Posts Tagged ‘Performance’

Improving Performance – Why I Do What I Do

Monday, July 23rd, 2012

More than three-quarters of the workforce in America feel they are not performing at their best*. Fifty-three percent of the workforce are not engaged in their work**. Eight-five percent of people surveyed admit to performing at a 7 or less, out of 10***.

That drives me nuts! That’s what drives me to want to help individuals, teams and organizations perform better. That’s why I do what I do.

Imagine a workplace where three-quarters of the employees improved their performance by at least 10 percent. What would that do for your team, your organization, this country, you?

(* According to research by Yankelovich & Immerwahr; **Gallup Research; ***my own surveys while conducting workshops)

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The Pace of Business

Wednesday, June 2nd, 2010

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the pace of business, and how it’s so different for a variety of businesses. And different people.

It seems that there is an ideal pace that suits every person. Some perform at their best when they’re hustling quickly, and some perform best when they seem almost laid back in their pace.

What’s ideal for you? Do you need to pick it up a notch or two? Would moving a little quicker help you perform even better? Or do you need to slow your pace a little, and be more analytical and methodical?

The entrepreneurial spirit has a big impact on pace. Entrepreneurs seem to move at a faster pace than people in big companies. It may seem obvious that it’s because they have more to do – most entrepreneurs seem to wear more than one hat. But I’m not sure that’s always the case. It’s almost a chicken and egg scenario: Which came first, the faster pace that led to being an entrepreneur, or that being an entrepreneur meant working at a faster pace?

More and more large companies are trying to infuse an entrepreneurial spirit in their corporate culture, and that means picking the pace up a little. It’s putting challenges in place that force their employees to work faster; it’s encouraging a fast pace.

Having come from an entrepreneurial background, I find the pace of a larger company… well, just plain slow. I’m not saying it’s wrong, or bad. Just slow. And sometimes that is bad – sometimes it’s not.

What’s important is that you be aware of your pace, and determine if it’s appropriate. The fix – either speeding up or slowing down – is relatively easy. Just be aware of what your pace is like and compare it to what you think is appropriate. Then, dial it up or down as needed. Yes, it’s a conscious choice. It’s not something deep and difficult to change. Sure, some people are just more at ease in a slower world, and some in a faster-paced world. But either way, you can adapt.

Ask yourself these questions:

  • On a scale of 1 to 10, with 1 being very slow and 10 being super fast, what pace does the environment (your company, your team) currently operate at?
  • On that same scale, what pace do you currently operate at most of the time?
  • What is the ideal pace for you to operate at to perform at your best in your environment?

If there’s a difference between the answers to these three questions, imagine yourself either picking up or slowing down your pace. Imagine it, and then consciously dial it up or down. Performance and pace go hand and hand.

Flow & The Dangers of Writing

Wednesday, March 10th, 2010

A funny thing happened recently while I was driving a race car at about 170 MPH, and it was all about flow. As I arced the car through a turn, the sticky slick tires at their limit of grip, the g-forces forcing me to grit my teeth, running just inches from two other cars, a thought popped into my head: this is like writing.

Huh?

Yeah, driving a race car at the limit is like writing. Okay, writing is safer. I’ll give you that. Well, unless you poke yourself in the eye with a pen, get a paper cut or stub a finger on the keyboard. Or you’re writing while racing. That’s just crazy dangerous.

When I’m writing at my best (it could happen!), I don’t think. It just happens. It flows.

When I’m racing at my best, I don’t think. It just happens. It flows.

When I try really, really hard to write something, I get the same results I do when I try really, really hard to drive fast: garbage. The harder I try, the worse it gets. The more I relax and let it happen, the better my performance – racing, writing or whatever.

The challenge is trusting myself. It’s trusting that if I let go and don’t try that the results will come.

I’ve even asked myself, “If I can’t trust myself, how can I expect anyone else to trust me?” That thought usually triggers something. And that something is nothing. Does that make sense? The nothing is me trusting myself to not try, to just let it happen. It’s not getting in the way of a great performance.

Great performance comes from knowing when to push, to try, to work at it… and when to let go, to trust yourself that it will happen, to let it happen, to let it flow.

Have you ever observed someone trying too hard? Trying to impress others? Have you ever done that yourself? I have. Often it’s a lack of self-confidence that drives this behavior. But, when I’ve just said to myself, “Stop – trust yourself. You’ve got nothing to prove that trying harder is going to help. Relax” I begin to let go of focusing on what others will think and… I don’t think.

