If we were to ask 100 people to think and talk about “performance”, I’d be interested to know what percentage of that thinking and talking would focus on performance in the moment versus performance over the long-term.
More often than not, we talk about the performance, achieving peak performance, putting on a performance. But there is another format of potent performance. That which happens over time – which can produce equally stellar results, and without the pressure that comes with performance in the moment.
A new thought about performance
We don’t often think that thought. It’s all about great days and exceptional performances. Not “good enough” performance over time.
But for a moment, let’s play with the idea that it’s not only about one-time stand-out performance:
- Imagine any current project or area of life in which you want to excel.
- And now apply to that area “an average day” (that is: good enough, but otherwise unexceptional).
- And imagine that average day performed CONSISTENTLY over a period of time.
- What results might that achieve for you and your project?
You might get fit. You might write that book. You might put that website live. You might develop that new service. You might improve that relationship. You might get your project off the ground.
Notice the power of your accumulative effort.
And remind yourself that this is performance too.
Like going to the gym: I can have a massive one-off session on any given day, but I’m not going to see any outlandish gains immediately after that workout, compared to the me that walked into the gym that morning.
But if I workout regularly a few times a week, even working at just 50% of the levels of my massive one-off session, I’m going to significant positive impact after just a few days.
A better definition of performance
What’s your definition of performance? Here’s mine:
“Achieving and succeeding above and beyond personally
accepted standards, consistently and over the long term.”
Whatever your definition of performance, I invite you to find ways to include these ideas of consistency and sustainability. Here are a few thoughts to help you do that:
- Slow down. The feeling of needing to be at peak performance is so very often driven by a full plate and having more to do than we have time for. The antidote to that is to slow down which reminds us that there’s always “too much to do” – but hardly any of that “too much” is priority work. In a slow moment, there is all the time we want – we just need to determine what to give it to.
- Bring the timeline up a level or two. It’s easy to get caught-up in the whirl of a day. So bring your timeline up to the level of the week, the month and the quarter. What are the projects and targets that come to mind, when thinking on this timescale? And given this more expansive timeline, what small accumulative efforts could you share-out among the days to get the project done?
- Drop the need to be exceptional. Wherever it’s coming from, drop any need to be continually exceptional. (What a delicious oxymoron that is.) That’s a hang-up that only we are concerned about. The rest of the world really doesn’t care. But what the world will notice is the output and creation of our accumulative average day. Focus on that.
- Introduce routine. Incorporate your “average day” fully into your routine. Have it be a natural part of your day-to-day, so that it’s a process you can lean on. Not something that is determined by whether you remember to or not; or whether your mood feels like it or not; or whether you have time for it or not. Weave your average-day-routines into your … average day!
- Focus only on Action #1. Nothing gets us started like action! But notice how we can hold tasks and projects in mind in a way that makes them seem far bigger than they actually are. We start thinking about what’s involved – and before we know it, we’re into a cascade of (heavy) thoughts of what’s next … and then, and then, and then, and then. Instead, hold only Action #1 in mind. Focus on that. And make it the smallest first action you can possibly think of.
The accumulative power of an average day
Take a moment now to slow down on your current projects. And notice that “good enough” is almost always good enough (and often better!), when applied over the long term.
What average day do you have planned for tomorrow?