What is high performance?
By Craig Johns
It was a great, but simple, question “What is high performance?” asked by someone that I met at @Media Stables #MeetTheMedia event and also at the Wellbeing at Work summit in Sydney recently.
A lot of people struggle to clearly define the term “high performance” and I feel its use has been diluted significantly over the past decade.
Being high performance is not just constrained to sport it can exist in many areas of life whether it be leadership, dance, music, customer service and many other areas in life. Let’s use a sport example to start with.
If you were to get Charles Le Clerc, a Formula 1 driver, to drive first a Toyota Camry and second a Ferrari at the absolute best of their ability on a race track, one car would be high performance and the other would just average performance.
Both cars have four wheels, have a chassis, have an engine, have breaks, have a steering wheel, etc… They both have have mastered the 99%ers. One company was just prepared to take the risk and go all in to the 1%ers while mastering the 99%ers.
Let’s take Charles and get him to drive the same Toyota Camry against John a father who drives his car every day to work and got them to drive the car to the best of their ability on a race track, one would showcase high performance driving and the other wouldn’t.
Like many things in life it has been used as a marketing tool to foster greater mediocrity or to give people a feel good perception and improved performance rather than actual achieve high performance.
What most people describe as high performance habits or being high performance is in fact just performing well.
High performance is not just finishing the race by applying the basics really well. It’s being in contention to win the race if not winning the race.
How does your current performance affect, both positive and negative, your gravity of leadership?
Before I get to how I define high performance, let’s look at how it is described in the dictionary. “Designed to perform at high standards” and being “Better, faster or more efficient than others”
Based on these definitions, it can’t just be doing the basics it an extremely high level. There is something else.
High performance is a steep mountain top that requires a lot of dedication, hard work and ingenuity to get to and the ridge is so small that you can quite easily fall off either side. Either a healthy drop in performance or an unhealthy drop that has negative consequences.
The rewards in business, sport, life and what ever you devote yourself to can be very high when you get into a high performance state, but it can also go wrong if you don’t quite get the recipe right.
As a leader it is ok not to be achieving high performance all the time, in fact it is healthy.
Achieving and sustaining high performance takes a lot of mental, emotional and physical focus, so you need time where it’s ok to just be in a performance or even non-performance mode to take the pressure off and allow the body to recharge and refocus.
At times life requires us to just get things done. It can be a bit messy. It can be far from perfect. You just have to get things done while you neglect your health, energy, routines, focusing your attention and other important elements to being a great leader.
We quite often here people saying it’s all about the 1%ers to achieve a high level of success. An interesting approach as it means focusing on really advanced skills and techniques, which are highly dependent on mastering foundational and moderately advanced skills to a high level first.
Then there are people that suggest it’s all about mastering the basics or fundamentals, otherwise known as the 99%ers. This will get you to high level of performance but doesn’t mean you will be high performance.
There is still a question whether all attributes of high performance can be trained or does nature, your DNA, play a big part?
After working in High Performance Sport and business for the past 26 years, let’s look at how I consider different levels of performance:
Non-Performance – not trying to improve
Low Performance – trying to do the 1%ers without first developing the 99% (fundamentals)
Average Performance – Randomly giving everything and anything a go.
Performance – doing the 99% (fundamentals) well but not being prepared to do the hard work, taking the risk or having the talent to step into the world of 1%ers and master them.
High Performance – Producing world-class results by first mastering the 99% (fundamentals) and then persistently seeking and fine tuning the 1%ers.
To achieve and consistently achieve a high performance state or mode of being, you first must lay a solids foundation, consistently maintain it and then seek and fine tune the 1%ers.
High performance leadership requires a lot of dedication, determination, grit and patience along with It accountability and guidance. Who are the people in your team or someone external who can hold you accountable, provide you with appropriate feedback and the inspiration to keep improving?
When it comes to your gravity of leadership, what 99%ers do you need to master first, every day, before you devote time to the 1%ers so you can continue to move towards high performance?
Craig is a 10x National Champion, International coach and CEO turned high performance leadership expert, international speaker and and Inspiring Great Leaders Podcast host.
He is the CEO & Managing Partner of Speakers Institute Corporate, a high performance leadership expert, and a leadership, high performance and workplace culture keynote speaker.
Learn more about how Craig is working with a diverse team of exceptional human beings to inspire great leaders at www.speakersinstitutecorporate.com.
Book Craig as a Speaker and learn how to become a high performing leader by going to www.craigjohns.com.au for more on the Gravity of Leadership, Break The CEO Code and Atomic Pressure.
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