“There are some places where I feel at ease and just focus on my own performance,” said one person. “Whilst I aim to co-operate with people, I do not compare myself with them or get involved in some kind of competition. Like a good golfer, artist or musician, I put my energy into fulfilling my potential.”
“On the other hand, there are some places where I worry about where I stand in the ‘pecking order’. This eventually becomes debilitating. Whilst I can learn from others, I want to concentrate on where I ‘play my natural game’, rather than lose sleep over the efforts of others.”
Peak performers often take this route. Whilst some do feel spurred on by competition, they translate this into channelling their talents. They ‘control the controllables’, rather than worry about what they can’t control. Let’s explore how you can follow this path in your own way.
1) You can put yourself in places where you focus on your own game.
Where do you experience this feeling? You may be painting a picture, composing a song, cooking a meal, solving a technical problem, cultivating a garden, making a presentation or whatever. What do you feel like then? What are the principles you are following? How can you follow these more in the future?
Looking at my own life, there have been specific activities where I have focused on the experience, rather than be concerned about comparisons. For example, when mentoring, running workshops and writing.
There have been two others – making ‘pitches’ for business and running football teams – where, whilst supposedly in competition with others, I felt little pressure. The theme in all these activities has been helping others to succeed – whether they are a mentee, reader, client, football team or whatever – rather than ‘beating the competition’.
Certainly it has been good to win the business or the football championship, but these outcomes have been by-products.
On the other hand, there are some areas where I worry about what I can’t control. This does not help anybody. So I try to quickly focus on everything that is controllable. Sometimes it takes a big self-kick to make this transition.
Try tackling the exercise on this theme. First, describe a specific activity where you focus on your own game, rather than worry about that of others. Second, describe how you can put yourself in this place more often. Try completing the following sentences.
2) You can play your own game and keep improving your performance.
Peak performers are committed to Kaizen – the Japanese concept of continuous improvement. There are many tools you can use to keep developing. Here are two suggestions.
* You can learn from your own performance.
Keep an ongoing record called My Development Diary. Looking back on the past week, for example, describe specific things under the following headings.
My Development Diary
The specific things I have done
well in the past week have been:
The specific things I can do even
better in the future – and how – are:
* You can learn from other people.
Write the names of three people whose opinions you respect. Looking at your professional work, invite them to give honest feedback on:
a) The specific things you do well.
b) The specific things you can do even better in the future.
Also invite them to give suggestions regarding a possible action plan. Whilst you don’t have to take all the ideas on-board, the exercise can provide valuable food for thought.
Try tackling the exercise on this theme. Describe the specific things you can do to concentrate on your own game and keep improving. Try completing the following sentences.
3) You can focus on your own game and become the best you can be.
Another way to develop ‘your own game’ is to find and follow your ‘tradition’.
What does this mean? Your tradition is made up of people whose path you are pursuing in your own way. They may be particular kinds of workers, athletes, artists, musicians, inventors, leaders, philosophers or whatever. Bearing in mind the principles they followed, you can learn lessons from them and integrate these into ‘your own game’.
Try tackling the following exercise on this theme. First, write the names of people whose tradition you may be following. Second, describe some of the principles they pursued. Third, describe how you can use some of these ideas to make full use of your talents.
The names of some of the people
whose tradition I am following are:
The principles they followed were:
The specific things I can do to integrate some of these
ideas into ‘my own game’ and try to fulfil my potential are:
There are many ways to keep improving in life. One approach is to focus on your own game, rather than worrying about that of others. You can then put all your energy into becoming the best kind of person or professional you can be.
Try tackling the exercise on this theme. Describe the specific things you can do to become the best you can be. Try completing the following sentence.