Not long ago I was doing research for a new project. As I went through the top 20 articles on Google for “characteristics of high performers,” I thought I’d have a little fun and put them into a WordCloud. Below is what it produced:
Next, I identified the top 10 that jumped out at me and wrote my insights on how you can acquire them (if you don’t have them already). These 10 things are what move the needle in your life, personally and professionally.
Without a doubt, the grand daddy of Outperforming is Confidence. It is the ONE thing that was consistently mentioned…in almost every article I read.
“Like any of these things, no one is born with confidence. It is something you create. Something you choose.”
Preparation is a great way to build confidence but it mostly starts with knowing that you need no good reason to be confident. Just choose to be that way, from the moment you wake up! Why would you choose the alternative?
Action Item: What have you had to overcome to get to this point in your life?Leverage it. Use it as a “reference point,” because if you’ve done it before, you can do it again.
2. Work Ethic
Think about the things you TRULY value in your life (relationships, awards, achievements) – were these things easy or did they require work?
Anything worthwhile requires rolling up your sleeves, honoring your commitment and doing it…even when times get tough and you don’t feel like it.
Action Item: Work ethic slips when we feel like we’re spinning our wheels and not making progress. It can also slip when we don’t feel like we’re working towards something worthwhile. Either find a way to document the progress you’ve made to this point (to show how far you’ve come, not how far left you have to go) or choose to pursue something that really lights a fire within you.
The highest achievers and the greatest successes are also the biggest failures.
Here’s the problem – we only see the AFTER. We never see the BEFORE.
“Behind every Outperformer is someone who has failed, failed, failed, failed, and failed again, but they keep at it, and THAT is why they’ve ultimately succeeded.”
Action Item: Script a “Power Phrase.” Something short that emphasizes positive action. It could be “Bring it on,” or “You’ve got this,” or “Charge,” or “If it will be, it’s up to me.” The phrase should strike a chord in you and it’s something you should repeat to yourself when you’re experiencing adversity.
No one Outperforms alone. The loftier the outcome, the more it will require the input and the help of others.
Another word to use here is Resourcefulness. Outperformers are able to connect the dots with the resources (sometimes, people) to get what they want. Instead of sweating what they lack, they focus on what they HAVE. And they use it.
Action Item: Who can you network with that can make you BETTER? I’ll leave it as open-ended as that. There’s always someone who can pull you up.
I’m a believer that competition (if done correctly) makes everyone better. I think removing competition gives people a false sense of participation-ribbon-based security and that’s not how the real world works.
Here’s the difference – Outperformers are competitive with THEMSELVES. They don’t wait for managers to set their quotas and give them benchmarks.
“Set your own high standards and competitively strive to reach them.”
Action Item: Irrespective of what anyone else is doing, how can you create a competitive goal based on your own personal performance? Make it specific and time bound. Next, create a reward if you achieve it and a punishment if you miss it. GO!
Notice that goals are nowhere on this list? Or in the WordCloud? I don’t even remember it being mentioned in any of the articles I read.
Goals are easy and safe to talk about but they don’t necessarily inspire people. Having a crystal clear VISION for what you want your life to look like and making the conscious decisions to bring this to fruition, does. Vision is also what inspires people to follow you.
Action Item: What is your vision for your life? What does it look like professionally? Personally? Spiritually? Relationships? Health? Vision is the rope pulling you towards the best version of YOU.
This has nothing to do with IQ, standardized test scores or the GPA you got in school. It has to do with continuously feeding your mind and mastering your craft. It’s part of the reason I have the tagline on my personal email, “Readers are Leaders. Learners are Earners.”
Action Item: What is ONE area you’d like to become more knowledgable? Read the top book in that category on Amazon. Or read the top articles in a Google search (sort of like I did here). Or watch the most popular TED talk. Or listen to the top-rated podcast on iTunes. Choose your medium. The information to build your intellect is everywhere.
Confession – I’ve always been a fan of the TV show Shark Tank. Every now and then an entrepreneur will come into the tank and, even though their business keeps losing money, they’re too stubborn to change their thinking and try something different.
Being an Outperformer means you’re focused and confident, but you’re also flexible enough to make course corrections and realize when something isn’t working, then taking the necessary steps to do something about it.
Action Item: Insanity = doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result. Is there an area of your life where you could benefit from a fresh, objective approach? We’re all creatures of habit and sometimes the way we’re doing it isn’t the best way.
Values are the things that hold the most importance to you. They are the things you will never compromise…in any situation.
“Be who you are. Outperformers know who they are with anyone is who they are with EVERYONE.”
Let your values be your rock. Losing sight of them also means losing the trust of those around you.
Action Item: What are your top 3 values? Why did you choose these and how do you demonstrate them in your life? Write it down.
True Outperformers understand that you catch more bees with honey than vinegar (I think that’s the line, right?). They have a short-term memory of failure and a long-term memory of success.
Remaining positive and upbeat, regardless of circumstances, allows Outperformers to take calculated risks, have less stress, effectively generate solutions and rally other like-minded people around them.
Action Item: Every day, wake up and write down (or, at least, think about) ONE thing for which you’re grateful. Doing this consistently will condition a mindset of positivity. You’ll start instinctively looking at what’s right instead of what’s wrong, in any situation.
Look at these 10 things like spokes of a bicycle wheel. Some of them you probably embody every day. Others may be more of a struggle.
You can still move forward with a couple of broken spokes, but not at nearly the velocity you could if everything was solid and working in harmony.
“The true Outperformer will spend more time working on weakness than showing off strength.”