Now that I am well and truly past my prime competing at the Olympic level, I have some key insights about performance habits that I didn’t recognise 20 years ago.
It is no coincidence that the athletes who I tried to emulate 20 years ago share similar patterns of behaviour with the top performers in business who I am fortunate enough to work with daily.
The standout trait of a high performer is consistency of attitude – when they show up on any given day you know what you’re going to get out of them. Different personalities deal with stress and pressure in different ways. I for one used to laugh, smile, joke around with my teammates and get quite vocal in preparation for races. I had a coach who questioned my commitment because he didn’t know that this was all part of my preparation.
Dr Ian G. Gray stated that, “The difference between successful people and unsuccessful people is that successful people have developed the habits that unsuccessful people have not.” To take this a step further, successful people have commitment, which is in direct proportion to their confidence.
If we know we are good at something and we have the skill, we are far more likely to jump in and commit to a given endeavour. Of course if you look at the different personalities of introverts, extroverts and ambiverts, the commitment journey for each may look a bit different. So how do we take that first step to developing commitment, making whatever task we undertake an enjoyable one?
1) Ask yourself, “What are my chances of succeeding at this?” If the answer is “not in a million years”, stop and re-evaluate. Your level of commitment will be minimised unless you feel that you will achieve a positive outcome.
2) How much is this going to exhaust my time, money and mind space? Is this practical? Do the sums before you take the first step, so you don’t have doubts and surprises along the way.
3) Is this task utilising a personal strength of mine? Or am I going to need to develop in an area that is a potential weakness in order to be successful?
4) Understand the personal tools that you are going to call upon to undertake this activity and make sure you are well prepared mentally and physically to see it through.
Developing commitment often starts with understanding where the motivation is going to come from and then developing trigger words to keep you on task. Whether it’s ego, kids, mum or money, ensure that you have a clear picture about who or what you will draw upon for inspiration when times are tough or when you are winning.
Chip McKibben is a co-owner and director of Bulletproof People. He combines his experience gained as an elite athlete with his corporate experience in both the USA and Australia to provide support for business managers and leaders functioning within a high performance environment. Chip is a 1992 USA Olympian and World Champion oarsman.