possible, came to mind. And so the fuel of what's possible for me what's possible in my life, what can I create with people I love? What can I create to impact people, all of those can be fuel for you to play with, right? You don't, you don't know what's going to be your greatest source of fuel. And so I encourage you to play with all of those things with possibility with impact with vision, with relationship. Yeah,

Erin Aquin  16:57  
even if you're highly trained to function well under pressure, because there's plenty, plenty of people who are if you're a leader, you probably know how to get creative when there's no other option and when you're feeling immense pressure. But I want to actually open this up to kind of like a personal experiment. I usually kind of do these things on my own, and then report back when I figure out what happened for me. But for the first time, I actually have decided that I want to open this up to more people in more of a collaborative way. And the place we're going to do that is inside the Superabound life membership, which is our ultra low cost membership. That includes all of the things we love, yoga, meditation, magic. You don't have to be into any of those things you might be into all of those things. We do visionary working sessions, we infuse different ideas from the Superabound method into classes. It's less of us coaching and more of us teaching and in collaboration. And that kind of feels like the perfect space to go on this adventure of having a low pressure, I'm not going to say no pressure, because sometimes we're going to use pressure in our lives totally fine to use, we're not excluding any part of ourselves. But to find out what happens when the primary fuel that we're looking for, for the next month, maybe two months, if you love it is not pressure, we're not going to use pressure as the first option. And I'm going to be sharing the ups and downs of that I'm going to be sharing some of the practices that I will be using to invite other sources of fuel in with a really specific goal of lighting important lanterns. So if you're if you've never heard this podcast before, a lantern really is a goal with soul, a goal that is important to you and not something that's been prescribed to you by someone else or by our culture or by the expectations of your your peers. It is something that is actually very personally meaningful that you have chosen and that is in line with your big vision for your life. So the legacy, let's say that you want to leave behind. So I'm going to find out and and hopefully you'll join me to find out. We're going to be talking a lot about this over the next month inside the membership. How to we achieve the things that are important how do we Light, important lanterns without using pressure as the primary fuel. And Steve was like, so you mean kind of we were talking about this earlier you said. So kinda like, using flow. And I would love for you to explain what you mean by that, because I've heard that before. I think I know what that means. But you already seem to sort of naturally do this in a lot of areas of your life. So maybe you can give us some tips on how we can achieve without pressure and tension and strain.

Steve Haase  20:40  
For sure. Just to follow up, before I do the Superabound life membership is available at besuperabound.com/life as

Erin Aquin  20:54  
a monthly membership, come and go as you please, there is no pressure or hassle. If you just kind of like this experimental, you're not interested in anything else in there, then just come you can join for a month. And leave whenever you whenever you want to just make sure you cancel.

Steve Haase  21:12  
No hard feelings. But we'd

Erin Aquin  21:14  
love to see Oh, you'll love it, though, we hope you'll stay and do yoga and meditate with us and and ask for classes that you want, because I love to co create this with the members in there.

Steve Haase  21:25  
So there's a whole body of work on flow. And it is it's important for doing work in a way that you love it and finding your own playful approach to doing important things. And so, some of the criteria for flow are that you have mastery up to a certain point like like, if we kind of put it on a x and y axis, we have mastery and difficulty. So mastery on one side and difficulty on the other. And if you if the task at hand is high end difficulty and you are low in mastery, that will not result in a flow state that will be frustration because it will feel too hard for you. And if the task at hand is lower in difficulty than you have in mastery, it will be somewhat boring, because you just have a lot more to give than what the moment is asking of you. And finally, the last quadrant there before we get to flow is if it's low difficulty and low mastery, then it's just, there's nothing really to be done, it doesn't need any kind of specialized power to achieve. So there's very little room for engagement there. So flow happens in that sweet spot where the difficulty is high, and your mastery of that area is high. So as we think about achievement without pressure, putting putting something in front of you is selecting a lantern where it requires a lot from you in an area that you love and that you really have invested in something that you feel a level of mastery with. If you are a coach, then that would be you know something around finding your own edge with your coaching, maybe it's creating a workshop creating a new way for people to experience the work that you do. If you are a leader, maybe that that that thing that calls upon your mastery is setting a new objective for the team or creating a new way for your team to upskill. Right. So it's it's finding that place that feels a bit scary, because it's going to ask a lot of what you have to offer. But you also know that it means a lot to you that engaging in that work will require your whole focus your whole intention, your whole body, mind and spirit. Which means your chance of sort of falling into flow will be significant. It's not something that you can turn on like a switch. But when you show up for something in the right conditions, then that flow can occur. My own experience of this was in writing our book. There were several occasions where new ideas were crystallized, new tools sort of emerged from the writing process that never would have been there. And I we not set out to say okay, we're writing a book. That was the, the high difficulty high mastery thing. It's like okay, we've done a lot in this space. We have a lot to give. Let's put it into a book folks. And, and that process of showing up for it day after day putting ourselves in that container that asked a lot from us, but also drew upon everything that we had to give yielded many instances of flow, many instances of creativity, that while not always pleasant to put the whole book together resulted in something that we're both really proud of, and mostly happened without pressure, right? It was there as an act of love. It was there as an act of contribution, service and purpose.

