In my work I hear “we can’t do that because…” on a regular basis, with reasons ranging from very tangible to perceived impediments and (sometimes) pure excuses. By contrast I see and have experience of success in very challenging circumstances. On a permanent quest for the formula of peak performance, I'm fascinated and inspired by outliers, what makes them different and what we can learn from them.
I'm currently reading the memoirs of a French Foreign Legionnaire. Whether or not you like the military, it's interesting.
Unsurprisingly, a couple of things have resonated with me so far. Firstly that training (for anything) is about repetition to build new habits, discipline and confidence and secondly the quote "our energies were being directed into strong groups who worked together for each other...our new found strengths were used to form groups which could rely on each other...determined to achieve the tasks set us."
Behaviour, attitude, teamwork and motivation are again critical success factors in these elite performers.
Interestingly, the author (Alex Lochrie) notes that "as training progressed there were subtle changes in the instructors' methods". They subtly changed from classic command & control to encouraging self-organisation. Teams gained confidence in themselves and each other fuelling their performance.
Lochrie had an interesting life. His career included artist, policeman, pilot and legionnaire. Developing new skills opened opportunities for him. He simply refused to accept defeat in everything he chose to do – if he couldn’t do it today he would train until he conquered it. It’s the theory of 10,000 hours (Malcolm Gladwell) and the aggregation of marginal gains (James Clear) in practice, plus a healthy dose of self-discipline and determination.
So what can we learn from from this peak performer and his experience?
Strive for your personal best?
Parallels to good Scrum?
Never give up?
I’d say so.
What are your top tips for peak performance - I’d love to hear from you.