Reaching Your Peak Performance

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“Does your performance reflect your potential?” is a question posed by Scott Addis in the introduction of his new book.  It’s a question I have often asked of myself and of others over the years. Reaching your potential, hitting peak performance, and achieving your best self are different ways to talk about the subject of personal success.  I recently had the opportunity to talk with Scott about his thoughts on maximizing performance.

Confident people risk security to achieve higher levels of growth and independence. -Scott Addis

 

Scott Addis is the President and CEO of The Addis Group and Beyond Insurance, and author of SUMMIT: Reach Your Peak And Elevate Your Customers’ Experience. Beyond Insurance is a coaching and consulting company whose purpose is to transform the process that insurance agents, brokers and carriers use when working with clients. Scott is recognized as an industry leader having been awarded the Inc. Magazine’s “Entrepreneur of the Year” Award as well as “25 Most Innovative Agents in America”.

SUMMIT is divided into four elevations.  What are the four elevations?  Why is the book organized this way?

When it came to putting the material into a book, I thought it seemed natural to organize and edit the writings into a sequence that reflected a progression from individual skill development to business relationships to the customer experience.  Summit is therefore divided into the following four elevations:

 

Elevation I: Preparing for the Climb (Developing Your Personal Readiness)

Elevation II:  Setting up Base Camp (Preparing to Present Yourself to Others)

Elevation III:  On to the Summit (Focusing on the Customer Experience)

Elevation IV:  The Final Ascent (Discovering Your Inner Strengths)

In Elevation I, you emphasize the importance of paying attention to four performance indicators and developing them as the reader progresses.  One of these performance indicators is natural strength.  Why is it crucial to focus on honing natural strengths rather than improving weaknesses?

Every person who has ever lived has natural strengths (also known as Unique Abilities) though most people are not conscious of them.  Because of this lack of awareness, these people have not experienced the infinite rewards that come from being able to harness and develop their natural talents and pursue their passions wholeheartedly.  The more you are able to recognize your natural strengths and shape your life around them, the more freedom, success and happiness you will experience.  Your Unique Abilities (i.e., Natural Strengths) have four characteristics:

  1. A superior ability that other people notice and value
  2. Love doing it and want to do it as much as possible
  3. Energizing for you and others around you
  4. You keep getting better, never running out of possibilities for further improvement

Most individuals are not able to identify their natural strengths, let alone concentrate on them, because they are trapped by childhood training.  We learn at a young age that the secret to success in life is working on our weaknesses.  Unfortunately, it is the focus on weaknesses that results in a sense of deficiency, failure and guilt.  As a result, our lives are filled with frustration, wasted potential and missed opportunities.  Letting go of these “lack of abilities” to focus on the things you love is a key to maximizing your performance.

 

Innovation is the lifeblood of the peak performer. -Scott Addis

 

In Elevation III, you discuss the customer experience.  What is the customer experience?  Why are the first impressions so significant in building customer relationships?

The Customer Experience Journey is the sum of all experiences that the customer has with you and your firm, the actions and results that make the customer feel important, understood, heard and respected.  Each customer interaction molds and shapes the Journey.

A first impression is the mark you make in the first moments of interacting with someone.  This impression has a strong effect on one’s intellect, feelings, or conscience.

It is interesting to note that the brain is immensely perceptive and takes into account every minor detail of another’s facial features.  The sight and sound around us are picked up by sense organs and the signals are passed to the brain.  These signals are then compared to the memories of past experiences.  The interpretations of these signals play a key role in forming the first impression.Addis_jacket.indd

In your book, you write:  “Work-life balance remains my biggest challenge in my quest to reach the peak.”  How do you define work-life balance?  Why is it difficult to achieve equilibrium between the two?

The term “work/life balance” first appeared in the 1970’s.  The expression means having equilibrium among all the priorities in your life.  It is interesting to note that this state of balance differs from person to person.  However, if there is little or no balance over an extended period of time, the vast majority of people experience stress and, eventually, burnout.

Today’s intense, competitive business climate has created corporate cultures that demand more and more from professionals.  To get ahead, 60 to 70 hour work weeks appear to be the new standard.

Goal setting is also very important on the climb.  Why is mental imagery, or visualization, a key component of successful goal setting?

Visualization allows you to see yourself at some point in the future, while goals offer a road map to reach these visions.  There is nothing more rewarding than having visions, setting goals, launching into action and persisting until you reach your destination.  The key to goal setting is your ability to turn this vision into reality.

Mental imagery is essential to goal setting.  Your ability to see yourself at the point of goal actualization is a key component to successful goal setting.  Goal setting breaks down unless you have great clarity about your vision.

“The last few steps of the climb will be the toughest, yet the most rewarding. They will require mental toughness, commitment, drive, self-discipline, positive attitude, and positive self-image.  It is when you make your final ascent that you will discover your inner strengths.” –F Scott Addis

Why is a positive first impression so important?  What are some tips you can offer our listeners or readers on creating a positive first impression?

