I asked David, a successful newspaper owner and executive, what he did when he was under a lot of pressure. He said, "I go for a walk to clear my mind." I received a similar response from Dawn, a social worker in an Inuit community, when we were discussing community response patterns to stress. "When people here feel pressured or stressed they often go for a hike," she said (and that can be at 30 below zero). But sometimes just taking a breath or a break, or attempting to walk off pressure or upset, doesn't get the job done. You have to do something more, first, like blow off some tension.
On the road with the Seattle Mariners in Chicago, I had arranged an afternoon meeting with a pitcher who had consulted with me on several occasions. When I got to his hotel room, I found him in a heated argument with his wife. I waited outside the room for him to extricate himself from the unpleasant exchange.
When it was over, he was visibly shaken. We went back to my room and since he was still upset I said, "Why don't you just sit back, relax, and tune into your breathing."
"Relax. I don't want to relax!" he roared. "My wife's on my back. My ex-wife's on my case, and my kids are bugging me. I've got a splitting headache, and I'm scheduled to pitch tonight." It was clear that he had to vent some of the charge he had built up, before he could feel calm enough for us to get down to business. He went on to rant about assorted family frustrations for another ...