One thing I know from working as a coach is that being really nice to everyone isn't always the best approach. Sometimes other people want and expect someone to demand something more from them, something more than they're used to giving, something more than they might expect from themselves. Throughout history the most successful coaches have been those who have put an appropriate amount of pressure on the people they're coaching in an attempt to get them to surpass their previous performances, to get them to do better than they ever have before, to run faster than they ever have, to work harder than ever.
I know that this principle is very important to me in my life. I always try to search out situations that will provide a certain amount of pressure for me so that I can work better than I ever have before. I know that pressure is a motivator for me and that I function well under pressure, and I also know that when I'm facing no pressure at all, I have a hard time motivating myself to do what I want to do. When I was in college, for example, and I had papers due, I always was able to turn in a high-quality paper by the due date; on the other hand, there are still novels and short stories that I haven't written because I simply don't feel the motivation to get started on them. If I had a deadline, though, I'm sure that novels would come regularly to me.
It can be easy to put a little bit of pressure on ourselves without overdoing it. Doing so can give us that motivation that we may need to get something very important done in our lives, that may or may not have been done without the extra little bit of pressure. Sometimes it takes committing ourselves to getting something done for someone else--a promise to another person can provide just the right amount of pressure for us. Other times it may involve making a commitment on a professional level to help ourselves to find motivation to accomplish something that we've always wanted to do anyway. When I think of pressure, I always think of the example of the kite--it never would fly if it didn't have a wind blowing against it, and it's the fighting of that wind that causes--and allows--the kite to fly. I want to keep the pressure on myself up so that I can drive myself to get things done that I might never do otherwise, in my time and on my terms.