“Economy of movement” is a term that 3-time World Driving Champion, Jackie Stewart used to describe driving a race car. “The less you do, the faster you’ll be” is how I describe it. Simplicity and efficiency is key to driving a race car fast.

When commenting about a long letter he’d written, Mark Twain said, “I could have written a shorter version, but I didn’t have time.” Simplicity and efficiency. Great writing requires few words. ‘Nuff said.

Great performance is also about simplicity and efficiency. About letting go, about not thinking, about letting it just happen, about being in the flow.

Racing or writing or whatever.

My Turn to Perform

Wednesday, January 27th, 2010

I get to focus on my own performance this weekend, rather than other people’s. Okay, I suppose I do that all the time, but this weekend my performance will be a little more visible. I’m racing in the Rolex 24 Hours of Daytona race. Yep, driving for 24 hours. Well, not just me… I have three co-drivers. But as this is the biggest and most famous endurance race in North America (second only to Le Mans internationally), I better be at the top of my game!

Actually, I’ve been preparing for this race for the past three months – coaching myself (yes, at the race I’ll have my own coach). This being the 16th time I’ve competed in this race, and having won it once, I know what it takes… and yet I’m stupid enough to come back for more each year!!! I say that because it’s a brutally tough race to compete in – one that I’ve sworn I’d never do again a few times (why do I always forget that feeling when it comes time to do it again?!).

I’m racing a Porsche (can’t go wrong with a Porsche in a long distance endurance race) for the Bullet Racing Team (www.bulletracing.ca), which is based in my hometown of Vancouver, Canada (hey, I hear Vancouver has a little sporting event coming to town next month…).

There are two things that make this year’s race really special.

First, it’s an all-Canadian team. My co-drivers are fellow Canadians, all the crew members are Canadian, and the car is painted red and white with big maple leaves in the graphics. For any athlete, getting to represent your country is something special, and that’s how we’re feeling, being the only Canadian team at Daytona this year.

Second, we’re raising money for B.C. Children’s Hospital. For every lap we do during the race, we’ll be helping the sick kids. And yes, you too can help them by going to www.bulletracing.ca and clicking on the donate button and pledging your support. To know that no matter what happens during the race, we’ll win for the kids is an extra inspiration.

Preparation for a 24-hour race is not much different from preparation for any major event, sporting or business. Only this one takes a little more than usual because of how mentally and physically demanding it is. Preparation is not just one thing – it’s everything.

I have stepped up my fitness training considerably in the past three months, as well as my mental training. Building up my cardio stamina is important, but even more important on the physical side is muscle stamina. Not so much outright strength, but the ability to hold that strength for a long time. In 24 hours I will drive at least four separate stints, ranging from one-and-a-quarter to two-and-a-half hours in length. You may think that driving for an hour or two is not that difficult, but the physical strains from the g-forces will keep my heart rate above 160 beats per minute for the entire time. And just holding my head up straight, with the g-forces pushing on my head and helmet non-stop, is a challenge. Especially after going for 20 hours or so, with next to no sleep.

And then there’s the mental stamina… the mental strain. When I’m driving at speeds of up to 180 MPH with the car on the ragged edge of traction through the turns, I cannot afford to lose focus for even a fraction of a second. It’s unlike any other sport. The competition doesn’t just score a touchdown against us, or I miss the green with a chip shot. No, the consequences of the tiniest mistake are not pleasant. To keep that level of focus for that length of time is something that I train for.

I also prepare through mental imagery (visualization), for as many different scenarios as possible. For the past couple of months I’ve been imaging a variety of scenarios on the track. That does two things: If one of those scenarios occurs, I’m ready – in fact, I’ve already done it before, so I don’t even have to think about what to do. And most importantly, by mentally rehearsing beforehand, I just feel ready. I’m in a performance state of mind. When you consider that on the straightaways I’ll be covering the length of a football field in a second, you can see why being mentally prepared is so important.

There are many other mental preparation techniques that I use, too – techniques I use in my coaching, which comes from sports psychology, martial arts, neuro-science, and other disciplines.

So, it’s my turn to perform at my peak… in public. In fact, 19 of the 24 hours will be covered live on Fox and Speed channels this weekend. Or, online at http://www.grand-am.com/. And, feel free to follow me on Twitter (http://twitter.com/rossbentley) – I plan to tweet throughout the build-up to the race, and between my driving stints during the race.

