Why you should read: “The Upside of Stress” by Kelly McGonigal

Jos Postma

Updated on:

Reading Time: 2 minutes

“The Upside of Stress” by Kelly McGonigal stands out as a pivotal read for professionals in leadership and product management roles, especially for those aiming to advance their careers. This book should be at the top of your reading list for several compelling reasons. Firstly, McGonigal, a seasoned health psychologist, delves into the transformative power of stress, challenging the conventional narrative that often paints stress as a purely negative force. For professionals in high-stake roles like leadership and product management, understanding and harnessing stress can be a game-changer. The book provides actionable insights into how stress, when approached correctly, can enhance focus, boost productivity, and foster resilience—qualities that are indispensable in a professional setting. By redefining the relationship with stress, readers can unlock new levels of performance and well-being, making this book an essential tool for personal and professional growth.

Now, let’s delve into a detailed review of “The Upside of Stress”:


In “The Upside of Stress,” Kelly McGonigal presents a paradigm shift in how we perceive and interact with stress. She argues that stress, contrary to popular belief, isn’t always harmful. Instead, it can be a powerful tool for growth and achievement, particularly in professional environments.

Key Concepts

  • Reframing Stress: McGonigal emphasizes the importance of changing our mindset about stress. By viewing stressful situations as challenges rather than threats, we can harness stress to our advantage.
  • Stress and Growth: The book explores the concept of ‘stress-induced growth’, demonstrating how stressful experiences can lead to personal development, enhanced problem-solving skills, and improved emotional resilience.
  • Practical Strategies: The author offers practical strategies for transforming one’s response to stress. These include mindfulness practices, cultivating a sense of purpose, and developing social connections to manage stress more effectively.
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Relevance to Professionals

For leaders, product managers, and product owners, the book’s insights are particularly valuable:

  • Improved Decision-Making: By understanding stress’s role in cognitive functioning, professionals can make better decisions under pressure.
  • Enhanced Leadership Skills: Leaders will find valuable lessons in using stress to motivate and inspire their teams, turning challenges into opportunities for team growth.
  • Resilience in Product Management: Product managers and owners will learn how to use stress as a catalyst for innovation and adaptability in the ever-evolving market landscape.


While the book offers groundbreaking perspectives, it could benefit from more diverse case studies, especially from various professional fields. Additionally, some readers might find the scientific explanations challenging, although they are essential to understanding the book’s core arguments.


“The Upside of Stress” by Kelly McGonigal is more than just a book; it’s a mindset revolution for professionals seeking to leverage stress as a positive force in their careers. Its blend of scientific research with practical applications makes it a must-read for anyone in leadership or product management, promising not just career advancement but also a healthier, more resilient approach to professional challenges.

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