Perform better every day

“As a rule, we find what we look for; we achieve what we get ready for” James Cash Penney

In the build up to an Olympics, athletes talk a lot about feeling 100% ready and having left no stone unturned in their preparation. The people we work with in the world of work also say that feeling ready is the key to success.

Reading time: 5 minutes

What goes on

Some days you’re on fire – everything flows, it feels great and you deliver great performance. But some days, it’s very different and everything feels like a struggle, performance drops and results suffer.

The inconsistency is frustrating and it happens because too many people don’t know their recipe for success and even if they do, they don’t apply it every day. That’s like choosing to under-perform and it’s not big and it’s not clever.

Five performance truths

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

  1. The best performers choose to be ready, whatever the conditions. They know they’re not having a bad day, they’re doing a bad day.
  2. Knowing what you’re aiming for really matters. If you haven’t got a clear sense of what winning looks, sounds and feels like, you’re not ready.
  3. You need to understand your playing conditions. If you don’t you’re rolling the dice, not getting ready.
  4. Being ready means you need to be an expert on you and what’ve you’ve got. You can’t play to strengths if you don’t know what they are.
  5. Consistency is king. Getting ready is a daily habit, not an event. Like Aristotle said, excellence is what we repeatedly do. And he was a right clever bloke.

Three things to do

  1. Get clear on your goals and understand the conditions. Your goals need to include both the results you want and the performance you need to deliver to get them.
  2. Then build a performance plan to make it happen. It needs to cover how you’ll get into the right mindset, have the right energy levels, create the best place to get ready, get the support you’ll need and use the right skills and knowledge at the right time.
  3. Exploit what you’ve already got in your locker. There are bound to be things you’re really good at. Start with making sure you’re playing to these every day. Working on the stuff you’re not so good at can come later.

A tool to get going

Fiona’s story

Fiona was a sharp cookie (is anyone ever a blunt cookie?) and doing pretty well as a team leader in a big insurance company. But she was frustrated. Some days she felt great – focused, energised, clear in her communication, confident and competent. She felt like a good leader and an expert in her area.

Other days, she felt less focused on what she was doing and why she was doing it. She was less sure what her team needed from her. She felt uncertain, unsure and that chipped away at her confidence, she wasn’t enjoying her job and her performance suffered. She couldn’t figure out what was going on and how she could feel and perform so differently from day to day when she was the same person with all the same qualities, know-how and experience.

Fiona likes to understand stuff so she decided to research whether people who seemed to be consistently good were just born that way or if they actually did different things. She started to test out what difference it would make if, every day, she was clear on her goals, and had factored in her playing conditions. She started to do the things she knew were important (like eating well and getting enough sleep) rather than just knowing they were important but not doing anything about them.

There were some quick wins in terms of energy levels and after a short while confidence and consistency became her trademark. Her team now talks about her being the consistent factor in an inconsistent world and that feels good for Fiona.

Unfortunately, her uncle Dave still talks about the time she fell into the garden pond at a family barbecue and that feels really annoying.