It is fascinating to watch the Olympics for many reasons including watching how the different athletes handle pressure. Some people seem to seize the moment with relative ease while others sadly fall apart and make uncharacteristic mistakes. When you get to this level of performance excellence just about every competing athlete has superlative physical gifts and natural ability. What separates the winners from the losers is often their mental toughness and emotional resiliency. They have grace under pressure.
One of the interesting things I find with high performing people is that they are usually harder on themselves than anyone else could be. Sure there are some exceptions – leaders who just self-confidence, but this is rarer than you think. There is usually something that drives an individual to excel. You hope the motivation is a positive one; however this isn’t always the case. I still remember one of my top clients saying several years ago that fear of failure is a good motivator and he didn’t know what he would do if ever actually embraced and enjoyed his success. I found this to be sad and he couldn’t understand why.
Everyone likes to be acknowledged and appreciated. It’s basic human nature. Hard work, determination and skill should be recognized. It’s been proven by many studies that top performers in all walks of life like it when you keep score. It’s no so much to feed their ego but more about being transparent about results and progress. You can only move the bar if you know where it already exists. Moreover, our innate competitive nature likes to know how we are doing vis-à-vis our peers and colleagues.
Sometimes it’s hard to switch back into work mode once you’ve had several days off (especially this time of year). However, being successful means being able to turn it on and off as needed.