"The first source of positive tension is a compelling goal that pulls you because of its desirability and magnitude."
When can “tension” in your life actually be a good thing?
Tension is defined as the “state of being stretched tight.” Now, when you hear that, you can probably relate, being stretched to the limits of your ability, energy, or emotional capacity. When our bodies are tense, muscles become knots, and our minds can lock up like overloaded processors because you’re trying to handle or think everything at once.
Positive tension is the opposite, when there is a force stretching us for our benefit. Instead of being pulled in all directions, you’re being pulled in a primary direction, or feeling the pull between two important objectives.
Two ways you can change from negative tension to positive tension are:
1. Use your imagination and thoughts to assess your situation and your goals, letting go of negativity.
Think of a sailboat. In order to tack into the wind, you need a direction, but if the sails are flapping or luffing, then it becomes a tense or frustrating experience. Yet apply positive tension, and the sails snap to become airfoils, propelling the boat on a confident course.
2. Identify your primary goals and adjust how they fit in your life between work, relationships and other areas.
The first source of positive tension is a compelling goal that pulls you because of its desirability and magnitude. It resonates with you, and causes you to stretch your thinking, adjust your sails, learn, and test new skills. It doesn’t feel like effort, so much as an expression of desire and determination, and the process makes you better along the way.
Positive tension also results because of the pull between two objectives, both of which are important to us. Work and family. Health and friendship. Limited resources and limitless desires. We may default to see life events as separate, competing for our time, energy, and finances. But the opportunity and abundance happens in the connection, or the tension between the forces of our life.
Creativity and inspiration happens because of constraints and exactness of circumstance. I call these connections between your work, relationships, health, spirit, and passions, your “lifelines.” And just like adjusting sails, strengthening and luffing the lifelines, gives a powerful shape to the “pull” of your life.
You begin to harness the headwinds to your benefit, because every gust provides another opportunity to test your resolve and improve your clarity about what really matters.
So this week, when you’re feeling pulled in multiple directions, recognize that this is a chance to improve your understanding and resourcefulness, using positive tension. You’re not being torn, you’re being honed for greatness.