We’re thrilled to feature this guest post from leadership expert and author Mark Sanborn! It is adapted from his new book “The Potential Principle.”
Every day we “perform,” at work and at home, in ways big and small. Because we can’t (and shouldn’t) give every performance the same attention, it is easy to be lulled into a sense that satisfactory is good enough. To keep getting better at the important performances of your life, you need a new mind-set: Satisfactory is anything but.
Not every action you take, behavior you apply, or performance you give will be the best ever given by anyone anywhere. That is strictly impossible. Even the greatest at their craft can’t sustain that kind of ideal performance. There is sometimes an element of inexplicable mystery to those kinds of amazing performances.
The ideas I’m about to share aren’t secrets in the strictest sense of the word. But few, it seems, consider and use these ideas to better their best.
First, Performance Improves When You Enjoy It
Here’s a rhetorical question: Do you perform better when you are enjoying yourself? Of course you do. You might suffer through a performance that is stellar, but that is rare. A superb performance isn’t just about what you do, how well you do it, or what others think. It is about how you feel when you are doing it. What is the point of better performance if you don’t feel better too? Play is innately creative. Rigid rules and structure will help you develop your foundation, but play is what brings artistry to your performance. This doesn’t mean you will enjoy the preparation, practice, or even every performance. But when you can find and focus on what you enjoy and are good at, your improvement will come much easier.
Second, Dedication and Discipline Are Twins
If you say you are dedicated, you are also speaking indirectly of your willingness to do what needs to be done, and that is discipline. Discipline, as I define it, is the ability to do what needs to be done even when you don’t feel like it. Anything of value will require discipline, and lack of it is the chief enemy of better.
Third, Remember That the Best Have Already Created a Path for You
We have an example in the way they lived their lives and ran their businesses that helps guide us in achieving similar success. Rare is the innovator who knew little and then created much. In earlier times apprenticeship was about working for a master to learn your craft or trade. You emulated the master to develop the necessary skills. As I share in my other books and tell my clients, you first emulate to learn, but then innovate to earn. You can only break the rules when you know what the rules are. You can only innovate when you deeply understand what is already being done and then do it differently.
Mark your progress over time, looking for periodic but identifiable improvements. Aim beyond satisfactory, and you will move increasingly toward your potential.
This piece was adapted from The Potential Principle by international bestselling author and top-ranked leadership expert Mark Sanborn. The Potential Principle will be available everywhere on September 5, 2017. For more info, visit http://marksanborn.com