If we’re honest with ourselves, we must admit that it is difficult to be personally effective every day. Life and business can grind on us after a while, and this is why holidays and vacations were invented. We need to back away from the grind every now and then and give ourselves a pause and a chance to refresh and recharge. When we return refreshed we need to remember that it is the challenge and opportunity of change that keeps life interesting and our work rewarding. By committing to the idea that we are always improving, we can give ourselves the greatest opportunity at outsized success and top performance.
- Start with Self-Awareness: Unless you know where you’re starting from, you have little chance of getting to where you want to go. Take some time and reflect upon what is most important to you in your career and in your life. Consider investing in an assessment that will help you to increase your self-awareness considerably. In many cases, we are socialized to avoid thinking about ourselves, what we believe, how we communicate, how we make decisions, how we collaborate with our teammates, etc. A good behavioral analysis assessment will help you get a very crisp focus on how you are wired and how you can do your best work whether working as an individual contributor or as a member of a team. Once you have increased your self-awareness, you can begin to make more intelligent choices about how you are going to live and work, and get more done in less time, with less stress.
- Sense of Urgency: The highest performers in our society almost always demonstrate an unyielding ability to identify priorities and to assign the most important work, the highest level of urgency. By proactively paying attention to challenges and opportunities, and investing daily in working on the most important work and making tomorrow more manageable, we spend most of our time working on the things that matter most, and run out of time for working on things that are largely a waste of time. When the heat is high in the kitchen, the best performers know it’s time to focus, and they do their best cooking when the pressure is on. There is a strong correlation between being able to focus and prioritize and to demonstrate a high level of urgency when necessary, and becoming a top performer.
- Measure Your Progress: I love knowing where I’m starting from, and where I’m going. I love to let my co-workers know what success is going to look like and tell them what expectations I have so that we can agree what we’re trying to accomplish. Once we start to do the work and follow the plan, we have to measure the key factors that will lead to success and allow ourselves to make course corrections or to alter our plan along the route. If we know what will lead to success, and we know how we can measure it, then we will be able to identify the Key Performance Indicators that will signify we are closing in on a win. Without measurements, it is nearly impossible to tell if you’re gaining on the target or moving further away. Don’t leave it to chance, figure out what success looks like, how you can measure it, and then measure and study the data so that you can find the shortest path to your ultimate success destination.
- Never, Never, Never Give Up!: Winston Churchill had it right. When your current situation is not good, it’s too easy to just throw in the towel. The REAL sweet victories, the ones that mark our finest hours, require mental toughness, tenacity, resilience, perseverance, and the ability to stick to it, even when the going is extraordinarily difficult. Do not give up, EVER. Persistence pays off when you still believe that your goal is a worthy cause, stick to the plan and double down. I had noticed that often when someone gives up, it was just as they were nearing the turning point when all of their previous efforts were about to change their fortunes for the better.
- Don’t Go It Alone: Successful people who are used to performing at the top of their organizations have figured out that they get much more done when they leverage the team around them, than when they try to do everything by themselves. By developing a high level of emotional intelligence and maturity, they attract others to their cause and get tremendous help from their teammates. Each of us has strengths, and each of us has areas where we will still need to develop more strengths. By leveraging the resources around you fully, you tap into the strengths of the other talented people in your organization, and the output you can produce is amplified greatly! Ask your associates for their expertise and help, and be quick to return the favor when asked!
- Choose Wisely: Every person I know tells me that they are having a hard time keeping up with the demands of their life and their work. It has become a very fast paced world around us, hasn’t it? It is absolutely essential that you think about making great CHOICES about how you are going to prioritize and manage your available time, and how quickly you’re going to move, and what you’re going to focus on. In doing so, you will become proactive and significantly more productive. Don’t agonize over decisions, realize that you will decide wisely most of the time, and avoid the temptation to be perfect. Perfection takes too long, and while you’re working on that, the marketplace is moving on to the next thing. In this economy, the spoils go to the people and companies who move quickly and deliver results today, not next month or next year.
- Write Down Your Top 3 Goals: Time has shown that people who are focused on fewer goals outperform people who have eight pages of items on a to-do list. Keep yourself focused by writing down your top 3 goals, the ones that will improve your position the most, and work on them diligently every day until you are satisfied that they are completed. By writing them down, and keeping them posted somewhere visible, you will ensure that they remain top of mind, and you will continue to be focused on them, and attack them with more urgency until you accomplish them. There is magic in writing down your goals. Just as important, make sure your goals are specific, measurable, relevant, and have timelines when you expect to accomplish them.
- Have the Courage To Go It Alone, If Necessary: Occasionally, you are going to be the only one who sees the playing field accurately, and will have to provide some leadership to the rest of the group. I don’t want to encourage you to do everything yourself, you need to remember the leverage that only comes from delegation and working collaboratively with the team. What I’m talking about here is that once in a while, you will be the only one (think Steve Jobs/Winston Churchill) who sees the vision of what is possible. When that happens, you will have to demonstrate the willingness to swim against the current of popular opinion from your peers.
- Develop a Great Mentality: Each of us needs to decide whether we want to have a growth mentality or something else. We also need to decide whether we want to possess an abundance mentality or assume scarcity. We also need to determine whether we’re going to be life-long learners or stand pat on our laurels. There is power in positivity. There is danger in assuming that there is no value in learning, or in assuming that a lost opportunity cannot be replaced with another opportunity. Be optimistic, and believe the best about your teammates, your customers, and the people you meet. I’m not suggesting that you engage in blind faith, but recommend a positive approach to life and business. Such an attitude leads to greater results by combining hard work with intelligence. With a growth mentality, we replace “NO” with “NOT YET” and open doors to opportunities.
- Look Forward to Something: Don’t let your life or your work turn into relentless drudgery. Make a commitment to reward yourself in the near future with something fun that will motivate you to continue to focus on delivering strong results, like a trip to the Caribbean, a golf trip with friends, a family outing to a new destination, etc. Research shows that each of us is happier and more motivated to deliver outstanding work when we have some anticipation for the reward we’ve committed to when we achieve our objective. Life is too short, and by continually setting yourself up to celebrate your victories, you will make the journey more enjoyable and find it easier to remain passionate about the challenge.
These are not the only success strategies that will lead to high performance, but they are time-tested and have worked for me, and for many of the top performers I’ve worked with over the years. Give them a try and let me know how they work for you! Tell us your favorites at firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll share them in a future post! We’ll also send you a complimentary list of Personal Effectiveness Best Practices from Michael’s archives.
Michael is a Business Coach who specializes in developing leadership skills and experience in Emerging Leaders for small and medium sized companies across the United States. If you’d like to be included in our newsletter, send an email to email@example.com.