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Five Keys to Doing High-Performance Work

Five Keys to Doing High-Performance Work

As a human being, you’re built to be creative. For too long, we’ve categorized creativity into something synonymous with the arts. We look at songwriters, painters, or sculptors as creative people. But you, as a human being, create things every day. Sometimes we create fantastic interactions with people; other times, we create drama. Sometimes we create documents, sometimes spreadsheets. You are creative no matter what you produce, and when you’re really good at what you do, you gain the respect of others, especially your peers.

The first key to doing high performance work is to realize you are a creator that has the power to produce the life and work you want. You are not a powerless victim without any options. When you make the decision on where to focus your creativity, you must ask yourself what your creation will lead to: is it more money or less money? Is it more vacation or less vacation? Is it adding to my credibility or taking away from it?

  1. Practice innovation and imagination. Innovation is nothing more than making everything you come into contact with better than it was before. It allows you to be more of an artist. Use your imagination and make things around you more brilliant. Ask yourself: what new approach can I take to my work?
  2. Put some ‘wow’ in everything you do. When you go to work, operate at a level beyond what’s expected. Think of what you do in three different categories: the Expected, the Nice Surprise, and the Wow. Ask yourself: How can I can make a given scenario work better? How can I offer greater value and get to the next level of performance?
  3. Be the real you. The best performers in any industry are those who are authentically themselves. This does not mean you get to excuse rudeness or impolite behavior by claiming that’s “just how you are.” You do need to maintain some decorum and dignity if you want to gain respect. But always be yourself, and approach every experience with your unique perspective. If something doesn’t go right, ask yourself: what is the gift here that I can use and learn from to be a better me?
  4. Exercise courage. Courage is what will drive you forward to try new things and increase your capabilities. No person is good at something the first few times they attempt it. We tend to look at masterful performers and just assume they’ve always been that way. Not true. It takes work to get better, and it takes courage to work. High performers know that the commitment they’ve made means they have to continually try new things in order to stay relevant. If you can’t seem to generate the courage you need to journey into those areas, ask yourself: do I have a strong enough commitment to be the best at what I do?
  5. Be true to your ethics. It could take 15 years just to become an “overnight” success, but you can lose it all in 30 seconds of bad judgment. One moment of moral or ethical weakness can cost you everything you’ve worked so hard to achieve and attain. Ask yourself: If I were to read about me doing this on the front page of the newspaper tomorrow, would I still do it?

Action Steps

Writing in your journal is a real conversation with yourself. In your journal, write about playing at your best level. What are the five things that need to happen for you to have a remarkable day?

Spend some time learning every day. The American Society of Training & Development says the average employee spends only 30 hours a year working on their craft. No wonder there’s so much mediocrity out there. This is where you can create a big advantage!

In the next seven days, do one thing at your work you’ve been resisting. Oftentimes, that’s the thing you need to do to get to the next level of performance.
Tony Richards is an organizational and executive development expert and CEO of Clear Vision Development Group, a leadership and strategy firm in Columbia, Missouri. He is one of Inc. magazine’s top 100 leadership speakers and thinkers. His firm’s website is Follow Tony on Twitter @tonyrichards4.

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