It’s my first day back after a week of vacation. We go to Long Island every fall for a week of fishing, reading, and a general slow-down.  In my final three or four days of the inexplicable insanity trying to wrap-up work and home for a vacation, I came across this old quote by Billie Jean King.

Pressure is a privilege.

If you are too young to know who Billie Jean King is, she was a tennis superstar, at her peak in 60s and 70s. She won 39 Grand Slam titles, was a pioneer for women’s tennis, and is most infamous for beating chauvinist tennis player Bobby Riggs in what was called the Battle of the Sexes in 1973.

She wrote a book with the same title as the quote above. What Billie Jean called out is the distinction between seeing pressure as a negative challenge or seeing it as a “privilege.” Each match in her career would not have taken place without being worthy of the challenge and expected to compete to the best of her ability.

In business, I think we often consider how “pressured” we are by our schedule of meetings and deadlines. Achieving those challenges most likely doesn’t feel like a privilege. However, the leadership and strategic work we do (whatever our role) should or could feel like a privilege. Each day might be more grounded if we started with a focus on what challenge we have ahead that will truly make a difference, use our talent, or move the needle on something far bigger than the task.

As I return into my busy world, I am so grateful that I have good work with exceptional people that calls me to perform very well.