Most of us have the desire to be high-performing. The alternative is boredom and less personal pride. Entrepreneurs especially, with their names on the sign, aim high.
In the sports world, athletes create rituals and regulate how they live in order to increase their performance. Business people tend to make to-do lists and set goals -- but not much else. I think that’s a lost opportunity. Entrepreneurs are no different than athletes: For both groups, peak performance requires attention, reflection, and a plan that goes beyond goal attainment. But because "working" is a daily function, it’s easy to assume great work performance is like the weather, where some days are 72 and sunny and others not so much, for no particular reason.
I want to encourage you to think otherwise, and to adopt one simple habit: Spend 15 minutes every Friday afternoon answering a series of questions. It could make the difference between great and lackluster performance.
These questions are meant to reveal what’s responsible for the high points and low points of your work week. When you are able to see the underlying root cause of excitement -- or lack of it -- you can begin to make changes so that the next week will feel different. With that personal fulfillment often comes professional success.
Here are 15 simple questions. I advise logging and saving your responses every week. Use the document as an ongoing reference.
1. What was the most enjoyable work activity of the week?
2. How many enjoyable work moments did you have?
3. How many frustrating or boring moments did you have?
4. How would you describe your impact on others you work with, your customers, or those whom you came into contact with this week?
5. Is this the type of impact you want?
6. If not, what prompted this change in desired impact?
7. Were you challenged this week?
8. Were you bored?
9. What were your biggest and most exciting challenges this past week?
10. How confident did you feel this week?
11. Did you have any negative mental chatter about yourself?
12. Are you practicing actively believing that you can achieve whatever it is you have set your sights on?
13. Are you committed to having joy and groundbreaking results at work?
14. What distractions came up this week that prevented you from getting the most out of your job?
15. How can you avoid that going forward?
By going through these questions and answering them honestly, you will uncover the root cause of great or less-than-optimal performance. If you reached a goal but didn’t enjoy it, you want to understand how to increase the joy the next time. You will see the “why,” which allows you to understand the cause and make changes to enhance or avoid it going forward.
For example, a recent client I’ll call Bill was set on being a "fix and rebuild" type of CEO. By asking these questions every week, he uncovered a deep-seated, and surprising, distaste for that aspect of his job. Instead, he discovered that managing a well-oiled machine over time -- not fixing it -- brought him joy and peak performance. He had not previously valued his talent and innate skill because he thought "fixing" had more cachet. Bill is now more clear on what he needs to do in order to shift things around to create the kind of success he wants.
Working toward peak performance is a little like driving a car -- it may become routine and you may even flip on the cruise control every so often. But it’s important to be aware of your surroundings and adapt to them when necessary. Pay attention, ask yourself some questions, and take control of your success.