5 Fundamentals to Achieve Peak Performance

Performance Breakthrough

A Radical Approach to Success at Work

Every day, you are performing. You step onto stage whether you are in the lead role or whether you are supporting others. Before the curtain goes up on today’s performance, study these 5 performance fundamentals so that you can perform at your peak.

Who better to teach these fundamentals than Cathy Salit? Cathy is the CEO and founder of Performance of a Lifetime. Her firm helps leaders and companies with the human side of business and strategy. For over twenty years, she has created custom workshops for companies ranging from American Express to Coca-Cola. Her new book, Performance Breakthrough: A Radical Approach to Success at Work is filled with lessons that will transform your performance.

 

“When I let go of what I am, I become what I might be.” -Lao-tzu

 

Performance Fundamental 1: Choose to grow.

You talk about growing instead of knowing. What’s the difference? And why is that important?

We live in a culture where knowing — having all the data, getting the right answer, knowing how to do things as a precondition for doing them — reigns supreme. I call this the “Knowing Paradigm,” and it’s commonly accepted as crucial to success in school, at work, and for life in general. And in moderation, there’s nothing wrong with knowing — it’s critically important when you want to cross the street in traffic, calculate a tip, perform brain surgery, etc.

But to the extent that the Knowing Paradigm crowds out everything else we can do — the growing and developing that comes not from knowing an answer or being right, but from the interplay of our creativity, emotions, perceptions, relationships, and environments — we’re missing out.

This wasn’t a problem when we were little kids (a time of enormous growth and transformation), when we were free to experiment, play, pretend, imagine, and perform. That kind of learning — sometimes called “developmental learning” — is how we learned to walk, talk, ride a bike and about a million other things that weren’t based in facts and we never studied for. And we got a ton of support from the adults in our lives to experiment, explore, and grow in this way.

Illustrations © 2016 by Drew Dernavich for PERFORMANCE BREAKTHROUGH. Approved for use by Drew Dernavich. Illustrations © 2016 by Drew Dernavich for PERFORMANCE BREAKTHROUGH. Approved for use by Drew Dernavich.

But it doesn’t last. For most of us there comes a point when we go from being praised for trying something new (even when we didn’t get it right) to being told we didn’t get it right (even though we were trying something new). Now it’s time to color inside the lines, stop playing around and get serious.

And by the time we get into the job market, the support we got to learn developmentally as children is long gone. As an adult, it can be embarrassing to not know. There are repercussions if we don’t get it right. We feel stupid, and we make others feel stupid if they don’t “have it together.”

 

“All the world’s a stage and most of us are desperately unrehearsed.” –Sean O’Casey

 

That’s one of the downsides of the Knowing Paradigm, and I think we need to challenge it. Being “smart” in this way is making us not so smart in other ways. We get stuck in our roles and our “scripts.” We narrow our interests and forget how to see and act in new ways.

Fortunately, we can start growing again — by reintroducing play, pretending, performing and improvising into our work and lives. We’re not just limited to what we already know and who we already are. We can be who we are and who we’re not…yet. We can be who we’re becoming. This is called the Becoming Principle, and it underlies everything we do and teach.

 

“Success comes from knowing that you did your best to become the best that you are capable of becoming.” –John Wooden

 

Embrace the Unknown

We shun the unknown and the ambiguous, but you say that embracing it is often the best path toward growth. Why is that, and what can help us to embrace it?

Oh, yes. Don’t we all wish we could know how things are going to turn out! Should I take this job? Get married? Come out? Move to another city? Have a kid? If only I knew for sure!

But we can’t know it all, and embracing the unknown and the ambiguous is a way to get in tune with that basic fact of life. As I’ve said, data and information are important, but they’re not all there is. For many of life’s opportunities, instead of “look before you leap,” I think you should “leap before you look.” Perform that new job, that move to a new city, that new relationship — and in the process live life, learn, grow, stretch, and go places and do things that can enrich you. And that goes for things that ultimately fail, as well as succeed.

Improvisation innovator Keith Johnstone said, “Those who say ‘yes’ are rewarded by the adventures they have. Those who say ‘no’ are rewarded by the safety they attain.” If you perform in a more adventurous way, you will have more adventures! If we are only who we already are — then we can’t grow. That’s why I write about the Becoming Principle, which is about being who you are and who you’re not…yet, at the same time.

 

“Those who say yes are rewarded by the adventures they have.” -Keith Johnstone

 

Performance Fundamental 2: Build ensembles everywhere.

Why are ensembles so helpful?

Happy Memorial Day

Don’t Forget

In the United States, it’s Memorial Day weekend. It’s a time when families and friends get together. This week, you’ll see picnics and catch the smell of hot dogs and hamburgers on the grill. Go to the mall and you’ll find a big sale. You may have the chance to catch a baseball game. The summer is officially beginning.

