Punch the Performance Factor in the Throat.

For as long as I can remember, I have been driven by the need to perform.  I’m not talking about doing my best; I’m talking about the idea that I had to be the best at anything and everything.  If I wasn’t the one standing on the proverbial mountaintop, then I was a failure.  For instance, if I spoke I would immediately check social media to see what people were saying about it and if I didn’t have any mentions, then I was a failure.  Yes, it was vain I know.

I would also constantly check the numbers for our organization on a weekly basis and if we were down or had not grown by 15% from the previous year… I would want to crawl into the deepest cave.  I would feel like a failure for days or until the next week when the numbers were up and I was back on top.  I lived for the approval of man and I loved the pat on the back. 

This constant need for approval just created an arrogant monster that was fed by approval and the applause of others.  If I performed well, I was their hero.  It was all about me.  However, if I didn’t perform well it led me down the slippery slope of excuses and the passing of blame.  

My own 12 year old daughter began to see it and one afternoon drive she could tell I was irritated and frustrated.  She is not your typical 12 year old.  She enjoys politics and science and has an incredible heart for people.  The words that came out of her mouth were blunt, to the point, and as sharp as a straight razor.  “Dad, what if it wasn’t all about the numbers or about you at all, what if it was about the people?  You can’t control who shows up and I’m tired of you being angry and frustrated all the time.”

I was broken. That conversation rocked me to my core for the next several weeks and months.  It took my daughter calling out my arrogance and need for approval to make me realize I had focused far to long on performance, results and perfection.  Enough was enough, it was time to punch the performance factor in the throat and pursue humility and excellence.

We all deal with the performance factor, no matter how big or small our workplace is.  The need to perform and achieve results is often discussed in staff and leadership meetings.  But what if we changed our perspective?  What if we focused more on humility and excellence in our companies and organizations?  Would they change? Would it have such a great impact that it actually changed the world?  I believe so, but how?  How do we pursue humility and excellence and still succeed in the business world and in life? I want to look at pursuing humility first.  I will save pursuing excellence for the next article.

CS Lewis said, “Humility is not thinking less of yourself, it’s thinking of yourself less.”  This definition of Humility is simple, but holds so much power.  In it we find that thinking of yourself less is a key ingredient to a fulfilled life, free from the need to perform for others.  If we don’t need to perform, then we don’t have to think we are better than we are or exaggerate our results.  We can be free to serve and not worry about the result, because the result will take care of itself.   Yes, if you pursue humility with everything you have I fully believe no matter what happens in your organization or business you will be a success.  So what does pursuing humility really look like?

Pursuing humility gives you a quiet confidence that when you are asked to take out the trash you do so with a thankful heart and to the best of your ability.  Pursuing Humility allows you to say “I know who I am,” and you don’t have to take the credit for a job well done, and in fact you enjoy giving the credit away.  Pursuing humility is knowing your calling, which gives you patience and keeps you in your current position until you are elevated in due time.  Pursuing humility is being ok with not being right even if you are right.  Pursuing humility is showing you care enough for your employee or employer to take them a meal when times are rough, even if it’s not convenient.

Can you imagine what would happen if corporations and organizations had employees pursuing humility like that?  Let’s approach our work with a different mindset.  Let’s pursue humility and PUNCH the performance factor in the throat this week.

Cameron Bowman
Cameron is an executive coach and consultant. With a successful career in marketing and public relations, combined with nearly a decade of developing church and community leaders, Cameron has the unique ability to understand that what truly drives growth is how well you connect with the people you’re trying to communicate to.

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