High Performance

You go girl.

Having spent 20 years with the most ubiquitous high tech and consumer products companies in the world, I’ve learned a thing or two about high performance. I’ve had the pleasure of working alongside some of the smartest and most creative people around and let me tell you, it’s hard to beat smarts.

These people have challenges too, and ones you might want to be mindful of as your gird up for your career.


  • It’s true that focus wins. I owe that maxim to one of my earliest, and toughest, bosses. Focus though comes with a two-fold challenge: ensuring its on the right thing, and, knowing when enough is enough. It might seem axiomatic that high peformers do focus on what counts leaving extraneous things aside. For the most part this is true but remember the world is not a static place. Customers, markets, regulations etc., all change. High peformers have to keep their focus in focus if you will. As to the second point sometimes intense focus causes us to lose sight of when it’s time to shut it down and move to the next objective. There is validity in the 80/20 proposition. When you’ve reached a tipping point in return on investment it’s time to move on. Focus wins only as long as the focus is right.


  • High performers have to believe in themselves – I’ve never followed a doubting Thomas. The caution here however is that belief and confidence should also be tempered by testing and verification. The most capable of the high peformers I’ve known were able to brook challenges, take questions and consider alternatives as they pursued objectives. This duality of thinking about options even as they believed in their own course allowed them to make adjustments as needed as well as learn who they could rely on for critical and helpful feedback. Believing in yourself is paramount. Believing in yourself while still having the ability to consider other input is fundamental to high performance.


  • Much as the Type A’s scoff at the notion the truth is all of us – high performers included – need balance. For each of us this balance is different. Recharging oneself might be through museum visits, martial arts, long distance running, or downtime with the kids but whatever it is its essential high peformers find it and do it. High performers run at such a high level that without this balance or pause, they can easily burn out and once that’s done its difficult to return to their former status. Can you rebuild a frozen engine run too low on oil? Yes. Will it ever be the same? No. Protect your high performers by ensuring they do whatever works for them to feed their soul. High performers serve no one when left to consume themselves in the brilliance of their own flame.

Much of the time the best thing we can do with and for high performers is stay out of their way. Often they succeed in spite of the system not because of it.

Yet even these people need a minimum of guidance and correction to maintain their performance level. The points outlined here can help ensure your brightest performers don’t become falling stars.

Now let’s go – there’s work to be done.



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