Performance Blog


Experience: A great teacher, but are you paying attention?

Posted by in Performance Blog | March 2, 2009

There is no substitute for experience when it comes to increasing expertise. It is only in practical experience that our skills and knowledge unite to determine our ability to perform. Experience, however, gives us something more than just a stage upon which to exercise skills and knowledge.

Experience offers an opportunity to learn. Unfortunately, all too often we ignore the lessons offered she offers and simply repeat, again and again, the same ineffective patterns of performance. Consider, for example, our handwriting. We have been writing for years. Has the quality of your handwriting improved? With your extensive writing experience, do you consider yourself a handwriting expert? If you are like most people, despite considerable experience, your handwriting has not improved much over time, and perhaps has even declined in quality. To become a peak performer, you must learn to let experience work for you, and you can learn to do this!

To learn her valuable lessons requires thoughtfully analyzing experiences to identify: a) what we did well and b) what could be improved. By understanding what we did well in a particular experience allows us to use the same skills or knowledge in similar situations in the future. We know what works! By recognizing what could be improved,and we can always find ways to improve, we identify the skills we need to hone or knowledge we need to gain to become even better at what we do. Experience is a great teacher, but only for good students. Learn to capture and exploit her lessons.

Traits of Champions

Posted by in Performance Blog | February 23, 2009

Last week I joined 3 accomplished coaches in San Lois Potosi, Mexico for a training camp for the Mexico Junior National Golf Team. One of those coaches was the highly respected and accomplished sport psychologist, Dr. Deborah Graham. Dr. Graham has perhaps helped more players win tournaments on the professional golf tours than any other sport psychologist. Her list of clients is truly impressive. It is always a delight to work with Dr. Graham. Not only is she a knowledgeable and competent professional, but her warmth and kindness make her a person you feel blessed to have in your company.

As she and I stood in the same facilities where Michael Phelps had a short time ago trained for the Olympics, Deb and I talked about athletes we know and the research we have each completed on the composition of expert performers and champions. I found the consistency in both our experiences and research encouraging. On the plane ride back to the USA, Deb came over to my seat with a copy of her book, The 8 Traits of Champion Golfers? (Simon & Schuster, 1990). The book is based on her study of over 350 professional golfers on the PGA, LPGA, and Champion Tours. Dr. Graham and her husband Jon Stabler have used the principles in this book to help 13 tour professionals win 16 major championships.

While there remains no single formula to achieve peak performance, Dr. Graham has discovered 8 traits common to all the champions. These are: Focus (the ability to concentrate), Abstract Thinking (the ability to reason, problem solve, learn and adapt), Emotional Stability (emotions remain under control despite increased pressure or challenges), Dominance (the tendency to be more aggressive and competitive over easy-going and submissive), Tough-Mindedness (the tendency to be self-centered, indifferent and unmoved by the needs of those around them), Confidence (a healthy, secure and self-satisfied view of oneself), Self-Sufficiency (the willingness to make decisions and commit to decisions made) and Optimal Arousal (a balance between tension and relaxation needed for peak performance). To learn more about these traits, and how you can make them work to increase your performance, read the book or check out Dr. Graham’s website: www.GolfPsych.com. It will be a wise investment of your time.

Are experts born or made?

Posted by in Performance Blog | February 16, 2009

Welcome to Performance Matters’ first blog posting. With research and new information on promoting and improving performance coming at an increasingly rapid rate, the decision was made to make this information available to our clients quicker than is possible with our six times per year newsletter, Promoting Performance. We will continue with the newsletter, but in addition we will add this weekly blog post to our website.

As this posting represents the birth of our blog, it seems fitting to address the issue of the birth of expert performance. On this issue, let’s be clear: No one is born an expert. You may have been fortunate enough to be endowed with certain physical, mental, social or emotional qualities that can assist you in the pursuit of superior performance. But those characteristics alone have never made anyone an expert. To the contrary, what some people have overcome in the pursuit of elite achievement is often as inspirational as it was remarkable or unpredictable.

When we spot someone with an abundance of desirable inherent qualities such as intelligence, attractive personality, or physical prowess we often label these people as having great potential. When combined with qualities such as having successful parents, or a prestigious education, we often identify these people as ‘can’t miss prospects.’ But often they do miss, and more often than not, one’s potential is never reached.

Because expertise is neither a birthright nor an innate characteristic, the good news is that just about anyone can gain a high level of expertise in their chosen profession or business. The legendary business consultant, Peter Drucker, realized early in his career. “I soon learned that there is no ‘effective personality.’ The effective executives I have seen differ widely in their temperaments and their abilities, in what they do and how they do it, in their personalities, their knowledge, their interests

Are experts born or made?

Posted by in Performance Blog | February 16, 2009

Welcome to Performance Matters’ first blog posting. With research and new information on promoting and improving performance coming at an increasingly rapid rate, the decision was made to make this information available to our clients quicker than is possible with our six times per year newsletter, Promoting Performance. We will continue with the newsletter, but in addition we will add this weekly blog post to our website.

As this posting represents the birth of our blog, it seems fitting to address the issue of the birth of expert performance. On this issue, let’s be clear: No one is born an expert. You may have been fortunate enough to be endowed with certain physical, mental, social or emotional qualities that can assist you in the pursuit of superior performance. But those characteristics alone have never made anyone an expert. To the contrary, what some people have overcome in the pursuit of elite achievement is often as inspirational as it was remarkable or unpredictable.

When we spot someone with an abundance of desirable inherent qualities such as intelligence, attractive personality, or physical prowess we often label these people as having great potential. When combined with qualities such as having successful parents, or a prestigious education, we often identify these people as ‘can’t miss prospects.’ But often they do miss, and more often than not, one’s potential is never reached.

Because expertise is neither a birthright nor an innate characteristic, the good news is that just about anyone can gain a high level of expertise in their chosen profession or business. The legendary business consultant, Peter Drucker, realized early in his career. “I soon learned that there is no ‘effective personality.’ The effective executives I have seen differ widely in their temperaments and their abilities, in what they do and how they do it, in their personalities, their knowledge, their interests