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Each and every one of us owns our own performance through the conscious choices we make, coupled with an attitude of constant curiosity for learning.
Sometimes, particularly as adults, we slip into the trap of complacency, operating in a state of unconsciousness where it feels like we are just going through the motions. It’s the day you slip into a place that I call ‘the groove or the grave’ – no man’s land. It’s the day you accept your place in the world of mediocrity where just enough is good enough. It’s the day when you lose your edge and stop being your best self.
But a big challenge for many of us is how we learn to improve ourselves.
Now I’m not talking here about needing to learn a new skill and filling this gap by attending a course or programme or embarking on some form of adult education, which quite worryingly, has been in decline since 2002. What I’m talking about is showing up every single day, being the best version of you.
Stairway to professional performance heights
Here are my 3 top tips you can take to ensure you’re on the pathway to becoming the best version of you:
1. Become your own performance coach
‘Learn something new today’ should not be just a lesson from when you were a child, it should be a lifelong lesson. High achievers know this and it becomes their daily ritual.
Because high achievers have this insatiable thirst for learning, for showing up every day, being the best version of themselves they can be. They spend their life being their own performance coach, ensuring they reach their true and maximum potential.
Let me ask you a question. When was the last time you read a biography, a business or educational book? A book which feeds your mind, emotions or spirit? If you’re not a keen reader, have you listened to an audiobook?
If your daily commute is, for example, 1.5 hours a day, that’s 7.5 hour per week. The average audio book is 7 hours. That’s one audio book per week!
If you don’t have a long commute or drive to work, what about on the train, in the gym, or while out running? Turn your mode of transport into a learning environment (your university on wheels!) and imagine your potential you could unlock with just this one strategy!
Download podcasts, watch a TED talk, get active on Pinterest, join and participate in groups on Facebook or LinkedIn, attend a webinar, get active in the community. Choose something to help you grow personally or professionally.
2. Set YOUR standards for personal excellence
Sounds great in theory, but how do you put this into practice? How do you set your standards of personal excellence so you are being the best version of you every day?
I’ve spent two decades coaching and mentoring business leaders, managers, owners and entrepreneurs and my first question is always ‘where are you setting your bar personally and professionally?’ This simple question often results in an awkward silence, so to bring it to life I use an exercise called Raising the Bar.
(Check out Royston Guest’s video below – he is viewable on screen after a minute or so from the start)
The exercise begins with me asking the individual to pick up an imaginary bar and hold it above their head at 6ft in the air. I then ask them to write down 3 easy strategies to get over the 6ft bar. Answers always include pole jumping, standing on a chair, leap frogging – you name it, I’ve heard it!
Now I ask the individual to raise the same bar so it’s 100ft in the air, and write down 5 strategies to get over the 100ft bar. This is where the answers get creative…build a wall, hire a crane, shoot yourself out of a cannon, honestly, I’ve heard this one!
Then I close the exercise by asking will the strategies to get you over the 6ft bar get you over the 100ft bar? Obviously, no. Will the strategies that get you over the 100ft bar get you over the 6ft bar? Yes, absolutely, every day of the week.
So, my question to you is this… ‘where are you setting your bar personally and professionally?’ Is YOUR bar set at 6ft and therefore you’re having 6ft thoughts or is it set at 100ft and you’re having 100ft thoughts?
At the 6ft bar we’re thinking from a narrow tunnel perspective, doing just enough to hit the mark, no more and no less. However, at the 100ft bar, we’re thinking from a wide funnel perspective, stretching our minds as to the sense of possibilities and the opportunities open to us in both our personal and professional life.
Don’t fall into the trap of setting yourself limiting beliefs by aiming only for a 6ft bar, set your sights on the 100ft bar and surprise yourself with what you can achieve. As Michelangelo famously said: “The greater danger for most of us is not that our aim is too high and we miss it, but that it is too low and we hit it.”
3. Hold yourself accountable
There is a misconception that we can ‘will ourselves to success’. Honestly, in all my experience, I’ve never come across this one actually working!
This is YOUR performance, YOUR standards of excellence – so, no surprise, it’s down to YOU to make this happen. It shouldn’t be someone else’s job to make sure you are doing the things that you know you should be doing and you certainly shouldn’t leave it down to chance or luck.
But taking sole accountability doesn’t mean you have to go it alone.
Get an ‘accountability buddy’. There is an expression which says, ‘If you want to fly with the eagles, don’t hang round with the turkeys’. Who you spend time with is who you become. If you want to be a high achiever surround yourself with like-minded people with common values who will stretch and challenge you to grow.
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