Time to perform… I can’t wait… Watch this!

Focus: A Golf Lesson

Wednesday, January 20th, 2010

Sun beating down on my skin, a gentle breeze drying the sweat as quickly as it forms. Perfect weather for a day of golf. Standing on the 12th tee, a green cushion underfoot, and nothing but blue above. Through the first eleven holes I’ve shot the best round of my life. As I swing my driver to flex, stretch and prepare, my shoulders are loose. I’m calm. Confident. Ahhh, what a perfect day.

Setting the dimpled, white Titleist 3 on the tee, I step back and look up the fairway, taking in the beauty of the course. Pine and birch trees flanking fresh-cut grass, the tang of which as strong as bacon cooked over a campfire. Sunlight flickering off the birch leaves. Ahhh, what a day. Three ducks leave a wake in the subtlest of waves from the breeze on the water trap 75 yards ahead, between me and the green.

WHAT?! Holy crap! What is that, Lake Erie? Look at the size of that thing! Directly in front of me. Oh, come on – I don’t need that today. I’m playing the best round of my life. I don’t need this right now! Come on!

Okay, okay, just relax. Relax and focus. A couple of practice swings to make sure I don’t hit the ball into the water trap. Oops, did I tighten up my follow-through there? Better make sure I don’t do that when I hit the ball for real. Follow through. What’s that with my grip? Yeah, turn my grip just a little. I gotta hit this ball straight. And hard. Gotta get it over the water trap.

Yeah, that’s it. Drive the ball over the water. The water right there – get it over that. That’s all I need to do, and then I can go on with my best round ever. Damn, I hope I don’t hit my Titleist 3 in there. This is my favorite ball, the ball that’s helped me shoot the best round of my life so far.

I know, just in case I’ll use another ball. Swap my Titleist 3 on the tee with an old one – one of the Water Balls I keep in my bag just for these situations. Okay, there we go – that’s better. If I drive that old ball into the water, it doesn’t matter – I’ve still got my Titleist 3.

Okay, here we go. Time to drive this sucker over the water. Eye on the ball. Here we go… over that water trap. Hit it hard…

Damn! Oh man, that sucks – right in the water. Right in the middle, even. There goes my best round ever! Good thing I had my back up plan to use the old ball. But… Why did I have to mess up my great round?

Focus. It’s a funny thing, isn’t it? If we focus on something, we typically get it. Focus on a water trap and we drive the ball into it. Use a Water Ball and our brain knows what it’s supposed to do with it – hit it into the water. Or, focus on someone walking towards us on a sidewalk and (especially if the other person is focusing on us) we walk into each other. Focus on a problem and we get the problem. Focus on the back up plan and we need it.

Focus on where we want the ball to go and we hit over the water trap. Focus on the solution and we find it. Focus on making the plan work and we don’t need a back up plan.

Performance is all about focus. We can’t perform well if we’re focused in the wrong place. Whether on the golf course, in business, or wherever, focus on what you want.

Best Performance Award

Wednesday, December 23rd, 2009

The winner of last week’s Worst Performance Award is… me, for focusing on bad performance! So, this week I’m looking for nominations for the Best Performance Award. And just like last week, since it’s the first time I’ve done this, I’m open to any exceptional performance, no matter when it was.

I’m going to open the nominations with two of my own picks – the two most incredible performances I’ve ever seen in my life (and I was fortunate enough to watch them both live on TV).

The first is Franz Klammer’s gold medal winning performance in the 1976 Olympic Downhill event. He may have defined the term “on the edge” with this run. Click on http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tVMJKIx34SE to watch it for yourself. Desire and commitment are words that come to mind watching Klammer’s run.

If Klammer was the first to define “on the edge,” my second nominee made it a way of life. No one has ever driven a race car consistently on the edge like Gilles Villeneuve. And his performance in the 1979 French Grand Prix, in his epic battle for second place over the last couple of laps with Rene Arnoux is legendary. Arnoux was driving a Renault, which was a faster car than Villeneuve’s Ferrari, and yet Gilles’ pure determination, desire, commitment (and some would say his lack of fear) is no match. Click on http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dr_6mA8Q2tI – if this doesn’t get your heart pounding, well I don’t know what will!

