(Distinctions are subtleties of language that, when gotten, cause a shift in a belief, behavior, value or attitude.)


Bring to mind a time when you were tense. Not particularly pleasant, was it? Some of the attributes of tense are holding your breath, tightness, fear, little room to maneuver, and strong feelings of possible negative outcomes. On the other hand, tense can also be accompanied by alertness, readiness, and the ability to quickly respond. Tense has its uses. The problem is its costs.

Being intense can give you more room to maneuver at a lower cost than being tense. When you are intense you are focused, clear about your objective, up to the task at hand, and desirous of and expecting a positive outcome.

And that may be the key to intense versus tense, your intended outcome.

When tense, your expectation is on a possible negative outcome. Consequence rules. Punishment and blame await, if you mess up.

When intense, your expectation is on creating a positive outcome. Opportunity rules. Victory awaits, if your intense efforts are successful.

Sure, you can have a positive outcome from a tense performance and a negative outcome from an intense one, but the path to the outcome has a very different cost.

Tense can intimidate. Intense can inspire.


Coaching Point: Do you help the people around you feel that what they are doing deserves intensity? Or do you just make people feel tense?


Copyright 2011 Steve Straus. All rights reserved.