Performance – defined as the execution or accomplishment of work, tasks, etc., or the manner or efficiency with which you fulfill your intended purpose – is something that we all deal with on a daily basis but, barring the odd performance review, seldom measure and monitor. When you step back and take a look, are you completely satisfied with how you’re performing in all areas of your life? Do you feel like you’re firing on all cylinders or is there something you’d like to improve? If you’re like most people, there’s at least one area of your life in which you think you’re under performing and which you’d like to further develop.
The first step towards improving performance – either in your personal life or in your organization – is to identify what’s currently hampering your performance. Over the years, research and observation have led me to believe that there are two primary reasons that people fail to maximize performance in any given area of their life – namely, lack of information and tools, and fear.
You don’t know what you don’t know. While you may know that engagement positively correlates to productivity and therefore, to profits, you may not know how to improve engagement; you may be unaware of the importance of planning and what makes for effective goal setting; your time management or networking skills might need some help; or you may just need a checklist, a new app, or a better calendar system. All of these are examples of lack of information and tools. They can generally be resolved by appropriate education, and most professional development courses focus on them.
Fear is the other major factor that hampers performance and, arguably, is the most critical element to master if you want to maximize performance. The fears that hold you back can originate in any area of life. You may over commit to social engagements because you’re afraid of what friends will think of you if you say no. Fear of not being smart enough may stop you from volunteering for complex projects at work or applying for a new position. Fear of the judgment of spiritual authorities or of family may dictate your relationship choices. You may stay in a job that is no longer fulfilling because you’re afraid that you won’t be able to make enough money in that new career that you would really love. Fear of not being physically healthy enough or attractive enough may prevent you from joining new recreational activities and meeting new people.
Becoming aware of what’s holding you back from your desired performance allows you to address it. If a lack of information and tools is your problem, read a book, take a course, or get a mentor. Become a lifelong learner. It’s the best way to constantly expand your knowledge and gain new tools. If fear is what’s hampering your performance, consider registering for a relevant seminar, or working with a coach or counsellor who can help you with your specific challenge. Investing in yourself pays the greatest dividends and builds a foundation that supports your growth towards maximum performance. And you can’t maximize your life without maximizing performance.