Performance versus Results

Which is more important to you: how you perform, or the results you achieve? Tough question, isn’t it? Sure, at the end of the day, it’s the results that people remember, especially in business. But, what leads to the results? Performance, right? Without a great performance, great results are unlikely.

As a race driver, results have been a big part of my life for a long time. As a race driver coach, if my driver doesn’t achieve results, I may not have a job for long. Throughout my life, I’ve competed in many sports, and at a pretty high level in some. People describe me as a competitive person – I love to win. Results matter to me – especially great results. When I hear a competitor talk about being happy with a second-place finish, I cringe – second place sucks. At least most of the time. Let me explain.

The one thing I’d wished I’d learned earlier in my life is to focus on my own performance, and let the results come from that. I wish I’d learned earlier that I can’t control my competitors, and I can’t control the results. The only thing I can control is my own performance, and in doing so, I will influence my competitors and the results.

It’s ironic that when you focus on the results, you often don’t perform at your best, and therefore don’t get the result you’re looking for. But when you focus on your performance, you are much more likely to achieve the results.

So, why does focusing on the result not lead to achieving them? Pressure, anxiety, over-trying, fear of failure, fear of success, tension – that’s just a few of the reasons. For example, if your focus is on a specific sales goal, and you feel the pressure to deliver, you often become tense and don’t perform as well as you could. You may become a little desperate to reach the goal, and resort to tactics that are not in the best interest of your performance. You may fear the consequences of not reaching the goal. All of these things will lead to a lesser performance.

If, instead, you were to focus on maximizing your performance, you are more likely to reach your sales goal. If you can imagine what your performance would need to look, sound and feel like to achieve your goals, then you’ve got something tangible you can work on. On a daily basis, if you’re focused on the result, you don’t necessarily know what it is you need to do to make that goal a reality. Sure, the result – looked at as a goal – helps direct you, and it can motivate you. But it doesn’t tell you how to perform to achieve the goal. Focusing on your performance – the details of what you need to do, and how you need to do it – gives you a specific behavior to follow.

Focus on your performance, and let the results come from that performance. When you do, second place may not always suck. If you perform at your very best, and you still finish second, you can at least know you’ve put everything you had into it – the competition was just a little better than you today. But if you finish second, and you did not perform at your best, then that sucks!

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