The Outs and Ins of Employee Loyalty

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The era of employees signing up to work at a single company for their entire adult lives has long been over.  The importance of differentiating and branding yourself has never been more important.  The best employees have options. They are always on a recruiter’s radar. They often have a resume ready. If your best hope of retaining them is a counteroffer, then you have already lost the war. Consider these ideas if you want to increase your employee retention.

OUT

Helping employees only with their jobs and specific skills to improve productivity.

IN

Helping employees with their lives, which recognizes them as individuals who have needs outside of work.

OUT

Keeping employees at arm’s length and in a strict business relationship. Getting too close clouds your judgment.

IN

Taking the time to know them. Ignore the old advice and become friends. Employees are more likely to be loyal to someone considered a friend.

OUT

Telling employees that promotions are rare, that Jane is never going to retire and to “forget it,” that they will be blocked from transferring elsewhere.

IN

Brainstorming various ways to boost earnings, potential and career options to move within a company.

OUT

Employees nodding their heads like parrots at everything the boss says.

IN

Constructive disagreement, polite dissent, and compromise.

Employee Loyalty

OUT

The rulebook. Everything has a strict procedure and no room for individual deviations or decisions.

Embrace the Chaos

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Are you overworked?  Stressed?  Worried about money, health, family, your job?

Instead of running from the chaos, what if the answer was to embrace it?

Bob Miglani is a senior director at a Fortune 50 company in New York City. He came to the US from India in 1979, and grew up running his family’s Dairy Queen business. He is the author of two books: Embrace The Chaos and Treat Your Customers.

I recently had the opportunity to talk to him about his journey from “overwhelmed” to “embracing the chaos.”

You cannot control the chaos.  You can control you. -Bob Miglani

 

The very first chapter of your new book starts with a powerful statement:  “You cannot control the chaos.  You can control you.”  A business trip back to India taught you this in a fresh way.  What’s the story of how chaos in India influenced this book?

There was a period of my life where I was stuck.  With so much uncertainty in my job, career, unpredictability of life and the speed of it all made me freeze.  I looked to the future, and every path in front of me looked worse than the other.

9781609948252It was a chance invitation to India that led me to rediscover how to move forward when we’re faced with so much uncertainty.

India is full of uncertainty and unpredictability.  Go to a business meeting, travel on the dilapidated roads or visit a tourist destination and things have a way of going wrong.  It’s easy to find yourself in a place where you have no control and everything seems to be falling apart.

There were a few times that this occurred to me, which I talk about in my book.  It was after these events that I came to this profound realization that so much of our stress and anxiety about the future rests on this perceived notion that we have control over everything.  But the truth is that we don’t.  We can’t control our customers, our bosses or our colleagues.  I have a tough enough time trying to control my kids; so to think that I can possibly control all these other aspects of life is fruitless.

We should stop trying to control those things because that’s what causes us stress and worry about the future. Instead, we should try to control ourselves – our thoughts and our actions. Taking action and moving forward in life gives us that certainty.  That’s what I learned from India, where I met so many others who were working, engaging and living fully.

Bob Miglani

Usually we do everything in our power to create a planned, organized life.  And yet life doesn’t work that way.  Accepting and adapting to circumstances beyond our control is another area you explore in your book.  How do you develop that mindset?

When things don’t go according to plan is often the time when we grow the most because we rediscover the resiliency that we have deep inside of ourselves.  Understanding that for true growth to happen in our business, in our relationships and in our lives, we have to let go of our notion of a perfect plan.  We have to shift our thinking and our own skills rather than direct attention to the problem that might have occurred.

Learning to develop that mindset isn’t easy, but it is possible. One way to cultivate acceptance is to put ourselves in challenging situations, either by setting hard-to-reach goals or taking on tough assignments or projects.  What this does is force us to realize that our actions are what matters, what we did when we faced uncertainty, not that we fought the change but how we adapted to the change.

Would you share one of the stories from your book?  I immediately think about you catching the bus with your cousin, Vivek.  What did that teach you?

I was in India with my cousin Vivek, and I had asked him to take me on a typical bus that he takes to work because I wanted to do what the locals do: take a bus to work.  On my insistence, he agreed.

While we were waiting for the bus, I heard him say, ”OK. Start running.”  I looked over to my right and saw this completely full bus barreling down the dirt road.  Passengers were hanging to the sides of the bus using their fingernails and sometimes parts of the arms inside the window.  The bus driver had no intention of stopping as there was simply no room.  So what people do is to run along and somehow wedge themselves into the huge pile on the bus.

There’s no way I was getting on that bus, I thought.  It was just too full.  There had to be a bus that was less full; so I’d wait for the next one.