Advertising
Advertising

8 Things That Separate Outstanding Performers From Average People

8 Things That Separate Outstanding Performers From Average People

There are achievers, and then there are super achievers. These are the people who make stuff happen. They seem unstoppable. That’s not because they’ve never failed; it’s because they don’t let failure become the endpoint. Ready to see your own performance move from mediocre to outstanding? Here’s what to do.

1. You must achieve a level of competence.

Don’t stop because you can’t. Just keep learning until you can. The hours of study, research, practice, and just trying you put in will raise your ability inch by inch. And that’s what you have to do if you want to be a high performer. You don’t let the gap between where you are and where you want to be stop you. You simply consider how to cross the gap, and then do what it takes until you get there.

Consider this insight from Tomas Chamorro-Premuzic:

As the legendary Paul Arden (ex creative director at Saatchi & Saatchi) noted: “I want means: if I want it enough I will get it. Getting what you want means making the decisions you need to make to get what you want.”. If you really want what you say you want, then, your low confidence will only make you work harder to achieve it — because it will indicate a discrepancy between your desired goal and your current state.

2. You must set goals worth fighting for.

Kriss Carr was only 32 when she was diagnosed with what doctors called an incurable cancer. Rather than accepting this diagnosis, she turned her life around and 10 years later is “thriving with cancer.” Oh, and she’s also running a popular wellness website, is the author of books and documentaries, and is a renowned healthy living expert.

Advertising

When it matters, you can push yourself to do it. When you look at your goals and think, “Meh, I don’t really care,” you’re not going to fight your way out of a slump. Why would you? So drop the stuff that doesn’t matter to you and set goals that you truly can’t live without.

3. You must treat others with respect.

There’s no power in disrespecting the people around you. High performers know that showing respect not only opens doors, it also enables you to interact in a way gives you the most focus and clarity in every interaction. As Randy Garutti, CEO of Shake Shack, says,

It’s about being present. You can’t be everywhere for everyone, every time. But if there’s one thing I work tirelessly to do, it’s being present when I am there. There’s nothing worse than a leader who gives you their time but not their focus. (Just like there’s nothing worse than reading a story to my kids at bedtime and having my mind drift off to all the other things I have going on.) Being present is something I focus on every day.

4. You must put in the time.

If you want to reach those life-changing goals, you have to put in the hours. There’s no shortcut here. There’s not happy little spaceship that will whisk you away if you just want it bad enough. If you put in average effort, you’ll get average results.

No, you’re going to have to get there one day at a time by working hard and, well, working long. Various research shows that high performers are people who put in long hours: 60-hour workweeks are commonplace among the successful.

Advertising

If you want to be outstanding, you must be committed to doing the work even if it requires long hours. And, most likely, it will.

5. You must define what works for you.

No one else can tell you how to get there from here. And being an outstanding performer means figuring out how to make that leap yourself. Your goals will tell you what you need to do, and then you have to figure out how you can best do it. You also have to figure out what’s too much. When do you need a break? How do you know when you’re overloaded? How can you regain balance? How do you stay connected with those you love while pushing yourself to reach big goals?

Nina Garcia, Creative Director at Marie Claire, says this:

Finding this fine balance is what defines me. Books and magazines make me as do iPads and smartphones. The web has helped me to get in touch and meet new people, but I haven’t forgotten my old friends. I love Twitter, but I also love a real conversation that escapes a 140 character limit. I love to read fashion blogs but nothing can compete with the tactile touch of a haute couture gown.

6. You must think of the future.

Christopher Kane knew when he was just a little boy what he wanted to do. “I’ve always been ambitious, even from a young age,” he says. “I became tunnel vision at around 10 or 11. We got Sky TV and it had all these style programmes and I knew I wanted to be a fashion designer.”

Advertising

That long-term vision served him well; he had his own label selling worldwide before he turned 30. When you are thinking of how you want your life to look in 5, 10, 30 years, you get a lot clearer on what is a waste of time today.

Do you really need to read 27 Buzzfeed articles? Come up with another clever status update? See the latest X-Men flick three times? Or could you be doing something different, something that would actually get you to that future you want to have? If you want to actually get there, start doing it.

7. You must put others first.

People who end up at the top have to work hard. They have to focus. They have to say no, sometimes more than they want to. But that doesn’t mean they don’t value others (they do) and they know how to give. Average people try to get as much as they give. High performers give more than they take.

Adam Grant, author of Give and Take, says:

Then I looked at the other end of the spectrum and said if Givers are at the bottom, who’s at the top? Actually, I was really surprised to discover, it’s the Givers again. The people who consistently are looking for ways to help others are over-represented not only at the bottom, but also at the top of most success metrics. 

8. You must value honesty and transparency.

There’s no substitute for good values. If people learn that you aren’t trustworthy, that’s a lesson they won’t forget. Becoming who you want to be means that you need to start with a strong foundation. That foundation must include a commitment to integrity that you hold fast to, even when you might profit (temporarily) by waffling on your stance or hiding the truth.

Just don’t do it.

As entrepreneur and investor Amy Rees Anderson says,

Success will come and go, but integrity is forever. Integrity means doing the right thing at all times and in all circumstances, whether or not anyone is watching.

