Secrets to Performing at Your Best
Secrets to Performing at Your Best
There is a well-worn story of a young man who wanted to make a lot of money, and so he went to a guru. He told the guru, “I wanna be on the same level that you’re on.”
And so, the guru said, “If you wanna be on the same level that I’m on, I’ll meet you tomorrow at the beach at 4 am.”
The young man thought, “The beach. I said I wanna make money, I don’t wanna swim.” But the young man got there at 4 am, all ready to rock and roll.
The old guru grabbed his hand. “How bad do you want to be successful?”
So, the guru said, “Walk on out in the water.”
So, he walks out into the water, about waist deep. He said to himself, “This man’s crazy. I wanna make money, he’s got me out here swimming. I didn’t ask to be a lifeguard. I wanna make money.”
The guru said, “Come out a little further.” So, he did. He was up right about at the shoulder area.
He thought, “This old guru is crazy. He’s making money, but he’s crazy.”
The guru said, “Come out a little further”. He came out a little further, and the water was right at his mouth. The young man said, “I’m about to go back to the shore. This man’s out of his mind.”
But the guru shouted, “I thought you wanted to be successful!”
He said, “I do!”
The guru said, “Walk a little further…”
He went further, and the guru dropped his head in the water. He held him under. The man was scratching, clawing, fighting to get up. The guru kept him down under water. And just before the young man was about to pass out the guru raised him up.
The Guru said, “I got a question for you. When you were under water, what was the only thing you wanted to do? More than anything?” He said, “I wanted to breathe.”
The guru said, “When you want to succeed as bad as you want to breathe, then you’ll be successful.”
Now, I hope that this story is NOT literally true, and I certainly do NOT recommend the guru’s approach or tactics. However, my time as a coach has shown me that though it is somewhat true that, “When you want to succeed as bad as you want to breathe, then you’ll be successful”, wanting to succeed alone is not enough. We need to add to our desire for success the right habits, routines and practices. These habits, routines and practices make all the difference.
For me, it is all about the sporting buzz-phrase of the day – “the aggregation of marginal gains”, or “the drive to perfect every controllable detail in search of optimal performance”. John Wooden said this: “Races are won by a fraction of a second, National Championship games by a single point. That fraction of a second or a single point is the result of relevant details performed along the way”. It is about being willing to do 100 things 1% better. Marginal gains mean that 100 things done 1% better will deliver incremental and cumulative competitive advantage. Marginal gains can be physical, operational, and even psychological, mental, or emotional. We need to nourish in order to flourish!
Now, W. Edwards Deming established the Total Quality Movement, first in Japan and then in the rest of
the world. Deming’s contribution is historically so important that U.S. New & World Report called him one of the “nine hidden turning points in history” (along with the birth control pill and the Apostle Paul). After over 50 years of research, Deming pointed out that in every process there is a beginning and an end. When you focus on the first 15% of that process and get it correct, you insure at least 85% of your desired outcome. By focusing on the first 15% of anything, the remaining 85% will typically effortlessly flow. “Getting the process correct”, when it comes to you and I, is all about ongoing training, education, personal growth, and personal development. Michelangelo said that, “If people knew how hard I worked to get my mastery, it wouldn’t seem so wonderful at all.”
Many potential high performers are stuck at average performer because they are so afraid of the work required to get there. Don’t fear the work, dominate the work! Hustle and grind!
So, here are 6 Secrets for Performing at Your Best…
1) Manage Your Mission.
One consistent thread running through all our lives, especially in the age of information overload and instant connectivity, is distraction. A 5-minute Google search can so easily become an hour or two in an Internet black hole. High-Performing Leaders stay mission focused. They have spent time and energy to determine what they really care about in terms of mission, why they care about it, and how that mission will drive their daily actions. There is a ton of variation in the mission of different High-Performing People, but they remind themselves on a consistent basis of their personal and professional mission, and this constant reminder helps them stay sharp, focused, and clear.
Mission speaks to focus.
2) Manage Your Motivation.
Motivation matters. It is the fuel that keeps you going when the mission looks distant and unreachable. Your motivation is the why behind the what and behind the how in your life. A consistently healthy why leads to a healthy what and a healthy how. When our motivation is unhealthy, we place unrealistic demands on ourselves, and unachievable expectations on others. High-Performing People spend time digging deep, reflecting and pondering their motivation, and they do the work necessary, often in the framework of accountable relationships, to ensure their motivations are mostly selfless, pure, and beneficial to others.
