If you’re being chased by a bear, you don’t have to run faster than the bear. You just have to run faster than the other guy who’s being chased. At a Chicago Executive’s Club panel on cyber security, we learned the same principle applies to defending your company against cyber attacks.
Peak performance strategies can give business leaders a leg up on the competition, even though the true path to success lies in an old joke. A guy says to a taxi driver, “Can you tell me how to get to Carnegie Hall?” And the taxi driver answers, “Practice, practice, practice.”
The taxi driver is right, of course. To get to Carnegie Hall — or any other arena of high achievement — you have to work hard to hone your skills. But psychologists have learned that peak performance takes more than skill development. Even the most highly trained performers won’t achieve their best without the right mental tools.
There’s a fundamental puzzle at the core of the gender diversity issue. By now, it is well established that businesses led by women and teams that include women tend to outperform their all-male competitors. Large, well-designed, global studies have supported this finding again and again.
So, if you’re a business leader who wants to see your company thrive, why aren’t you rushing to hire women into senior roles as fast as possible?
It started out fine. Interesting, high-powered women invited to a lovely luncheon sponsored by a financial services firm. A panel of three women who are outstanding leaders in the hospitality industry. Beautiful setting, tasty food — it seemed as if it would be all good.
So why did I flee an hour later, rudely walking out before the event was over? There were two main problems.
Just about everyone sometimes finds his or her job overwhelming, but truly extreme jobs are exceptional in their demands on your time and your energy.
These jobs can be highly stimulating, satisfying, and lucrative. But they can also lead to health problems, relationship issues, and emotional burnout. If that’s sounds familiar, here are some key elements to help you determine if your job is extreme:
The annual performance review is dead — or so some writers would have us believe. Many companies are looking for better ways to provide employee feedback, evaluate performance, and calculate raises and bonuses. I first wrote about the drawbacks of performance reviews five years ago. Recently, Grant Levitan of RHR International wrote a good summary of the shortcomings of the annual review process.
In isolated systems, things gradually fall apart. So says physics since Sadi Carnot first articulated the Second Law of Thermodynamics in 1824. Over time, a system that is not taking in energy gradually becomes less organized and less effective.
How many organizations are closed systems, inwardly focused, rigid, and monotonous? No wonder they gradually deteriorate, not because of any bad intentions or external catastrophes, but because of the entropy, the disorder, that is bound to happen. And what’s so sad it that often human systems are closed because the members are trying to preserve order.
If “performance coach” conjures an image of a tobacco-chewing man standing on the sidelines with a baseball cap and a whistle, that’s deliberate. Performance coaching applies the coaching skills of professional sports to the business world. We executive performance coaches may not use a whistle — or chew tobacco — but we are just as focused on whipping clients into peak competitive shape as any sports coach.
Right after World War II, hundreds of Jewish children who had been imprisoned in the concentration camps were brought to England for rehabilitation. My father, Walter Hartmann, was a counselor at one of the rehabilitation centers in the British countryside.
The first time you see them you cannot believe your eyes. You’re driving through one of the bleakest urban ghettos in America, the Watts neighborhood of Los Angeles, and there against the horizon is a collection of fantastic metal structures. They seem completely out of place and other-worldly. And then, as you draw near, you discover that they are totally covered with the wildest mosaics.
Want to negotiate successfully? Think of two sisters fighting over an orange. There is only one orange and each one wants it. They quarrel for a while and then finally agree to cut the orange in half so each one gets an equal share.
Why would a company want nay-saying coworkers, people who are challengers, devil’s advocates? They are often difficult to work with and slow down decision making.
And yet without them, the decisions that do get made are not as successful.
Employee burnout is a serious problem, both for individuals and for employers. The physical symptoms of burnout are miserable: exhaustion, headaches, gastrointestinal complaints, hypertension, and sleep problems, among others. And the emotional symptoms are equally debilitating: anger, depression, diminished sense of personal accomplishment, unreasonable self-expectations, hopelessness, irritability, a reduced sense of joy, and low self-esteem.