Challenging conditions are where high performers love to be

“It never gets easier, you just go faster” – Greg LeMond (Tour de France winner)

Too often people forget that when they sign up to be part of a highly competitive and demanding environment they’re also signing up for a life less easy. Greg Le Monde’s quote simply captures the essence of high performance attitude where tough conditions are embraced and valued because they make you better.

Reading time: 5 minutes

What goes on

Sustained success is never easy. At some point things will get tough, but there will still be a performance to be delivered, a job to be done.

The best performers accept this fact. The best performers dominate the opposition when conditions are easy and they welcome the chance to do the same when conditions are tough.

Whilst other performers describe the unfairness of the conditions and wish things were easier, the best performers step-up and use the tough conditions as a chance to test themselves in a new way. Most are whingers. The few are winners.

Five performance truths

The brutal reality of high performance life – this is what you need to know

  1. Great performers love tough conditions and use them to test how good they really are.
  2. Describing the conditions is only useful when it’s the starting point for deciding how you’re going to step-up and perform in them.
  3. In tough conditions you have to rely much more on great performance – relying on results to feel good isn’t an option.
  4. Performers who plan for tough conditions respond quicker and keep a better attitude.
  5. When conditions are tough, physical energy really matters.

Three things to do

  1. Start with strengths. Know which of your strengths you’re going to be making the most of in the tough conditions. Don’t bother doing anything else until you’ve worked this out.
  2. Make sure you’re better at working out how to perform in tough conditions than you are at moaning about them. Get your attitude towards tough conditions right!
  3. Get really clear about what success looks like. You have to know what you’re trying to achieve given the brutal reality of your arena. That way you can focus on the right things.

A tool to get going

Jurgen’s story

Jurgen’s career had started well and he’d been very successful in his sales role. It had been pretty easy to make decent money and customers had cash to spend. Then the global financial crisis hit and things got very tough very quickly. Within weeks, Jurgen’s figures were at an all time low and so was his confidence.

One of his more experienced colleagues, who’d been through some tough times before, didn’t seem to be suffering quite so badly. His results were not much better than Jurgen’s but his confidence didn’t seem to be taking so much of a beating. He was anxious to find out why and so he bought him a coffee and asked him a few questions.

What he got was some simple advice:

  1. Keep doing the right things with as much energy and confidence as possible so you give yourself the best chance of having a good day – stop focusing just on results.
  2. Use the tough conditions to practice essential skills – ask great questions, build great relationships, demonstrate value and handle objections with confidence. You can’t choose the result but you can always choose the performance.
  3. Keep talking to other people – it’s easy to get isolated and feel like you’re the only one failing and that’s fatal for confidence.

For the next 4 weeks Jurgen put the advice into practice and felt his attitude shifting. He was starting to look forward to the challenge of finding out how well he could do with each opportunity. His attitude was focused much more on using the tough conditions to help him learn and develop. He was less obsessed with just pulling in big numbers, which was just as well, as the numbers he was getting weren’t big, but they were showing more consistency and he knew he was building good relationships with customers. Clever Jurgen.