“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:
A superior ability that other people notice and value
Love doing it and want to do it as much as possible
Energizing for you and others around you
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.
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?
Mark, it’s great to have a chance to talk with you as everyone is thinking about New Year’s resolutions: how to make them, but more importantly, how to keep them. Your book is a blueprint for success and is packed with principles, ideas, methods, and specific actions all designed to change your life. We can’t cover even a fraction of them, but I want to ask you about just a few.
“The best leaders keep their minds positively focused.” –Mark Divine
Let’s start with visualization. You put it this way: “Visualize Powerfully.” How do you personally visualize your goals and your success?
I learned in the SEALs the importance of winning the mission (goal) in my mind before stepping off the ramp into the dark of the night.
What this means for me is a three step process:
Go after well defined targets
First, I ensure that the targets I go after are the right targets and are super well defined so I don’t waste valuable time and energy chasing impossible dreams or improbable projects. In the past I often had poorly defined new year goals that quickly fell by the wayside. That happened because they were the wrong targets, or poorly defined to begin with. I outline a powerful process for preventing this and selecting the right targets in my book.
Imagine what victory looks like
Second, I imagine what victory looks like for my target / goal. I see it as clearly and with as much detail as possible in my mind’s eye. In fact I have built an imaginary training space I call my ‘Mind Gym’ where I do this inner work. In the gym I see the outcomes of the goal, see myself achieving it and what my life is like after. I see myself as the type of person who CAN achieve the goal and possessing all the skills and knowledge necessary to crush it.
Review your goals daily
Third, I visit my mind gym daily to review the visualization while tackling the tasks and preliminary steps toward accomplishing the goal. This strengthens the image and eventually leads to greater confidence and certainty of mission success.
“Decisiveness is a must for anyone seeking to gain momentum toward their critical targets.” –Mark Divine
You talk about the importance of breathing in your book. Why is it so important and would you share one of your breathing exercises?
The Benefits of Deep Breathing
In a firefight or any intense situation, I learned to perform better by controlling my physiology and psychology. The key was learning how to breathe more powerfully. It is the first and most important of what I call the ‘big four of mental toughness’ skills. Deep diaphragmatic breathing, through the nose, brings two immediate and critical benefits for mission success:
First, It is a stress release mechanism because it stimulates the automatic nervous system’s calming function. We are riddled with stressors coming at us from all angles, many self-imposed, and this breathing technique slows down our heart rate, calms our body and allows us to get back in control of our physiology so we can direct it towards performance.
Second, it centers us by narrowing the range of our critical mind’s thought patterns. The concentration required to breathe deeply means you are now focusing on health and stress release. This triggers positive feelings and thoughts, and the mind slows down so we can direct it towards the important tasks leading to success.
The training technique is simple, called the ‘Three part breath.’ Begin by exhaling all the air from your lungs, then inhale deep into your belly . . . your belly will move out. When the lower part of your lungs are full (your belly is ‘full’), then activate your diaphragm to fill the middle of your lungs. When that is full, then use your upper chest to fill the top of the lungs. The exhale is then done in reverse order, and the whole breath cycle should be a five count inhale and five count exhale. Over time you will do this naturally and unconsciously in one step, versus three steps. It will help you stay positively focused on your important goals in 2014 AND have great benefit for your overall health and peace of mind.
Procrastination is not inherently evil. There may be benefits to procrastination. Before ending procrastination for good, make sure you understand why you are delaying in the first place.
Why do we procrastinate?
No commitment. You realize after waiting a period of time that you aren’t fully committed to the goal. Better to know before you spend hours and hours on it, then abandon it.
Bad idea. It may be that you realize it’s a bad idea or that there is another way to accomplish something.
Too many goals. Maybe you put it aside in favor of something else or you have competing priorities.
Laziness. You look at your last week and realize that you have no excuse. You are just lazy. A sloth.
Exhaustion. You are physically and mentally spent doing other things, and you don’t start because your tank is running on empty.
Fear of failure. By not starting, you don’t finish and therefore reduce your risk of failure. After all, if you finish, everyone will see the end result and judge it. Rather than risk that, you never begin.
People seem to be motivated by one of two forces. Either toward or against.
Both can be equally powerful motivators, but one seems to last.
Why are you in motion?
When I interview people for a job, I often ask questions about how the individual made career decisions. Some job changes were motivated by moving AWAY from something—a bad boss, a negative work environment, low pay. Other people make a change to move TOWARD something—a new opportunity, the ability to make a bigger impact, a better use of talent.
Though it’s not scientific validation, I’ve found that the people moving TOWARD the new opportunity are more successful, happier, and continue on an upward career path. These people are energized by the future, by what’s to come, by what’s possible.
Contrast that with the people moving AWAY from a job. It seems that the very same things that they didn’t like about the one job magically seemed to follow them to the next!