Outstanding performance is the third key to career and life success that I discuss in my book “Straight Talk for Success.” If you want to become an outstanding performer you have to become a lifelong learner, set and achieve high goals and organize your time and life. This takes hard work.
One of my favorite quotes on hard work comes from the Dalai Lama.
"One can be deceived by three types of laziness:
the laziness of indolence, which is the wish to procrastinate;
the laziness of inferiority, which is doubting your capabilities;
and the laziness that is attached to negative actions, or putting great effort into non-virtue."
I really like this quote because it drives home an important point about hard work, personal responsibility and becoming an outstanding performer. The Dalai Lama doesn’t let us off the hook by saying, "I didn’t think I could do it." Instead, he says that doubting our abilities is a form of laziness. That’s some tough love!
And, if you think about it, he is right. All too often, we let ourselves off the hook by saying, "I’m not going to try that, because I don’t think I can do it." This is being lazy. "I can’t do it, so I won’t even try." As I read these words out loud, they sound pretty lame. Agree? If you do, you’ll stop using lack of self confidence as an excuse for not doing the work it takes to become an outstanding performer.
In the fall of 2006, Fortune published a special issue called Fortune: The Excellence Issue . The cover story was entitled "What It Takes to be Great." It began with this point: "Research now shows that the lack of natural talent is irrelevant to great success. The secret? Painful and demanding practice and hard work." Bad news for the get-rich-quick crowd.
I love the juxtaposition: Fortune Magazine and the Dalai Lama both agree that blaming your failures on your lack of talent rather than your lack of hard work is futile. The good news here is that we can all become high performers. The bad news is that we have to work hard to do it.
The common sense point here is simple. If you want to become an outstanding performer you need to do three things. 1) Approach everything you do with the explicit goal of getting much better at it. 2) As you do your work, focus on what you’re doing and why you’re doing it the way you are. 3) After you finish a piece of work, ask for feedback on your performance from multiple sources. Listen to what these people say. Make the changes they suggest. If you follow these steps and do them regularly, not sporadically, you’ll be on your way to becoming an outstanding performer. These are simple, straightforward, common sense steps. But, like most common sense, they take real commitment to put into play.
That’s my take on what the Dalai Lama and Fortune magazine have to say about hard work and outstanding performance. What’s yours? As always, I’m interested in your thoughts and comments on this post – and my other posts as well. Please take a few minutes and comment. I really appreciate all of your comments. Thanks for reading.