What’s the key to turning high potential into high performance and results when the heat and pressure are highest?
It’s resilience, and it’s one of the top ten characteristics of great leaders.
Consider how resilience has played a significant part in your life and career.
First, think about the stark contrast in how high pressure situations might have worked out compared to how they did when you were resilient.
On the one hand, you can have:
- Influencing and inspiring others in a way that brings out the best in a full team
Now contrast that with these possibilities:
- Freezing in place
- Rigidity, inflexibility
- Fully flourishing fear
- Expecting the worst and bringing it out in yourself and others
Which experience do you want?
(I won’t wait for your answer. I’m pretty sure I know what it is)
Resilience is the ability to perform at your best. When you’re resilient you’re highly responsive to the situation you actually have rather than the situation you assumed you would experience.
Resilience is most likely, and most effective when you’ve done the learning, preparation and practice required to make great performance and results a realistic possibility in whatever circumstance you encounter.
There are many other examples we could use. Let’s consider one memorable experience from the 2012 Olympics in London.
This example of “Get out of your own way to let your best performance through” occurred in the men’s 10-meter platform diving competition.
First, U.S. diver David Boudia barely made it out of the qualifying rounds.
His early performance earned him the 18th and final spot in the medal round.
Next, the slate was wiped clean of prior scores. Competitors started fresh in the final stretch of the medal round.
Finally, when the pressure was highest, Boudia produced a series of nearly-perfect dives, besting the seemingly unflappable, unbeatable Chinese divers in that particular competition.
The Chinese competitors seemed unable to understand, accept and adapt to having their assumed supremacy (and their expected gold and silver medals) challenged in the final round.
So when they, and other competitors, could not adjust to Boudia’s barrage of near-perfection, they lost the gold medal to him…the man who had almost missed the medal round.
This getting out of your own way business sounds simple enough, right?
But for most people and teams, it’s not.
Why? These are the primary reasons:
This can be a fear of failure, or a fear of success. Or it can be a fear of both.
Either way, fear can be immobilizing.
2. Bad habits or a poor process
Whether because of bad habits or a bad design or implementation, inefficient and unfocused ways of getting things done stack the odds of success against you.
3. Disabling and limit-setting beliefs
You or your team may WANT success.
You may diligently WORK TOWARD success.
But if you don’t BELIEVE you can produce and maintain success, or don’t feel that you “deserve” it, you’re far less likely to achieve it.
It’s like trying to run a race with a 100 lb. weight strapped to your back. That weight…actual or imagined…is a burden your competitors may not be carrying.
4. Expectations that turn out to be wrong
You can plan and prepare for a circumstance that does not come to pass.
And when the situation is different from what you expect, you may not be able to see it, accept it, and adapt rapidly, or enough.
If fear, bad habits, disabling beliefs and incorrect expectations are some of the causes, what are some of the cures for the problem?
- Benchmark and learn from the best.
- Observe others in competition. See how they handle the pressure when the pressure’s highest.
- Get a mentor. Learn from someone who has been where you’re going.
- Plan for and practice in all sorts of circumstances…best and worst…to build resilience, muscle-memory and relative fearlessness in your ability to handle many types of situations.
When the pressure is on, your ability to read a situation quickly and accurately, then to choose the right moves, take them, and ultimately succeed in unexpected situations may be one of your most important success skills of all.
Get out of your own way.
Let your best, and the best of your team, come through clearly and completely.
Don’t trap or bury your talent.
Turn your full potential into full success.