Let’s think about super high performers and what you can learn to become one yourself and expose many of the myths you may have about them.
John F. Kennedy said of P.T. 109: “ I had to be a hero. My boat sank.”
Very, very, very few un-squeaky wheels ever get oiled. Very, very, very few non-deadlines are ever met. The dirty little secret of high performers’ high performance is not the glamorous, laudatory or self-effacing virtues of exceptional initiative or self-discipline.
It is a mistake of self-sabotage to believe that others who seem to be performing at a much higher level than you are, or who are accomplishing more than you are, faster than you are, are somehow superior to you in discipline or initiative or capability or genetics, that they possess some sort of internal advantage, some sort of hard-wired power you lack.
This is only rarely the case. For the most part, the super performers, the super successful, the super rich are every bit as weak of character as everybody else. Oh, Nap Hill was right when he listed qualities like initiative, discipline, persistence among his 17. He just failed to emphasize what caused the high achievers he studied to exhibit these qualities: deadlines, commitments, enormous risks and investments that required those qualities.
Consider the highly paid, experienced professional football player. Why is he required to come and be kept under lock and key in a pre-season training camp. He surely knows how to get himself physically and mentally prepared to perform in games. But if left to his own devices, he won’t. So he has to be placed into a certain environment, with requirements and benchmarks and measurements and accountability.
If you want to accomplish more, you need to put yourself into a set of circumstances, conditions and commitments that require you to accomplish more…that require you to develop and exhibit the qualities of people who accomplish more.
Left to my own devices, I might have slept in. Or taken the whole day off to go shopping. Or gone to the track all morning. Or fumbled away the day, on trivial pursuits. And you wouldn’t be reading this e-mail.
Some people think I’m some paragon of discipline. I wish. Actually, I just have a lot of people squeaking.
As secrets go, it’s kind of disappointing, isn’t it? Most secrets are.