Erin Aquin  25:38  
I love that. I was, it's interesting, because I've never kind of the way you're talking about is like, there's a certain like, being there's no wakefulness, you're awake, you know, you you're awake and attentive. Sometimes I think people talk about flow. And they think it's more like an autopilot. They're like, Oh, I was in a flow state, I, you know, I wasn't really aware of all the things and but the way that you're talking about it, I really love because there's like a quality of attention. That has like, some spirit to it. And that's different than going on the neck, kind of the other extremes, which are not extremes. But the other like, points that I think are sort of close to that, which is like one is autopilot, when you're just doing something you know how to do, like, I'm driving down the street to the same place I always drive to that's not on the right hand of the road, I guess you've had to be very attentive to his driving. On the left side, that was not a flow state ready, buddy? A lot of while we were away. But then there's this other kind of little tipping point on the other side of that, where you're awake, but there's tension, there's pressure. And I think many of us are able to kind of dive right into the pressure fueled wakefulness and drop into the autopilot doing. And it's sort of like flow is like the in between. So you are probably very familiar with both of those pieces that are just a few degrees away from this flow is being awake, being immersed, but not having tension, or pressure be the primary fuel. I definitely relate to what you said, I used to have this a lot when I was teaching yoga. Even though you know, I felt like i i I'm asked when I was a master of teaching yoga, I taught a lot of yoga, I was pretty good at teaching yoga, at least in the style and form that I taught, which I still do in our membership. But there was always a little bit of an edge because I made it a practice a spiritual practice of never pre planning my classes, I would have a playlist and I committed as a spiritual practice to teaching to who showed up, teaching organically to who was in the room, what the energy felt like to me, what my students needed, I was lucky enough to know a lot of my students and know a lot about what's happening in their lives and their bodies. So there was always kind of a sense before teaching of like, I don't know what's going to happen. I know what time we start, I know what time we end, I know there will be shavasana there will be 10 minutes of rest. And I know what songs are on this playlist. But that's all I know. And I know how to teach yoga. But there's almost like a deep trust. We talked about trusts on the podcast last week, but like it's an inner trust of your own mastery and a willingness to accept what's coming in from the universe, whatever that means to you, however, you see it totally great. But I feel like this achieving without pressure is going to rely on our trust of the universe to come in and do its part even as we of course are participating. But there has to be some expectation that magic comes in.

Steve Haase  29:42  
And that's right at the heart of this topic. There was a moment while we were away one of the places we visited was the chalice Well, in Glastonbury and absolutely magical, just several places where we visited were around springs that were bubbling up from the earth, just natural wells that people had been coming to and seeing the sacredness in for hundreds, if not 1000s of years in some cases. And I was sitting on this bench and there was a little angel statue behind me was called the angel bench,

Speaker 1  30:20  
I believe are the angels chair or something Angel seat, Angel seat.

Steve Haase  30:24  
And it was covered by green greenery, there was some kind of a vine something was growing, that that had that created a, an overhang, and it even hung sort of in front of your face. So you were very covered, you felt embraced, you felt the embrace of the angel seat. And I was sitting there meditating. And I thought for a moment, just pay attention. What magic is happening now I was actually thinking about the name of our business name of our book, Superabound, is like where is the superabundance of the universe right now in this moment? And I looked at the greenery that was above me, and I thought about the work that it took from the gardeners to have not just this one seat, but the entire space, as beautiful as it was, and, and how connected my chair right there was to not just this moment, but throughout history, I was just kind of overwhelmed by the connectedness of it all. But it was very location specific, right, the magic wasn't, oh, gardeners, oh, I'm supported in so many ways. It was this vine here was cared for by a person who said, We need a vine over this place with an angel and a concrete stone, like, it was very specific to that moment, the magic that I was present to. And there's magic in your life right now, that is very specific to what has come before. And tuning into what achievement without pressure for you is, is going to look like pulling on those threads of magic amplifying those things that are already at play. And and what friends of ours, Carter Phillips, it might maybe he was he's the one who introduced it to me, he called the adjacent possible, right. So yes, anything is possible. But some things are more closely possible than others. And there's a lot of them. And so achievement without pressure is going to look like not only what are the threads, but what are those threads pointing to that will make possible in your world towards your next lantern.

Erin Aquin  32:42  
So achieving without pressure requires trust requires reflecting on everything that you just said it was very beautiful. And we're gonna see, we're gonna see what happens over this next period of time. I have no doubt it will be very magical, because it's collaborative. Because it's a collaboration between your effort and your highest vision and your future self and your past self and the universe. So I don't know exactly what's going to happen. If you have a sense that learning how to light lanterns in your life without using pressure as the primary fuel. You want to have a pressure less or pressure free experience. Come join us inside the superabound life at superabound.com/life. And let's see what we can create using less pressure, more trust, more flow. And we'll talk to you again soon. Take care