Tagged: potential

Those Damned Expectations

Peak performance is about paradox. Be intense and stay relaxed at the same time. Play with bravado and humility simultaneously. Be fully trained nearly beyond the bounds of health – and fully rested too.

The bigger picture of peak performance is the same. When we commit to big goals, we can be seduced by the expectations that go with them. We can lose track of the work needed to get there and lose sight of our progress. Both of these diminish our potential. Today, we’ll talk about setting aside expectations and keeping connected to progress.

PERSPECTIVE FOR LONG-TERM DOMINANCE

Perspective makes the experience of pursuing goals more effective and rewarding.

While it’s useful to attack our huge goals and aspire to greater achievement it’s also important to keep things in perspective and to celebrate successes. Let’s say your huge goal is dominance. You want to be the number one company or the number one athlete or have the greatest social impact of any activist in history. If our expectation is achieving that at the next milestone, we are setting ourselves up for frustration. Becoming the Dominant One can feel like trudging forward, but there is a more rewarding, effective road.

A problem with enormous goals like dominance is that they are always in the future until they aren’t. Sometimes we only see dominance in retrospect.

In the meantime, it can be a pretty bleak road where we only see disappointment at not meeting our expectations. Even the victories seem smaller than we want.

But let’s step back for some perspective. What seems disappointing today might have been an unimaginable performance five years ago. Most of the time we don’t see that. Our progress is entangled with end goals and ego. Expectations. We’ve lost sight of how wonderfully we are moving forward, and with that we’ve lost an opportunity to be even more dominant.

CONFIDENCE

Seeing progress gives us access to confidence. When we are bound by expectations, our self-talk might sound like “why is it never good enough?!?!?!” or “of course! Another mistake that puts me behind everyone else.

Freeing ourself from expectations with a bit of perspective, we are free to say “that’s not the level I’m ultimately going for, but it’s so much better than last time.” We give ourselves credit for progress, but there’s something else available. One of the key factors in clutch, dominant performance is confidence or bravado. By giving ourselves credit, we also give ourselves permission to own a higher level of bravado.

Team leaders take note. If your folks have just hit their number or delivered on a deadline, give ample time for celebration. Talking about the bigger goals too soon spoils the fun and prevents the team from locking in their well-earned bravado. It’s also possible that your newly confident team might have bigger, better ideas for what’s possible next.

TINKERING TO OPTIMIZE

Seeing progress also lets us evaluate and see new opportunities. We’ve gained bravado. Now we get to add a dose of humility to shake things up.

True dominance requires tinkering. It requires a paradox of complete immersion in generating momentum toward the goal AND self-awareness of what’s working and what’s not.

Sometimes we get so inside our pursuit of a goal that we lose sight of what it actually takes to succeed. We become reactive instead of strategic. We might take short cuts, sacrificing long-term success for a short-term win. In this moment, we might feel frustrated or drifting or fuzzy about how we’ll ever get where we want to go. It’s at this point that many people give up.

Not you.

By taking a step back and seeing your progress, you can access both the bravado of a champion and the humility that makes a dominant force.

Take an honest look at what’s working and make a comprehensive assessment of what’s needed next. Remember, we don’t always know everything the ultimate goal will require of us. Pausing gives us a chance to notice things like:

Are my assumptions flawed?

What are others doing that might work for me?

What are others doing that might be completely wrong for me…or even them?

How am I enjoying the experience of getting there?

Where can I cultivate a surprising dominant advantage?

We pause. We tinker. Then we do it again.

And through the tinkering, we discover opportunity.

Now go tinker!

I Deserve to be Big

Wishing Well: Little Blog That Deserves to be Big Award

Apparently I deserve a bigger audience, and I say yes please bring it on! Jessica Sweet at Wishing Well has included me in her list of little blogs that deserve to be big. What a nice honor and a fun surprise. This badge is extra incentive to keep sharing my thoughts about peak performance, creativity, pursuing ambitious goals and defying expectations.

Check out the full list over at Wishing Well. Thanks Jessica!

What award are you ready to win? Make one up. Is it 8 Parents Whose Patience Has Yet To Be Acknowledged? Or maybe it’s Entrepreneurs Whose Ideas Funders Should Follow? Or how about 14 People Who Smile Adorably While Jogging? Or is it Courageous Leaders Who Should Be President?

What do you want to be recognized for?

Creating Deep Mastery from Repetition: Problem Solving

Repetition Opens Up Elegant Solutions

This is the fourth and final article about using repetition toward deep mastery. So far, we have explored discipline and expertise and expression. Repetition can take us to an even deeper level when we integrate it with problem solving.

LEVEL 4 – REPETITION CREATES ELEGANT SOLUTIONS

It’s easy to be expressive when things are going right. Things are flowing. We’re in a rhythm using our skills, connecting it to how what we want to express.

Then shit happens.

Have you logged enough repetitions that you can adapt? Level 4 is about getting past challenges.

At first, simply continuing when problems arise is hard. We don’t even know what to do when things go wrong. We get confused. We panic. Most of us need to experience an emergency to know how to get out of one. Pilots use flight simulators for this. They use traditional classroom and book instruction to learn the solutions in different scenarios. Flight simulators make the scenarios real. Their repetition is about learning to stay calm under pressure. They fail and learn from it. In some ways, it’s a repeat of Level 2 – learning the skill of fixing things.

Becoming adept enough to find solutions is good, but the beauty of problem solving is when it goes beyond fixing to elegance and creativity.

Being calm under pressure is valuable. Being creatively calm is invaluable. It’s what lets you land a plane in the Hudson River.

Raw, undirected talent dismisses mistakes. At Level 4 we notice their potential. Creativity is the goal of repetition here. Turning accident to advantage.

This is where Picasso decides it’s a problem to draw a bull the same way over and over again and reduces it to 9 brushstrokes.

This is where Bode Miller skis himself off the downhill race course and uses the netting on the side of the course to ricochet back into contention.

Without comparing myself to Picasso or Miller, I’ve been fortunate to experience this area of Level 4 often. In fact, the entire idea of freestyle at its highest level is to create the biggest problem for ourselves to see if we can elegantly get out of it. Sometimes there is an elegant solution, other times a clumsy mess. The more I give myself big problems to solve, the more elegant solutions show up.

When my team prepares for the world championships, I’m on the lookout for fortunate mistakes. Some of the most memorable planned moments start as mistakes. “Wait, that wasn’t supposed to happen, but it would be cool if we did it on purpose.” We shift course and use repetition to create something fresh out of the mistake.

Many people are uncomfortable in chaos. Most businesses have low tolerance for chaos. They want clarity, a focus on the known, predictability. And they are rarely the businesses known for innovation. Innovative businesses leave space for chaos. Allowing staff to fumble around with new concepts and search for better answers includes a risk of failure and also opens up space for big breakthroughs – seeing new markets, inventing new approaches to treating disease, finding better ways to talk to one’s customers.

The deepest mastery is courageous in its curiosity and experimentation. It doesn’t settle or shy away from the unconventional. It’s about uncharted territory. It is both discerning and playful. While engaging in this level of repetition can feel terrifying, it’s just as likely to be exhilarating and fulfilling.

If discipline is where we become skillful. Expertise is where we become solidly competent. Expression is where we become memorable. This territory of problem solving transcends all of them. This is the level where we have a chance to be legendary.