The Pressure To Reach Your Greatness

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Jul 15, 2022 by Sean Luce

Have you ever heard someone say, or maybe even you have made the comment, “I’m stressed out.” Or, “There’s a lot of pressure to get that sale.”

Is stress and pressure really real? We all go through tough cycles in our life and we go through cycles in our sales career and if you’ve been selling for more than six months, you know what I mean. The critical thing is to be able to manage yourself through those cycles, or manage those people that work with you and for you through their selling cycles. I don’t know anybody who has never missed a sales goal before. I know plenty, and have coached many sales reps, that have come back after missing a few and continue to be great sales reps like they were before they went into a down cycle.

I learned the difference between stress and pressure from one of my cousins (second cousin) who was a three-time Super Bowl champion tight end for the Dallas Cowboys. He played high school football in the same state I did -- Nebraska. He’s from Gothenburg, Nebraska. His name is Jay Novacek. I think Jay was the best Plan B (free agency) player the Dallas Cowboys have had in their franchise history, and he was a great Plan A for his quarterback Troy Aikman during their three Super Bowl runs in the ‘90s. Jay is now the reality show superstar for Ride TV ( in a series called Saddle Up With Jay. Ride TV is a 24/7, soon-to-be-available-nationwide cable channel that features everything about horses and more.

I remember watching some of the Cowboys games with my dad when Jay was playing. A typical conversation between a father and son from Nebraska on those occasions went like this… Dad: “There goes your cousin scoring another touchdown. Maybe you could have been more like him.” Me: “Maybe if I’d been a couple of inches taller. Maybe that would have helped, dad. Thanks.”

What is that difference between stress and pressure? According to Webster’s Dictionary, stress is defined as “a state of mental tension and worry caused by problems in your life, work, etc.” We go back to Webster’s for the definition of pressure: “The exertion of force upon a surface by an object, fluid, etc”. Stress is mental and most of it is self-inflicted. Being a fan of Jay’s over the years, he taught me what the difference between stress and pressure was, and I have used it in my sales career. When the Cowboys were going to their first Super Bowl under Jimmy Johnson in 1992, this exchange between Jay and a reporter appeared in the Houston Chronicle leading up to the game:

Reporter: Being the son of a coach and having brothers who were such great athletes, did that put more pressure on you to succeed?
Novacek: What is pressure? You can’t see pressure. You show me pressure.
Reporter: Aw, come on. You feel it in your stomach.
Novacek: Show me pressure.
Reporter: I’ll show you some guy’s EKG or something.
Novacek: Naw, that’s stress. Pressure doesn’t exist. There are a lot of things you feel, but pressure does not exist.
Reporter: All right, Sunday, the first play, you’re out there and there are going to be butterflies, right?
Novacek: Right!
Reporter: What is that?
Novacek: Butterflies. It’s like saying there are no problems in the world, there are only challenges.
Reporter: Have you always felt like this?
Novacek: Look, pressure is an excuse. They say, “Well, you’re going to have a lot of pressure out there.” Well, it’s an excuse. Like saying, “Okay, there is pressure out there. If I do something wrong, it’s because of pressure.” It’s an excuse. Pressure doesn’t exist.
Reporter: You’re in the end zone. The ball comes to you. You catch it; it’s a touchdown. That’s not pressure?
Novacek: No, that’s a touchdown.

See, Nebraska boys are smart and talented! Jay went on to catch the first touchdown in that year’s Super Bowl against the Buffalo Bills. With that attitude, Jay would make a great salesperson and a reality show superstar.

Since we are talking about Nebraska high school (Lincoln Southeast) experiences, my toughest challenge: Home economics class -- that was a pressure-cooker! Tom Rathman, San Francisco 49ers Super Bowl champion fullback and current 49ers running backs coach, a Grand Island, Nebraska native, was hard to tackle when he broke into the open. He hit hard and fast. Toughest kid I ever tackled: North Platte, Nebraska’s Zane Smith, who would also go on to pitch 100 winning games over a 12-year Major League Baseball career primarily with the Atlanta Braves organization.

Sean Luce is the Head National Instructor for the Luce Performance Group International and can be reached at or www.luceperformancegroup.comSean’s new book The Liquid Fire can be found on


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