5 Fundamentals to Achieve Peak Performance

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?

Develop the Resilience You Need to Succeed

Getting Stronger

What happens when you get a stress management expert, a successful entrepreneur, and a Navy SEAL together to write a book? You end up with Stronger: Develop the Resilience You Need to Succeed, a powerful new resource that will help you better thrive under pressure. The three authors have such varied experience that, when combined, works magnificently. The result is a powerful book that will help you not only understand resilience but learn how to build it for yourself.

Two of the authors, George Everly and Dennis McCormack, collaborated to answer some of my questions and to give you a glimpse into the power of resilience. Dr. Everly is one of the founding fathers of modern stress management. He teaches at Johns Hopkins and Loyola University of Maryland. Dennis McCormack is one of the original Navy SEALS. He pioneered SEAL combat doctrine and tactics in Vietnam.

 

“Resilience is the ability to personally rebound from adversity.”

 

The Single Most Powerful Factor to Your Potential 

You call personal resilience the single most powerful factor to realize your potential. Is resilience something you are born with or can develop?

While for some, resilience may be a trait they are born with, for most of us resilience is learned…and that’s the great news! Recent research suggests that it is NOT age dependent either. So we can learn to be resilient at ANY age.

 

“Optimism is more than a belief, it’s a mandate for change.”

 

5 Factors of Personal Resilience

You reference 5 factors of personal resilience. The first is active optimism. What’s the difference between active and passive optimism? How do you increase it?

Great question. People who are passively optimistic believe things will turn out well, but they wait for such things to occur. Actively optimistic people believe things will turn out well because they are decisive and action-oriented. In short, they MAKE things turn out well. They take advantage of the self-fulfilling prophecy effect. When they fail, they see that failure as a temporary setback. Regarding the issue of leadership, whom would you rather follow, someone who waits for good things to happen, or someone who makes good things happen?

As for increasing active optimism, both in yourself and others, follow this principle: Active optimism is fostered in an environment which is supportive, instructive, and forgiving; one that sees failure as a stepping stone to success.

Avoid toxic devaluing environments. When failure does occur, and it will, understand failure is what you did, not who you are. Learn from it. You will be stronger next time!

 

“The optimist always has the capacity to look forward to another day.”

 

5 Core Factors of Personal Resilience

  1. Help people withstand adversity.
  2. Help people make good decisions under pressure.
  3. Motivate people to achieve peak performance.
  4. Allow people to bounce back quickly and effectively even when they are temporarily knocked down.
  5. Serve as important features in determining satisfaction in life and overall happiness.

 

3 Steps to Manage Impulsive Urges 

Achieving Peak Performance by Conquering the 7 Summits of Sales

Climbing to the Top

  • What’s the best formula for setting goals?
  • How do I prepare and truly commit to achieving them?
  • What about perseverance?
  • How do I overcome resistance?

Someone wisely once told me that to achieve something great, “Find the person who has already climbed the mountain.”  In this case, I found someone who literally has climbed mountains.  Susan Ershler has successfully climbed the elite Seven Summits and is a sought-after international speaker who has served in leadership positions for Fortune 500 companies for more than twenty years.  She is also the author of  CONQUERING THE SEVEN SUMMITS OF SALES: From Everest To Every Business, Achieving Peak Performance

 

How to Set Goals

You have a new formula for setting goals.  It’s not the SMART model, it’s the CLIMB model.  Would you share that with us?

It all begins with a well-defined vision and a set of clearly defined goals. The CLIMB system we developed on our journey to becoming top performers will provide you with a structured approach to goal setting that is both disciplined and focused.

C – Concise:  Your goals must be specific, quantifiable, actionable, and support your vision.

L – Levelheaded:  Your vision and goals must be realistic and attainable based on your current skills and level of professional development.

I – Integrated:  Your goals must be related, relevant, and integrated with your vision.

M – Measurable:  You must hold yourself accountable by using objective metrics to track your progress against goals. You must “measure the mountain.”

B – Big:  Being realistic doesn’t mean thinking small. Be bold and ambitious in projecting your future. Think Big!

 

“By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.” -Ben Franklin

Everest Base Camp Sue

The Importance of Preparation

Let’s talk about preparation.  Obviously preparing for a climb elevates it to a life or death activity.  How have you used what you learned in climbing about preparation in other areas like sales or goals?
No BIG mountain is scaled in a single climb. No quota or BIG business objective is achieved in a single day. You must step away from the business and create a detailed roadmap that delineates every step of your journey and includes metrics to measure success along the way.

If we don’t have a plan in writing, we have a tendency to react to disruptive things, for example like constant email. We need to make sure we focus on the important activities that will lead us to success, reviewing our plan on a daily basis.

 

The Power of Commitment

Commitment.  Many talk a good game.  You may believe them, but then they quit before they even get going.  How do you help people truly commit?

Achieving peak performance, both personally and professionally, can dramatically change our lives. So once we have a vision we must commit to achieving it.  Peak performers say, “I will” not “I will try.”  For example, if you want to climb a mountain or run a marathon, sign up, pay the fee and then work backwards.  In climbing, I had to visualize myself on the summit of Everest – that was my vision in advance for years.  In business, I viewed myself as a vice president in the Fortune 500 world for years before I achieved that title.  Big visions can take years to achieve, but say, “I will do it” and never give up.

 

“Peak performers say I will, not I will try.”

The 3 Most Limiting Words

 

“That’s just me.”

She said it definitively in that way people dismiss a question.  Tossing her hair with a quick flip, she signaled to the small group that there would be no discussion.

I’m not much of an eavesdropper.  I normally am absorbed in my own work.  But I was sitting in this little café only a few feet away.

I think it was her manager who sat down at the table, motioning to her to sit down.  The discussion was about customer complaints and her abrupt communication style.  Customers felt that she was dismissive and perhaps slightly arrogant.  At the same time, she received high marks for her product knowledge.

“That’s just me,” she said again, before flatly adding, “I get frustrated and impatient.  But I do know what to do.”

That’s Just Me.

For a moment, I bought it.  After all, you can’t really fight it if that is really who you are.

But then I stopped myself as I thought about those words.

Instead of thinking about ways to grow, she had unknowingly slammed the door shut, imprisoning herself in a world much smaller than only a few moments ago.

One of the greatest attributes of people is the ability to grow, to change, to develop.  Who I was five years ago is not who I am today.  That incredible quality, the ability to change who we are defies those three words.

 

Only you have the power to determine whether your future mimics your past. -Skip Prichard

 

Change the Words = Change the Future

Personal responsibility demands more.  Three better words than, “That’s just me,” are, “I can change.”  And where does the power to change begin?  In the mind.

You can determine whether you are the same tomorrow as you are today.

You can decide whether you want to have a future that mimics the present.

I didn’t interrupt or listen to more of the conversation.  I slipped away, but with a lesson.

We are all wired certain ways.  We cannot change everything about ourselves.  But we do have more power than we think to mold the future.

I may not have said those three words that day, but often I have limited myself in the same way.  Instead of shifting blame to others or outside circumstances, how can I take more responsibility for the future and make it happen?

 

“Yesterday is gone. Tomorrow has not yet come. We have only today. Let us begin.” -Mother Teresa

 

“The future depends on what you do today.” -Gandhi

 

“The past cannot be changed. The future is yet in your power.” Mary Pickford

 

 

 

 

 

Reaching Your Peak Performance

“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?