This week I had a very interesting lunch meeting with one of our executive clients in London. She usually likes to challenge me and I usually try to make some provocative statements to challenge her thinking as well. After the typical chat about business, politics (can’t avoid it currently), and life she asked me a question, "Why do you think business professionals struggle to make their own high performance a top priority?”
This is a great question and one that we often discuss inside Tignum. Knowing how much our clients want to make a big impact in their world, it almost seems counterintuitive.
As usual, there isn’t a one-size-fits-all answer to complex stuff - and human performance itself is complex. For some people it may be the simple lack of belief that they can actually get better. For others it may be the fear of the discomfort that they may experience by changing their habits, their way of working, and their way of living. For some it may be a lack of knowledge of what to do and an insecurity with asking for help - until they finally crash. For others, it may be an insecurity in actually acknowledging that they are not as good as they wish they were. For some it could be that it is a complacency syndrome we call the “stop getting better syndrome”. They have risen up through the ranks and landed in a very senior position and now as they rest on their laurels, they falsely believe that there is no need to continue to improve. For others it is the overwhelmed syndrome which we call the “staying afloat syndrome”. In their new position, the load, scope, responsibilities, and complexity have increased so much that they are running from fire to fire without ever refilling their personal fire truck with water or fuel. There simply is no energy left for self-improvement.
As I shared all of these unique reasons (some of which add upon each other), we discussed how sad and even sometimes dangerous this is. When Marshall Goldsmith wrote: “What Got You Here Won’t Get You There”, he probably wasn’t thinking about Sustainable High Performance habits. But it certainly applies.
For most top athletes, constantly working on all elements of their performance is probably non-negotiable. They look for all the little 1-percenters that can help them sharpen their performance - technical, tactical, and also functional (e.g, how their body and brain work under pressure and fatigue). The term aggregation of marginal gains is often used. They never stop trying to get better. As the world’s number 1 golfer, Jason Day, puts it, “The one thing I focus on is to get better each and every week. If I can focus on that rather on all the other stuff, if I can make sure I am fully involved in that process, then I know all the other stuff will be taken care of.”
Getting better is a choice. It’s a choice that is linked to a high performance mindset which is supported by the energy, resilience, and mental agility needed to constantly push the envelope of performance. It is also a choice to be vulnerable, to face the truth, to be willing to constantly recreate yourself, and to ask for support when you need it.
As always - we would love to hear how you make sure you don’t stop getting better.
By Jogi Rippel
CEO // Tignum