Peak Performance Considerations Even If You’re “Settled In”

Hard work in a focused and intentional way is, in the end, what distinguishes those who achieve remarkable results.

Gary Pulsipher Joplin portrait

Gary Pulsipher is a true “Tar” of industry, a friend, and a life-long learner. Gary and I have had many meaningful conversations about leadership and personal growth and his humble way of engaging those he leads prompted my request for his help in blogging.  He currently leads the Mercy Joplin Health ministry in SW Missouri and Kansas.

I’ve had the opportunity recently to review two books on the topic of ‘peak’ performance. Peak by Anders Ericsson; and Talent is Overrated by Geoff Colvin discuss and challenge whether some people are born with innate talents, while the rest of us are left to struggle.

Conclusions reached by two well-regarded authors show that while some people certainly  appear to have strong skills and abilities, those who truly excel are the ones who engage in deliberate practice over a period of  many years.

Hard work in a focused and intentional way is, in the end, what distinguishes those who achieve remarkable results.

Further, most truly exceptional performers start from a very young age to practice and perfect their crafts.  Examples include Tiger Woods and Mozart.  It seems that while the brain and body are developing in the young, tremendous progress can be made.

However, researchers have also proven that people of all ages, when engaged in a focused improvement plan with intentional practice and feedback, achieve amazing results.  So there’s hope – even for those of us who are aging and somewhat set in our ways.

One of my favorite Edwin Markham poems:

We are blind until we see, that in the human plan

Nothing is worth the making, if it does not make the man

Why build these cities glorious, if man un-builded goes,

In vain we build the world unless the builder also grows. 

So the challenge, as we age and become comfortable, is to continue to push for growth and development.

 

I would be interested in hearing from you:

Have you found any good ways to make sure you’re growing in your own excellence at work?

“Super Trouper isn’t a Person”

 

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Of the three great motivations: coping, validating my identity, or other-centeredness; which one are you?

Kudos to a great mentor, friend and psychotherapist, Joe Gross.  He was a huge fan of following the “why”. Dr. Gross would often explain that if we understand the motivation then we can deal with the energy behind it.

When the idea that “what’s in it for me?” is expanded to include my need to be respected as a contributor, essential to someone else’s life, or valued as a person then our purpose for being energized into society becomes wrought with pathways toward becoming useful to others.

But here is an even deeper truth.  The greatest paradigm of this thought is unexperienced even in the validation of one’s own self-worth.  What if our “why” reached beyond the stars and into an aspect of value that permeates relationships?  Being validated as a good speaker on the public stage pales to being a portion of a process that succeeds in giving a modest hope for life to a desperately poor or ill individual, or advocating for change from a quiet place in the universe where we are not in the spotlight but still remain essential to the greater good.

We will never succeed in promoting every life to the place of honor at the figurative table – it is a perfectly failed proposition.  What we can do is give in to the ideal that leaders who hold perceived positions of prestige are propped up by the sinew, bone and spirit of the true sowers of the harvest.  If you have a culture that holds success to be the Super Trouper brand spotlight moment our parents told us all that we deserve then you are growing a large group of disenfranchised employees.

A leader’s truest function is connecting the success of their people with reason and purpose associated with the greater good of the community we serve. Being the figurative Super Trouper is actually doing just that – shining light on other people.

Do you spend time connecting people with their why?  Do you have a good vision of your own reason for working? 

May I Call the Sun a Space Heater?

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In 2006 Pluto became a “dwarf planet”.  It just sat there, completely voiceless and flat out became something different than millions of Earthlings previously believed it to be.  The new reality did not change Pluto but in many ways it served to disrupt the normal thinking about what many of us took for granted regarding what we used to believed that we all knew together.

A big part of how we experience social safety is having common understanding about what we call things.  Changing the way a thing is called isn’t always bad but it is almost always met with resistance when it changes the meaning. It must have been an odd evolution of thinking that finally integrated huge conceptual shifts of mind like gravity or the idea of a spherical Earth into the normal world of safe, common truth.  Many people did not survive it.

This proposition could proffer a moment to ponder.  In a world where renaming things seems to be a rampant solution to every small cultural incongruence, are there some things that are best left sacred (i.e. off limits for change)?  Can we just rename, re-catagorize, and reconfigure old ideas into new meanings because we want to?

So, for instance, are there things you might prefer that people recognize about you that are not available for creative interpretations in meaning? What? Are we safer in community when some things are sacred?

 

 

 

 

 

Sit By Me

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What are your best memories of being affirmed?  Can you easily recreate these memories today?

I  imagine we all share a childhood memory of walking into a room full of other children, all of whom are already engaged in laughing and learning, not knowing if we belonged, where we should go, what we should do;  and then, hearing a redeeming voice of hope penetrating the chaos with, “Hey! Sit by me!”

To this day it is still one of the most basic affirmations I receive from my friends, or even from just the friendliest person in the room.  These three words when spoken into the fear and mystery of the unknown can convey acceptance, safety, freedom, power, trust and a whole bucket of good things that are shared in acceptance.

It is one of the relaxed and simple joys of married life that I always have a person who will sit beside me.

Beside me.

Relationship skills and group success are finding a renewed interest in many recent studies.  There is strong focus on how to create healthy relationships at work because we can now validate that groups which trust and feel safe with each other do better work, faster.  Being inspired among people who are accepting and willing to add their creativity to yours without the fear of stealing ideas, or being hyper-critical is the most productive type of group we can encourage. Leaders who spend their time thinking about how to quickly create safe teams are the leaders of our future.

It would be awesome if our personal understanding of our need for inclusion in others’ lives drove our behavior.  What if our longing for relationships shaped how we make it easier for others to relate to us?   How can we simplify safety in meetings? How can we provide for and nurture the necessarily intense moments where we must discern creative pathways of growth for our teams?  Positive affirmations and safety sit hopefully at the front of each of these conversations.  Hope that your mind can be freely open to mine is the essential building block for the greater conscience that proffers brilliance.

Nowadays I’m taken to almost always saying, “Sit by me” when we have a board meeting or any large group.  Try it. It’s an easy and humorous first step to reconnecting to your safe, inner child.

 

Autonomy?

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In 2012 Ezekiel Emanuel, MD published his article Physician Autonomy and Health Care Reform, in JAMAIt was in response to the flurry of concerns among American doctors that in the new light of the ACA they felt under attack and that they were losing control.

Throughout the last few years of conversations with executives and physicians have had many similarities but the most consistent is the shared theme of loss of autonomy.  One great observation is that fear of loss is undefined in its most generic form.  For some it is loss of relationships, others see loss of control over their practice, decision making, contracts, income, or almost any number of individual motivations on which expectations were shattered.

Humbly, I submit to Dr. Emanual that he promotes a new definition of autonomy that subdues essential freedom and pushed an agenda of control in the guise of collaboration.  People are always smart enough to know when freedom is being restrained.

The one constant that we know is that in whatever form we define autonomy it remains one of the key drivers for personal satisfaction in our work.  Other characteristics of great places to work dovetail from the fundamental ownership of one’s self.  For instance, loyalty can only come from the essential nature of giving freely out of a feeling of owning that part of our autonomy.  Any form of allegiance born from an environment stripped of personal freedom falls into the category of coercion.

When do you feel most free?  What things do you give to others best from your sense of freedom and autonomy? How do you give autonomy back to the people who work for you?