In the midst of all of this, let’s also pause to remember what Memorial Day really is all about. It’s about those who paid the ultimate price and gave their lives for our country and for our freedom.

My friend Lee Greenwood’s song, God Bless the USA, is one of those remarkable anthems that inspires patriotism and reminds us of the precious gift we have been given. Take a few minutes out of your long weekend and enjoy this song. I love this live version from a baseball stadium in 2001.

 

“I won’t forget the men who died who gave that right to me.” –Lee Greenwood

 

“For love of country they accepted death.” –James Garfield

How to Spot the Telltale Signs of a Lie

 

How do you know if you are being deceived?

Do you want to know when someone is lying to you?

 

“Lie spotters are armed with scientific knowledge on how to spot deception.” –Pamela Meyer

 

Pamela Meyer will help you spot a liar. She’s the author of Liespotting and a Certified Fraud Examiner.

 

Surprising Facts about Lies

Some interesting facts about lies:

  • We lie more to strangers than to our coworkers.
  • Extroverts lie more than introverts.
  • We learn to lie as babies by faking cries for attention.
  • The more intelligent the species, the more they are apt to lie.
  • We are lied to on average between 10 and 200 times per day.

Pamela tells one particular story that grabbed my attention. Koko, a gorilla, loved cats and was given a kitten. On one particularly destructive day, Koko managed to rip her sink right out of the wall. When asked about it, Koko signed to her humans that the kitten had done it. Amazing.

 

“The essence of lying is in deception, not words.” –John Ruskin

 

The Telltale Signs of a Lie

What are some telltale signs of a liar?

Meyer touches on some patterns of deception including verbal dodging and body language slips.

Verbal dodging includes:

  • repeating the question
  • telling a story in strict chronological order
  • offering irrelevant details

But lies are not only verbal; we can have body language slips. Meyer explains that liars:

  • chatter with their fingertips
  • shrug their shoulders
  • freeze their upper bodies
  • say yes and shake their head no
  • shift their blinking rate
  • give an overabundance of eye contact
  • show a smug smirk on their face when lying (which she calls duping delight)
  • point feet to the exit
  • place barrier objects between them and the interviewer

And a cautionary note. Most of us may read the book or watch the video, but that likely doesn’t qualify us to know for “certain.” Be careful when making your own conclusions.

Still, it was a fascinating view into a world I knew little about. These signs are not proof of deception, per se, but she says to watch when you see clusters of them appearing together.

 

“In a time of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act.” –George Orwell

 

Interested in learning more on how to spot a liar? Check out Meyer’s book Liespotting: Proven Techniques to Detect Deception.

 

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3 Secrets to Cut Your Meeting Time in Half

3 Secrets to Cut Your Meeting Time in Half Photo

Photo courtesy of iStockphoto/diego_cervo

Make Meetings More Effective

How many meetings do you find yourself in without a clear objective? Do you get stressed in the meeting knowing that the real work is building up while you are stuck? Does the meeting organizer fool anyone when he is unprepared?

 

“People who enjoy meetings should not be in charge of anything.”  –Thomas Sewell

 

Years ago, I was introduced to the concept of the “three P’s” at a Wilson Learning sales training seminar. It was introduced as an effective sales tool. Throughout the years, I have used the three P’s as a way to conduct effective meetings of any kind.  It isn’t just a sales technique.  It can be a way to save a lot of time and energy and focus the meeting on the objective.

 

“The least productive people are usually the ones who are most in favor of holding meetings.”  –Thomas Sewell

 

Use the 3P’s to Get More Done In Less Time

What are the three P’s?  Purpose.  Process.  Payoff.

You Don’t Need A Title To Be A Leader

Title Does Not Equal Leader

Titles are less important than ever before. I’ve long believed that personal power is far more impactful than positional power.

My friend Mark Sanborn has advanced this idea for years. His definition of leadership is broad, one that encompasses everyone in an organization. A leader is someone who helps “people and organizations surpass themselves,” he says, adding that the test of leadership is whether “anything or anyone is better because of you.”You-Dont-Need-a-Title-to-Be-a-Leader-135x200

Mark knows leadership. In addition to his bestselling books, he is one of the most in-demand speakers on leadership, customer service and team building.

Recently, I had the opportunity to talk with Mark about all things leadership. This 10 minute video interview is a great reminder of some of the most important leadership principles. We discuss the definition of leadership and two of the biggest pitfalls leaders face.

Remember: You Don’t Need a Title to Be a Leader.

 

Leadership Quotes

Some of my favorite Mark Sanborn quotes include:

 

“Leadership is the ability to help people and organizations surpass themselves.” -Mark Sanborn

 

“The test of leadership is, is anything or anyone better because of you?”-Mark Sanborn

 

“Leadership is about movement and growth.”-Mark Sanborn

 

“Leadership always benefits the greater good.”-Mark Sanborn

 

“Good leaders make heroes of others.”-Mark Sanborn