So, there are two nominations from the sporting world to get you thinking. Use the comment form below and send me your nominations for the Best Performance Award – from the world of sports, music, business, whatever. It could be someone you’ve observed, someone you know, or whoever. Since I’ve had so many Worst Performance Award nominations from the business world, I’d love to hear about an exceptional one – someone must know someone who performed well in the workplace?!

By the way, I’m still getting the odd nomination coming in for the Worst Performance Award, so I’ll keep the nominations open for another week. That gives you time…

Excuse me now… I’m going back to watch these two performances again… and again. They’re so inspirational!

Happy Holidays!

Where Does Success Come From?

Tuesday, December 1st, 2009

SuccessWhat makes some people successful, and others not so? I’m mostly talking about in the business world, although it could be in any activity. What makes some people perform so much better than others? This is a question I’ve spent a lot of time – years, in fact – thinking about, and studying. I get excited just thinking about it, I’m so passionate about human performance. Okay, I may not be “normal,” but that’s just who I am.

So, what makes some people perform better than others?

Is it talent? Not entirely, if you follow the latest research (most of which is written about in the excellent book, Talent is Overrated, by Geoff Colvin). Sure, it’s important, but as I talked about in a previous post (The Myth About Natural Talent) it’s not everything. In fact, it may be much less of the performance equation than many people think.

Is it skills and knowledge? Well, one certainly needs skills and knowledge to do a job well, but is that the key? Have you ever met anyone who is extremely skilled and knowledgeable, but who doesn’t perform very well? Have you ever seen a person with an impressive list of accreditations and accomplishments fail at a new job?

Is it focus? You know, being focused on the right things at the right time? That’s important, isn’t it?

Is it motivation? Sure. But not without the skills and knowledge to do the job. And the focus. Motivated mayhem does not lead to great performance.

Is it fit – you know, fitting into the culture of the company or team? That’s part of it. But again, without the skills and knowledge, and without being aimed in the right direction, fit isn’t everything.

Is it personality? Hey, that’s important. I’m sure you’ve seen very talented, very skilled, very knowledgeable, very motivated people who fit the culture of the company or team who failed. Why? Because their personality sucked. Okay, maybe not that bad, but let’s just say their personality didn’t fit with their co-workers or teammates.

Is it the person’s manager (or sports coach)? Yes, the manager plays a big role in how well someone performs, and that is going to impact how much success they have – I talked about this in a previous post, too (How Important Is Management?). In fact, I’m sure you’ve seen poor performers who were transformed into superstars by a different manager, and vice versa. But is it just a person’s manager?

Is it communication? Without good communication, no one is going to perform very well, right?

Is it the person’s own mission being in alignment with the company’s mission? Very important. But is it the most important factor?

My point here is that performance is not a simple thing. It’s not just one thing. Of course, everyone knows that, right? Then why do so many people look for the silver bullet, that one simple thing that is going to transform themselves or others into superstar performers?

I’m sure I’ve missed many factors here that lead to great performance, and to success. This is one of those posts that provides more questions than it does answers, so I’m waiting to hear your thoughts…

How Important Is Management?

Thursday, October 8th, 2009

Within a one a week period of time I spoke to two different people who had worked as a store manager for Starbucks. Interestingly, one said it was one of the best jobs he had ever had, and the other said it was the worst. What do you think was the difference?

Many of the people who work for Starbucks love it. One wrote a book about it: How Starbucks Saved My Life. Wow, that’s an endorsement for a great place to work, isn’t it?! In his book, Michael Gates Gill talks about how it was the perfect job for where he was in his life. But there was something else that made his time as a barista so rewarding. His manager.

The person I spoke to lately who loved his time at Starbucks talked about how he interacted with his regional manager at least twice a week, with a weekly in-person visit to talk through the details of the business, and a monthly visit from the regional manager’s boss.

And while the regular interaction was important, what really made this a great place for this person was the feedback he got. He knew what he was doing right, and what he needed to better. It wasn’t a case of “No news is good news” – the NNIGN problem. In so many organizations, the only feedback a person gets is when he or she does something wrong; if they don’t hear anything from their manager they can assume things are okay.

Of course, the problem with the NNIGN management approach is that humans often assume the worst. If they don’t hear anything, they begin to think something is wrong, or they are doing things wrong. So, unless they go out of their way to ask for some feedback, they stumble around, hoping they’re doing a good job. That’s not the ideal state for a person to perform well in.

