No Pressure, No Diamonds.

October 1, 2009 · 4 comments

diamond“No pressure, no diamonds.”

About an hour after I read that Thomas Carlyle quote in this blog post last week, I almost threw up. That’s because a campaign that my team and I were launching this week hit a big, unexpected roadblock. And it seemed unfixable to everyone involved – including me.

In situations like this, it’s easy to focus your energy on things like venting, wishing the problem wasn’t happening or pointing toward the person who dropped the ball that led to the problem. It’s a human reaction. For some reason, though, that Carlyle quote came to mind a couple minutes after the “bomb” dropped, probably because it was still fresh in my mind. I’m really glad it did. It made me focus my energy on a singular, positive thing – doing any and everything within my power and the power of those around me to attempt to move the roadblock.

The next 24 hours were some of the most mentally and emotionally intense hours of my professional career to date. They ended with us somehow unbelievably overcoming major odds to solve the problem. I don’t mean we came up with a less desirable alternative. We solved the problem. We hustled, scrambled and scrutinized every inch of every possible way to reclaim the day. And I can’t tell you how many times I repeated “No pressure, no diamonds” to myself during the course of it all.

The next day, I created a little sign for my office. Now, when I look up from my laptop, I see Carlyle’s words looking back at me.

It’s easy to keep moving forward when things are going smoothly. It’s facing off against incredible challenges that show you what you’re really made of, though.

What helps you stay focused on overcoming tough odds when they come your way?

*Image by Steve Jurvetson.

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

1 David Teicher @Aerocles October 2, 2009 at 10:34 am

Love that phrase. I think an extension of it would be indicative of a problem I’ve been encountering when it comes to people’s perceptions and expectations of social media. That is to say, there’s this catch 22. Brands want ‘Results’ from social media investments. Yet, their hesitance to embrace the medium results in a ‘Half-Assed’ approach that all too often leads to poor return, confirming their initial suspicions, even though it was their own fault & beliefs that lead to the the actualization of this self-fulfilling prophecy.

Confusing but true. While “No Pressure No Diamonds” is a mantra we can chant to help get us through the day and overcome impediments, I need a phrase that conveys this truism on a larger scale – without commitment, expenditure of respectable efforts, there will never be any reward. I need a phrase that condenses this message but nothing as kitchy or cliche as “No Pain No Gain”

Can someone help me out here?


2 Bryna October 2, 2009 at 2:21 pm

What a great maxim for both our professional and personal lives! I really enjoyed this post. Thanks for sharing. I needed it :)


3 Gretchen Ramsey October 2, 2009 at 4:43 pm

Diamonds are a girl’s best friend.


4 Keith Trivitt October 8, 2009 at 4:44 pm

David – This quote is getting printed out right now and going up on my office bulletin board … I absolutely love the simplicity, yet powerful truthfulness of that quote.

Lately, I have noticed myself falling into a bad trap that I really work very hard to avoid, and that is the one you mention above, the “woe is me, how will I/we ever get out of this mess?” dilemma. I can’t stand that for myself, personally, and I certainly can’t stand that for those who work with me on projects. What I work really hard to do to avoid this and to overcome these immense obstacles is two things:

1. Take a walk. Unless it’s a breaking crisis situation that requires the “all-hands on deck” immediate response from you and everyone on your team, I really thrive when I momentarily take myself out of a situation to find a better perspective on something. I’m a hyper person by nature, so on the flip side of this, stress and pressure tend to build up pretty quickly inside me. Therefore, walks are key for me to break a problem down, no matter how big it is, figure out the key components that need to be dealt with right away, and then try to piece together every part of our solution to ensure that no other major problems arise and that hopefully, we find a positive (in the end) out of this difficult situation.

2. Break the problem down. You simply have to do this, in my opinion. If you try to tackle a major problem, say a Web site for a big client launch isn’t ready due to some coding glitch, even though it has been promised to the media and public for two weeks, you’re simply going to get overwhelmed and never find a viable solution. Break it down. What needs to be done first to enact a chain of positive events to happen in order to piece together the solution and move forward? Who are the key people and contacts you will need throughout this situation to resolve the issue?

Those are my tactics … great subject, and definitely something I’m thinking about now!



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