Re-defining high performance


Re-defining high performance

Being involved with groups of people who collectively achieve remarkable performance is one of life’s joys. But all too quickly the experience is pushed to memory. Everyone moves forward, frustrated that the present is not quite as good as the memory of ‘that moment’. Despite all the literature and research on creating high-performing individuals and teams, it is a wonder how creating the ideal culture of high performance seems to be as elusive as cracking the code to the Enigma encryption machine.

The frequently quoted aspects of creating a high-performance team are:

  • Having a clear vision of where they are headed and what they want to accomplish
  • Are excited about that vision because they took part in creating it
  • Act from clearly defined priorities
  • Have clear measures of success and receive feedback about how they’re doing
  • Maintain open communication and positive relationships with each other
  • Identify and solve problems
  • Make decisions when and where they occur
  • Successfully manage conflict
  • Share leadership responsibilities
  • Participate in productive meetings
  • Have clearly defined roles and work procedures
  • Cooperate cross-functionally

That’s a lot of boxes to tick! That’s a lot that can go wrong. How do you maintain focus on every aspect? When I was a young sports’ coach learning my trade, I would often find myself overwhelmed with communicating the range of technical and tactical elements (related to the long list above), which would make all the difference to an individual or a team. The result was an overload of information, the majority of which was totally redundant, often resulting in me becoming frustrated, players over-thinking and becoming confused and afraid of making errors. We have this awful tendency to over-complicate things. 

Creating a high performing team is essentially about three main things:

Your ability to commit and focus on the present moment

As Mahatma Gandhi said, “The future depends on what you do today.” Your mind is the distraction from the present. Living either in the past or the future acheives nothing. Focus on doing. Focus on the experience of the present moment. You cannot think your way to being a CEO or becoming an astronaut. The only way you do that is… by doing it; moment to moment, day to day, week to week. This is something that takes a lot of practice, patience and self-awareness.

Work towards a purpose individually and collectively (by following number 1)

A common mis-conception of commiting to the present, is that people meander aimlessly through life. Connect with your passion. Connect with a purpose. Find your path. Then commit 100% by focusing on what you can do NOW. Align your every action with what that purpose is. With commitment comes acceptance. When things seem to go awry, accept the moment as if you chose it to happen, recognising that you are part of a bigger whole and that little can be achieved on your own. Yes, even those who you may perceive as competitors, whether in business, sport or life are all part of the same team. We are all playing the game of life. We are not competitors, we are team mates.

Consistent repetition (of points 1 and 2)

You see, high-performance is not about that single outstanding moment of excellence. No one simply wakes up and becomes a high-performing tennis player, ready to win a Grand Slam. It is about your ability to consitently repeat your commitment to the present moment in a manner, which reflects your purpose. This is how people seem to rise above others around them. This is how they seem to build an aura of invincibility. When groups of people are able to do this it is truly magical.