Featured photo credit: Mariano Kamp via flickr.com

Advertising

More by this author

15 Meditation Benefits That Will Make You Successful 25 Tiny Habits That Could Totally Change Your Life 7 Reasons Why You Shouldn’t Give Up So Easily 10 Underrated Things Productive People Do Differently 8 Things That Separate Outstanding Performers From Average People

Trending in Productivity

1 5 Values of an Effective Leader 2 How to Motivate People Around You and Inspire Them 3 The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder Work) 4 30 Practical Ideas to Create Your Best Morning Routine 5 Is People Management the Right Career Path for You?

Read Next

Advertising
Advertising
Advertising

Last Updated on July 21, 2021

The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder Work)

The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder Work)

No matter how well you set up your todo list and calendar, you aren’t going to get things done unless you have a reliable way of reminding yourself to actually do them.

Anyone who’s spent an hour writing up the perfect grocery list only to realize at the store that they forgot to bring the list understands the importance of reminders.

Reminders of some sort or another are what turn a collection of paper goods or web services into what David Allen calls a “trusted system.”[1]

A lot of people resist getting better organized. No matter what kind of chaotic mess, their lives are on a day-to-day basis because they know themselves well enough to know that there’s after all that work they’ll probably forget to take their lists with them when it matters most.

Fortunately, there are ways to make sure we remember to check our lists — and to remember to do the things we need to do, whether they’re on a list or not.

In most cases, we need a lot of pushing at first, for example by making a reminder, but eventually we build up enough momentum that doing what needs doing becomes a habit — not an exception.

Advertising

From Creating Reminders to Building Habits

A habit is any act we engage in automatically without thinking about it.

For example, when you brush your teeth, you don’t have to think about every single step from start to finish; once you stagger up to the sink, habit takes over (and, really, habit got you to the sink in the first place) and you find yourself putting toothpaste on your toothbrush, putting the toothbrush in your mouth (and never your ear!), spitting, rinsing, and so on without any conscious effort at all.

This is a good thing because if you’re anything like me, you’re not even capable of conscious thought when you’re brushing your teeth.

The good news is you already have a whole set of productivity habits you’ve built up over the course of your life. The bad news is, a lot of them aren’t very good habits.

That quick game Frogger to “loosen you up” before you get working, that always ends up being 6 hours of Frogger –– that’s a habit. And as you know, habits like that can be hard to break — which is one of the reasons why habits are so important in the first place.

Once you’ve replaced an unproductive habit with a more productive one, the new habit will be just as hard to break as the old one was. Getting there, though, can be a chore!

Advertising

The old saw about anything you do for 21 days becoming a habit has been pretty much discredited, but there is a kernel of truth there — anything you do long enough becomes an ingrained behavior, a habit. Some people pick up habits quickly, others over a longer time span, but eventually, the behaviors become automatic.

Building productive habits, then, is a matter of repeating a desired behavior over a long enough period of time that you start doing it without thinking.

But how do you remember to do that? And what about the things that don’t need to be habits — the one-off events, like taking your paycheck stubs to your mortgage banker or making a particular phone call?

The trick to reminding yourself often enough for something to become a habit, or just that one time that you need to do something, is to interrupt yourself in some way in a way that triggers the desired behavior.

The Wonderful Thing About Triggers — Reminders

A trigger is anything that you put “in your way” to remind you to do something. The best triggers are related in some way to the behavior you want to produce.

For instance, if you want to remember to take something to work that you wouldn’t normally take, you might place it in front of the door so you have to pick it up to get out of your house.

Advertising

But anything that catches your attention and reminds you to do something can be a trigger. An alarm clock or kitchen timer is a perfect example — when the bell rings, you know to wake up or take the quiche out of the oven. (Hopefully you remember which trigger goes with which behavior!)

If you want to instill a habit, the thing to do is to place a trigger in your path to remind you to do whatever it is you’re trying to make into a habit — and keep it there until you realize that you’ve already done the thing it’s supposed to remind you of.

For instance, a post-it saying “count your calories” placed on the refrigerator door (or maybe on your favorite sugary snack itself)  can help you remember that you’re supposed to be cutting back — until one day you realize that you don’t need to be reminded anymore.

These triggers all require a lot of forethought, though — you have to remember that you need to remember something in the first place.

For a lot of tasks, the best reminder is one that’s completely automated — you set it up and then forget about it, trusting the trigger to pop up when you need it.

How to Make a Reminder Works for You

Computers and ubiquity of mobile Internet-connected devices make it possible to set up automatic triggers for just about anything.

Advertising

Desktop software like Outlook will pop up reminders on your desktop screen, and most online services go an extra step and send reminders via email or SMS text message — just the thing to keep you on track. Sandy, for example, just does automatic reminders.

Automated reminders can help you build habits — but it can also help you remember things that are too important to be trusted even to habit. Diabetics who need to take their insulin, HIV patients whose medication must be taken at an exact time in a precise order, phone calls that have to be made exactly on time, and other crucial events require triggers even when the habit is already in place.

My advice is to set reminders for just about everything — have them sent to your mobile phone in some way (either through a built-in calendar or an online service that sends updates) so you never have to think about it — and never have to worry about forgetting.

Your weekly review is a good time to enter new reminders for the coming weeks or months. I simply don’t want to think about what I’m supposed to be doing; I want to be reminded so I can think just about actually doing it.

I tend to use my calendar for reminders, mostly, though I do like Sandy quite a bit.

More on Building Habits

Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

Advertising

Reference

[1] Getting Things Done: Trusted System

Read Next