Albert Schweitzer said, “The tragedy of life is what dies inside a man while he lives”. Each of us have a distinct purpose, and clarity of purpose and focus is CRITICAL. In my view, purpose answers the question of, Why Were You Born? When we figure out why we were born and walk in your purpose, we will be happy and brimming over with personal and professional abundance. We all need to ask this question: “What is my job on this planet? What needs to be done, that probably won’t happen unless you take responsibility for it? Abundance always flows from alignment. Throughout history, a sense of Personal Mission has propelled people to amazing heights because abundance flows from alignment.
There are many definitions of a Personal Purpose. I think it is the place where our Skills & Abilities, and our Passion & Personality converge to fill in the “Gaps” which capture our heart:
– Solving Problems
– Answering Questions
– Healing Wounds
– Meeting Needs
– Filling a Void
– Making A Difference
Mahatma Gandhi famously said, “The difference between what we are doing and what we’re capable of doing would solve most of the world’s problems”. Some of these Gaps really capture our heart. It is at the convergence of this “Gap”, and our Skills & Ability, and Passions & Personality, that we find our Purpose:
Motivation speaks to fuel.
3) Manage Your Map (your daily plan).
High-Performing People formulate and map out a plan for each day. Each day is a new 24-hour allocation to accomplish their mission, and so High-Performing Leaders maximize their potential by mapping out a schedule for the day, week, and month. For many, the morning is a good time for this because it is one of the only quiet times a person gets throughout the day. The early hours foster easier reflection that helps when prioritizing activities and fitting things into a timetable. Most High-Performing People are early risers, but some do it on the other end, and stay up deep into the night to find time and space for quiet reflection.
Managing your map speaks to formulation.
4) Manage Your Mind.
The truth is that where the mind goes, the man or woman follows. Our mind can be our greatest asset in terms of positivity, empowerment, and support for our goals and objectives, or it can be our greatest hindrance. Positive thinking doesn’t change anything in and of itself, but it empowers us to execute with greater energy, authenticity, and empowerment. Negativity drains, attracts negative people with negative energy, and costs us the energy we so desperately need to achieve at a high level. Positive thinking enables us to do almost everything better than negative thinking will, and it attracts other positive people who bring energy, soul-nourishment, and brighter perspectives.
Managing your mind speaks to faith.
5) Manage Your Mood.
Closely aligned with managing your mind is managing your mood. Happy people are productive and resilient
people who continue to bounce back through obstacles, hindrances and setbacks. Interestingly, the vast majority of us have complete control over our moods. Unless we have a significant mental health issue, our daily mood is the product of our daily habits, including our daily thought lives. When we spend time exercising, eating healthy foods, getting the appropriate amount of sleep, honoring our spirituality, connecting with healthy people, and continually learning, our mood will be positive and healthy. However, when we consistently cheat ourselves of exercise, healthy food, sleep, spirituality, healthy relationships, and learning, we will find that our mood tends to be consistently negative and disempowering. High-Performing People manage their mood, and they do so be consistent self-care practices of exercise, nutrition, sleep, spirituality, healthy relationships, and learning.
Managing your mood speaks to fortitude.
6) Manage Your Mistakes.
High-Performing People understand what C.S. Lewis said, that “…failures are finger posts on the road to achievement.” Attaining success is about having the courage to try new things and at times, not hit the mark. But each time we miss it, we learn and recalibrate our aim, and we cultivate our lives personally and professionally towards success. Failure is one of the best teachers, and is really just delay, not defeat. To overcome failure, we need to learn from it. If we do not learn from our failure, all that pain and misery is wasted, and we risk making the same mistakes over and over again.
Managing your mistakes speaks to follow-through.
In part, I do believe that when you want to succeed as bad as you want to breathe, then you’ll be successful. However, we need to add to our desire for success the right habits, routines and practices. These habits, routines and practices make all the difference. Your day is pretty much formed by how you spend your first hour or two, and so spend it designing empowering thoughts, formulating a positive attitude, and focusing your heart on what replenishes you. We will never change our life until we change something we do daily.
The secret of your success is in your daily routine.
Check out last month’s blog post here.
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