Simply the Best
Since establishing Everyday Leader in 2017, I have had the privilege of being able to give more time to reading articles & books, listening to podcasts and watching TEDtalks on leadership. There are some aspects that have been seminal, crucial pieces of thinking that have acted like keys, unlocking thinking and possibilities. The book ‘Black Box Thinking’ by Matthew Syed, helping to redefine failure and feedback as learning and growth. The Tedtalk, ‘The Power of Why’ by Simon Sinek, to understand importance of being clear on our purpose. And, most recently, the podcast series by Jake Humphrey, entitled ‘The High-Performance Podcast’ has been rich with leadership thinking. For me, the most influential from this series, is the conversation with Jonny Wilkinson, where he explains his transition from a binary pass/fail approach to life and sport to his current perspective of ‘explore’, ‘ be curious’ and the focus on ‘all of me in every moment’. Each week, as a coach, I explore this liberating approach with people. It is not about, ‘will I win or lose in this?’ It becomes ‘what can I learn about myself in this situation?’ We then start to explore, ‘what does my best performance look like at this point in time?’ It becomes part of an ongoing journey of discovery. This approach can transform our leadership, rejuvenate us and empower those that we work with. And so, over the next 3 weeks I will explore what this looks like by exploring
Do the best that you can
With all that you have
In the moment that you are in
This week it is the turn of ‘do the best that you can’.
Do the best that you can
My Granny used to say, “I don’t mind what you do, as long as you do your best.” It was a liberating saying. It wasn’t about being the winner, or having status. It was all about doing it well. Now, I never tested the extremes of this statement by coming to Granny and telling her that I had worked really hard on a life of crime. That would have been sure to result in a finger wag or Granny looking over her glasses! Neither would I have dared to only leave things to the last minute and just ‘do the best that I could’ in that moment. So, what does ‘doing the best that I can’ look like? What does it mean in leadership?
For me, it comes down to the 4P’s
Clarity of Purpose
As mentioned earlier, Simon Sinek, outlined the ‘Power of Why’ in his Ted Talk and book. In this he explains how we don’t engage in ‘what’ but we do engage in ‘why’. For example, if I said, ‘Do go to Cabbages & Kings coffee shop at The Mix in Stowmarket because they make a lovely cuppa and cake’, you might go. But if I said, “It’s more than a lovely cuppa and cake, go to Cabbages & Kings coffee shop at The Mix in Stowmarket, because all the profit goes to supporting & developing young people,” you are more likely to engage as you know the purpose of the profit. It is the same with us as individuals. When we are clear on the purpose of what we are doing, we are more likely to give of our best. The Japanese have a saying ‘Ikagai’ which is about finding purpose. Purpose in each moment. When we understand ‘why’ we are doing something, we are more likely to give passionately to it. My purpose is to ‘inspire and equip’ people. So, I will give passionately to my coaching, my training, my podcasts, blogs and book, because it fulfils that purpose.
Imagine the moment. It can be any moment. The golfer taking the putt on the 18th hole in the final of a championship. The footballer taking the penalty in the dying moments of the cup final. The gymnast standing at the start of their floor exercise in the Olympic final. Or you standing there, facing your team as they wait expectantly for your view on the next step. For each person, the best has to come in that moment. But their true best will only come from what has taken place before. There is an age-old phrase, ‘failing to plan is planning to fail’. Perfectly summing up the importance in this moment. Reading & researching. Practise and failing. Reviewing and refining. Planning and executing. All moments before, that when executed and reviewed enable you to perform better in this ‘moment’. Doing the best that you can, is about the long-term preparation. It’s also about the long-term view. Knowing that even failure is part of the best when it becomes a learning point. So, as leaders, we need to read, we need to extend our thinking. This equips us for the moments to use this learning.
This is perhaps the most obvious part of ‘doing the best that you can’. But what is high performance? It starts with understanding, what does good look like? I recently worked with a group where we looked at, what is good customer service? Each team listed what they saw this looking like. This then acted like a mirror for them to view their customer experience reflection against. Our best performance, may well include sacrifice as part of that. If I want to be the best coach or trainer, then I need to get good sleep, so some later night TV gets sacrificed. If I want to be a good coach and trainer then I need to be fit and healthy, so that means a good diet, with low sugars and bad carbs and exercise in the form of early morning runs. If I want to be a great coach, it means not packing my day too tightly, so I am not too tired for my clients. As leaders, our peak performance, in that moment, is the sum of all the preparation. It is the hard work in pulling together a team that complements our strengths.
When we view doing ‘the best that we can’ as an end goal, we miss a trick. Doing ‘the best that we can’ is a journey and not a destination. It does not end in the performance. After the performance, probe and explore the performance. What worked well? What could be even better? After each training course we run, we ask for feedback. We review what worked well and what could be better. We look at the comments and unpick what could be better. The next course has to be even better. Our clients need the best we can be. I encourage people to be like a gold prospector. Sieve feedback for its gold and let the mud and silt fall through. What will help me improve?
Is your best your best?
So how are you doing? Is your best your best?
Are you clear on your purpose?
Have you read, researched, practised, reviewed and planned?
Have you considered your whole self, your diet, sleep & exercise and wellbeing as contributing to your best performance?
Have you developed a reflective practice?
If you would like help to discover what the best of you could be, then do get in contact with me for a no-obligation conversation. email@example.com We can help you to be the best that you could be.