Actually, what often happens is this: “Dianne” does a great job on a project, but gets no feedback from her manager. Her boss has the attitude that she should do her job, and if something needs fixing, he’ll let her know. Since Dianne doesn’t know whether she did a good job or not, the next time she is faced with a similar project, she tries something different. After all, the first approach didn’t get a response, so she might was well try something different. Dianne approaches the project differently, and if she gets lucky, she hears nothing; if she does it wrong, she’ll hear about it, and likely become frustrated by not knowing how to do things right.

In their book, How Did That Happen?, Roger Connors and Tom Smith writes about a job satisfaction survey conducted by the U.S. military, where jet fighter pilots were at the bottom of the list and cooks at the top. Why? Apparently, the fighter pilots rarely received any positive reinforcement; it was only when they got a chance to do what they were trained to do that they received any. Cooks, on the other hand, received immediate positive feedback three times a day. People are more engaged in their work – and more satisfied – when they fully understand what they’re doing right, and receive positive reinforcement.

The person who said that Starbucks was one of the worst working experiences he’d ever had complained about this very situation – a manager that would only communicate with him when he had done something the manager felt was wrong. The only feedback he got was to point out all the things he’d done wrong.

One company, two completely different experiences. The only difference was the manager, and specifically the amount of positive reinforcement or confirming feedback the person got. Makes you think, doesn’t it?

Comfortable Being Uncomfortable

Wednesday, May 28th, 2008

Many race drivers drive in the comfort zone. None of these drivers are champions. Champions spend very little time in the comfort zone – at least not the comfort zone that most drivers would define. See, champions’ comfort zones are actually uncomfortable. They feel comfortable being uncomfortable. They feel comfortable pushing the limits. They feel at home just slightly over the limit.

I think successful business people are the same. They are most comfortable when they are pushing the limits of what others might perceive as “not possible.” When the common approach to a business issue or challenge is presented, they ask, “why?” Just because it’s been done that way in the past, doesn’t mean it has to continue that way. They’re always looking for a new and better method – they’re pushing the limits of perceptions. When faced with a “limit” – deadlines, revenue numbers, growth, etc. – they push into what many would feel uncomfortable doing. They are most at ease when they feel slightly stretched, slightly uncomfortable.

Notice I never said, “beyond the limit.” That would be out of control. That’s beyond being uncomfortable – that’s stupid! Great business people, like great race drivers, can balance on that edge – in fact, hanging just over that edge, but not falling off.

So, why are successful business people more comfortable being uncomfortable than the less successful? The same reason champion race drivers are comfortable being uncomfortable. It’s their programming. But where did the programming come from? That’s the real question, for if we know that, we should be able to replicate it.

Where does most of our programming come from? Experience – things that have happened in the past. That’s where most of it comes from. If you read about the careers of champion race drivers, you’ll find a common thread amongst most of them: A desire or passion to succeed combined with some period of time that just plain sucked. Few, if any, champions had a perfectly easy time on the way to the top. They had a childhood filled with struggles; they had a season or more filled with struggles; they had some length of time where things did not go well. But, where some would have accepted the situation, they pushed through – their desire and passion forced them to push through. And, in doing so, they enjoyed the feeling of living on the edge. Understand, this living on the edge may have been for a period of years, or for a few fractions of a second. Whatever the length of time, if you asked them today to describe it, they could in great detail. And that’s the difference between champions and everyone else – it’s what they have done with that time of struggle, that time just over the limit. They’ve used it to build their programming.

Successful business people are very similar. They’ve been through a “hell and back” situation at least once, and then used that to build upon their programming. Less-successful business people may have been through a similar situation, but it’s what they did with it that made the difference. The successful ones learned from it. I know, you hear that all the time about successful people – it’s what they learn from their experience that makes the difference. That’s almost a corny cliché. But remember what learning really is – it’s programming. It’s not being able to recite the “lessons” learned from the past. It’s having programmed those experiences. And I think that’s a differing factor – less-successful people can recite their lessons, while the successful ones have made it a part of their programming.

Successful people – whether in business, racing, or whatever – replay their uncomfortable experiences in their minds over and over. They not only see themselves pushing through it, but they feel the emotions of it, they feel the feelings they had, and they feel themselves enjoying it. They program feeling comfortable being uncomfortable. Less successful people may replay those same situations, but they feel themselves being uncomfortable – they program being uncomfortable being uncomfortable. Is it any wonder they like to stay in what it usually considered the comfort zone?

