Personal Development
  01453 731689

This article as originally published on 12 February 04

Performing on purpose: being effective by keeping your feet on the ground.

I've had one of those weird hectic weeks this week and I've been asking myself some questions about it...

On the one hand, I've been trying to juggle a lot of very different, very tricky jobs. Lots of unknowns and lots of pressure. Like many people, it's the kind of thing I like to think I'm good at dealing with. But it's felt like trying to run on ice carrying too many things. Lots of effort, limbs everywhere. Stuff dropped, picked up again. Stuff forgotten, then remembered at the last minute. Despite being very clear about the actual tasks that needed to get done, there was a lot of not getting anywhere at all.

And yet something else has been happening this week, too. I was thrilled to hear from a client who, after taking some pretty big personal risks, had landed his dream job. He'd really stuck to his guns and resisted the temptation to bail out. Then I had a great conversation with a friend about networking - a real issue for so many people is small businesses. We started to explore how compelling we can be when we offer a proposition that really reflects our values and personality. And then when I look back over my own week, there are some things I've done pretty well, too, some moments when I was making things work for me. Some things that have just flowed. They've felt somehow more certain and so much less effort.

So I've been pretty struck by the contrast. What makes the difference between thrashing around on the ice on the one hand and striding confidently to where you're going on the other? Here are the things I've noticed this week:

  1. Ice. OK that's a metaphor. Let's say, being able to feel the ground beneath your feet. We'll come back to this at the end.
  2. Staying on track. This is the difference between looking at your feet and looking at the horizon. Setting your sights keeps you balanced and on track. Staying on track means you can leave some of the trivia behind.
  3. Being flexible. If you are rigid, it's that much more difficult to overcome barriers. Flexibility is being able to absorb disturbance for the time being.
  4. Being open to possibilities. When I've found things a big effort this week, I've noticed that I've wanted something to turn out in a certain way. Just so. What a strain trying to get that last piece of the jigsaw. When I've been able to go with the flow, I've got some great results; things I didn't plan for because I didn't know they might happen.
  5. Choosing to stand back. This is the active decision not to become overwhelmed by what's going on. OK this is tricky. OK this is not perfect. But let's not get stuck in a rut about everything being impossible. It's no good just staring at what's in the way.

What strikes me about this list is that it's all about being purposeful. The start of it all was this idea of feeling the ground rather than slipping frantically on ice and I said I'd come back to that. It seems to me that the real foundation stone of all the great stuff that happens is about knowing where we stand. My client who really knew what his dream job was and really understood why he wanted it. The friend who really wanted to get out and communicate more authentically with his business network. Feeling the ground solid beneath our feet is about knowing and being ourselves. When we know what we are and where we're going, we can be much more effective.

So I've been asking myself some questions about performance and effectiveness this week. But value in my business often comes from asking other people questions. So here are some questions for you to think about:

Could you make a different choice? To be more flexible or open? To stay on track or stand back? Could you help someone else in your business make those choices?

Or perhaps you can ask yourself the question I've been asking myself: what's the difference for you between coping and being really effective?

  Back to Resources page.