As much as buzz may generate hype around “secrets” of high performance, I have found that best practices that help you gain visibility as “The Person to Watch” is more about discipline in action than the divulging of any secret.
Ask yourself how much you:
Track Timelines and Deadlines.
I know that you may work with projects that are lengthy and have long vesting cycles, but this doesn’t mean that timelines don’t exist or that deadlines may constantly shift downstream. Some professionals brand themselves with a promise to respond to phone calls and emails within 24 hours. If this is too demanding for those of you who travel a lot or have personal priorities that aren’t conducive to a tight turnaround time. You can adjust your personal response time accordingly, but do hold yourself accountable to a turnaround time.
When I used to work in the pharmaceutical industry and had a 10-state territory within the western United States, I used to make an effort to respond to calls and emails within 36 hours. Now that I’m raising a child and have less control of time and schedules, I have to develop realistic expectations of what deadlines or timelines I may adhere to.
Focus on Fruitful Interactions.
Too often we seek out those we feel comfortable with, rather than those who may challenge us and take our skills and personal development to the next level…. that means we have to be willing tofeel a little uncomfortable at least at the beginning. This goes for clients, customers, coaches, and any collaborative or co-creative relationships we cultivate in our lives. Getting used to being uncomfortable is a mental muscle that we can train. The more often we practice building bridges with those who may at first brush us off or communicate in a way that we’re not immediately used to, the better we become at crossing that barrier. This also makes us a more valuable, marketable collaborator in the big scheme of our professional journey. Stanford graduate students Sergey Brin and Larry Page claimed to intensely dislike each other at first – but they didn’t let their discomfort around each other blind them to the fact that their intellectual jousting could lead them to co-create a game-changer – like Google, Inc.
Ask More Questions.
Those of us who are in the business of being experts can get trapped into the dangerous mindset of thinking that we know everything, or must act like we know everything. The know-it-all is an exhausting act, and often unpersuasive. The funny thing is that the more questions we ask and the better we become at listening, the more people think we know and the smarter people think we are.
I’ve found that the main requirement to asking more questions is to have an opening in my awareness that there is a lot that I don’t know, and that I will not fully grasp another person’s view unless I ask him or her. One of the benefits of assuming a position of “wonder” and asking more questions is that I can put my performance-ego on the backseat, relax, and enjoy learning about what the other person thinks.
Now more than ever, companies want high performers working for them, and clients want high performers working with them. Framing or re-framing our mindset around time, growth-based relationships, and listening requires consistency in action (discipline). You may find that delivering high performance may be as philosophically simple as “chop wood, bring water”.