So, what’s wrong with feeling comfortable – what’s wrong with performing in your comfort zone? Your perceptions and expectations play a strong role in developing this comfort zone, and rarely are they going to match reality all the time. No matter how much experience and knowledge you and others around you have, things will not turn out exactly as planned. And guess what? You will rarely, if ever, exceed your perceptions and expectations. If you do, it’s more a matter of luck than anything else.

Golfers prove this all the time. They have the expectations of shooting an 85, for example, and then start off hitting the ball really well, playing “like magic.” In fact, they are playing so well, that if they kept it up they’d end up with an 82. Of course, you know what happens. Around the 14th hole (or earlier), when they realize what score they could end up with, they begin thinking about why they are playing so well, and stop relying on their programming to hit the ball. As soon as that happens, they hit the ball into the water, in a sand trap, or into the trees. They are lucky to end up shooting an 87, and they walk away thinking, “If only…”

If you’re comfortable only performing in your comfort zone, as soon as variables make it look as if you may have to operate outside that zone, you feel anxiety. You feel uncomfortable. And do you perform better or worse when you’re anxious, when you’re uncomfortable? The ironic thing is that you could still be in your comfort zone, but beginning to feel uncomfortable thinking about having to be outside that zone. In other words, you’re uncomfortable being comfortable, when you should be feeling comfortable being uncomfortable!

Do you have a past experience where you were a little over the edge? If so, replay it in your mind, over and over again. But see and feel yourself enjoying that feeling. You may have to give your imagination a real workout to get it to NOT feel uncomfortable being uncomfortable, but it can be done. If you can use your imagination to the point where you feel yourself get edgy – your blood starts pumping, your heart rate speeds up, your palms get a bit sweaty – then you’re really there. Imagine that – what a great feeling it is to be slightly over the edge of comfort, but you’re controlling it. You can stop it at any time, but you don’t because you’re enjoying the feeling of being slightly uncomfortable. You’re pushing the limits.

When you look at what you’ve committed to – deadlines, workload, revenue numbers, margins, expenses, processes, learning, etc. – are you slightly beyond the limit, or just at the limit?

Are you comfortable being comfortable right now?

Or, are you comfortable being uncomfortable? Are you stretched enough? Are you pushing the limits of your perceptions and expectations, and of others’ perceptions and expectations?

What is your comfort zone? Is it knowing that you can turn that lap time lap after lap? Or, are you on the ragged edge, not knowing for sure you can repeat it, but knowing that you’ll have such a lead that no one can catch you?

Do you need to do some programming of being comfortable being uncomfortable?

Commitment and Training

Monday, May 19th, 2008

I just returned from another trip to Australia where I was doing some coaching work. While I was there. I met and had dinner with a fascinating couple. He had won the US masters downhill ski championships a few years ago, so you can imagine how good a skier he must be. He and his wife had moved from their homeland of Austria to Australia in the 70’s to start a business, one focused on servicing the ski industry. Along the way, he has become one of the most knowledgeable people in the world regarding the biomechanics of skiers and their equipment (he has consulted to the Austrian national ski team for years).

Over a delightfully long dinner we talked about, amongst other things, what made some people superstars, why some people consistently perform at a very high level, and who the very best are and were in skiing and auto racing. In their opinion (with regard to skiers), Franz Klammer was probably the best of all time, but others like Ingemar Stenmark and Hermann Maier were right up there. Even though I have not seen the coverage of Klammer’s amazing downhill run to win the 1976 Olympic gold medal since that year, I can still picture most of it in my mind. I guess I’ve always been fascinated and drawn to peak performances, no matter what the discipline. Klammer’s gold medal run was one of the all-time great performances, in my opinion.

As this couple told me of their success in the business they created in Australia, building it up and then selling it a few years ago, I asked about some of the keys to their success (it was obvious they didn’t sell a business that was struggling!).

They told me of how they trained retailers about their products better than anyone else. They made sure sellers of their products didn’t just know about the features of their products, but they knew the intimate details of them. They knew the products inside and out. More importantly, the sellers used the product.

I wonder how many companies would be more successful if they made the level of commitment to training that this couple did with their business? It seems to me that many companies talk about training, and they even provide training. But I doubt many companies make the kind of commitment that my dinner hosts did, and to being successful.

As we sat overlooking Sydney Harbour in one of the nicest homes I’ve been in, I thought about Klammer and the training he committed to in order to win an Olympic gold medal… then I thought about what I was going to do next for personal training.