How to get through a pressure cooker moment?

A few weeks ago, to ease the pressure on kitchen time and resources, we decided to cook more ‘one pot meals’. Our old pressure cooker was too small to cope with this new plan so a new one was ordered. On arrival, the bigger, better, pressure cooker, was baked in the balcony sun for a few hours, then it was given a good wash down and deemed ready for use. This is when the action began.

Three different pairs of hands (duly sanitised) got to work on trying to fit the pressure cooker lid onto the pot. After many efforts to get the two pieces to fit together, some conclusions were drawn. “Maybe it got damaged in transit and the alignment has got spoilt?” “Maybe it has a part missing?” Later that day, this pressing problem was presented to me. “Can you take a look at the pressure cooker, there is a problem… the lid is not fitting correctly.”

I have to confess, I have only used a pressure cooker once before. The old one, which had a lid that goes into the pot and then locks closed from within. The new version that confronted me was a completely different design. I studied it for a good 30 seconds and then proceeded to fight with it for a full 3 minutes. By now beads of sweat were starting to build on my brow. I sat down at the dining table, put the AC on and settled in to apply my mind to how these two pieces must fit together. Adding to the pressure of this pressure cooker assembly job, was the fact that I had an audience. 

Thankfully, ten minutes into the ordeal my hands stopped working and my mind kicked in. I asked if there was an instruction manual inside the box that had been so carefully thrown away. The manual was located. Thirty seconds later the pressure cooker lid and the pot were joyfully united. That’s all it took, a few seconds to read the instructions, line up the two arrows (which were there in plain sight if only I had known where to look), a light press  down, once they were lined up, a slight twist of the wrist and presto, the new prestige was ready to start steaming ahead.

Such a simple lesson. Too much misdirected action does not result in much, other than a lot of sweat. Too many people trying to do a job with the best intent does not help either. What is needed sometimes is a pause, some research and reflection. Seek to first understand what needs to be done. Take the time to read the instructions. Then swing into action. Mindful action Vs Mindless action.

Which brings me to the moral of this story. The pressure cooker moment reminded me of my first few weeks in lockdown. The pressure cooker environment of fear and containment it created, went by in a blur of frantic action. There was so much to do, so much newness to navigate, no time to pause and think, running hard, working long hours, lots of effort. Much like my experience with the pressure cooker. The turning point or the ‘instruction manual moment’ for me came in the form of a coaching session one Saturday about a month into the lockdown. 

In the midst of being busy and among all things urgent, I had lost sight of the ‘important’ in the first month. The hour I spent with my coach gave me the much needed insight and clarity that was needed. I had finally found the time to pause, let off some steam and look within. And just like the instruction manual helped me see the arrows that were in plain sight, my coach helped do the same. I am back in alignment. Everything fits together just perfectly and I too am racing ahead full steam.

So here is me, reminding you to take the time to find your alignment. I found the answer in a session with my Coach. You know what works for you, it may be time with yourself, talking to a friend or a mentor or something else. Re-connect with your source of clarity and positive energy. Find your operating manual and find the time to read it. You will find yourself moving from ‘frantic action and anxiety’ to a ‘state of flow’ – that is the way to let off some steam and get through the pressure cooker environment that we are living in. 

Seeti Bajao. Whistle Poodu Da.


The views and opinions published here belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of the publisher.

Nikhil Dey
Nikhil Dey is Vice Chair of Weber Shandwick India. Nurturing talent and helping clients achieve their goals is what makes him happy. He loves learning from students of communication, teaching courses and guest lecturing at various educational institutions. When he is not working you will find him on the tennis court or out for long walks with his family and four legged friends.
Nikhil is a certified life and leadership coach (International Coach Federation - ICF).
He can be reached on twitter @deydreaming

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