Performance Barriers

This past weekend I had a professional golfer visit with me. The PGA Tour Event is in my hometown of Charlotte and most of the top players are in town. This particular golfer feels like he is technically and physically in the best shape of his life, striking the ball beautifully with an array of shots and shot making. However, he simply was not scoring very well.  He wanted to know what the issue was.

So we went and played together.  Before the round, I gave him a score to shoot. During the round, I was incredibly disruptive to his game making noises, walking while he was hitting, and breaching almost all of the fine etiquette associated with golf. I disrupted his game and he never came close to the target score. Though he hit the ball well, he played as poorly as I have ever seen any professional golfer play — shooting well over par.

We sat down after the round.  He blamed his poor showing on fatigue, slow play, and me… though he knew what I was doing was intentional.  In our debrief, I told him that he was right in his assessment of the state of his swing, and golf game. In fact, he hit some of the most amazing shots I have seen in person ever. After the front 9, I had told him he better have a great back 9 to reach his target score and his response was, “Don’t’ worry, I got it.”  We had a wonderful debrief and he learned a great deal.

I thought about our round in the context of the workplace. How many of us are very good at what we do, but are failing at what we do or not getting the results we expect or others expect from us? Like the golfer, many of “workplace athletes” – high performers and high potentials – often end up fighting the wrong battles, losing the wrong wars, and compromising our very own skills.

Just as the golfer was distracted by things he should not be, many of us at work spend unforgivable amounts of time dealing with non-issues like political posturing, social maneuvering, and quite frankly, workplace gossip, innuendos, and hyperboles. The creative and emotional fuel consumption of these activities results in very draining days, and transfer of energy from high performance to making high quality excuses.

This week, take inventory of the reasons you have not or are not performing at a very high level. Seriously – write all those reasons down on a piece of paper. Look at them by the end of the week and score them in terms of how legitimate of a barrier each one should be to you and your performance.  Also score them based on how much energy and emotion those listed barriers consume from you. The first step in getting rid of them is not allow them to impact you… which I know sounds like the cognitive equivalence of “don’t worry be happy” but it really is a choice to allow these barriers (at least most of them) to have so much power over you and your talents. The golfer committed to having only one thought in this week’s tournament: “I will have no excuses.”  I urge you to do the same.

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10 responses to “Performance Barriers

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