This week, I observed something interesting that inspired this article. My television was turned on as I was working and as I took a few minutes break, I got lost in an old Olympic race that was showing. It was a 200m hurdle race. The runners were required to run, keep a fast pace while jumping the hurdle obstacles before them. I was strangely fascinated that although they clearly had a physical structure impeding their momentum, they kept going, unphased by the challenge. Of course, they had trained several times not only to be unbothered by the hurdles but to also keep up the pace. It is the same with life in our space of work and business and even in our relationships. We are challenged in every instance by a hurdle, albeit not physical. We face a lot of mental barriers that either cause us to slow down or give up totally. But with every challenging situation, there is always a solution.
Unlike a physical Olympic race with specific rules, in real life, we can knock down our hurdles, jump over them, run around them or take a totally different route. We are not limited by our problems. The limitation is in how we choose to perceive our problems. The bottom line is that we can either take the risk or get stuck in the phase of fear.
Every single person, no matter how confident they are, is always confronted with fear. It is a basic human reaction to things that test our survival or put us in a state of discomfort. Right before you make your decision to jump the hurdle or knock it down, a million questions begin to run through your mind. “What if I make this investment and it fails?” “What if I am unable to pass the interview and I lose my chance at this job?” “I am afraid of public speaking. Should I really get up to address this crowd?” Behind the hurdle, you feel limited. You are unable to release yourself and your thoughts. And you could get stuck in a cycle of continuous self-doubt.
Conversely, an alignment with high performance risk gives room for self-expression through soft skills. High performance risk is the path taken by people who are aware and in alignment with who they are. It is positive risk taken to deliver positive results consistently over a continuous and long-term period until it becomes one’s nature.
One of the major differences between people who stay behind the hurdle and those who jump is clarity and self-awareness. When you truly understand yourself from within, you can easily understand your environment through observation and determine what the best line of action is. What does it mean to seek clarity? Clarity comes from self-reflection and self-discovery through meditating and paying attention to your actions as well as interacting with people in your space and receiving constructive feedback. You will notice that hurdle after hurdle, these runners keep almost the same pace. It is the same in our lives. Doing the things that can get us success in consistent fashion is high performance. And despite the risks we may face, it is imperative that we keep at it daily. Only then would you be able to understand the amount of ground work necessary to achieve whatever goal it is you want. This process also requires a sharp sense of self-awareness, a state of cognizance of your personality, your thoughts, your beliefs and your emotions, your strengths and your weaknesses. It is a risk because you are imperfect as a human being with a lot of weak spots and shortcomings. However, high performance risk crosses the borders of comfort and pushes one into the zone of discomfort, propelling you to master the things you are not so good at and driving you to take a step towards overcoming your fears and challenges. Being self-aware is more of a toolset than simply a notion. When understood and used in full measure, you will be able to control your emotions and actions and make more thought provoking decisions which will essentially drive you in the direction of high performance risk.
The bridge between fear and high-performance risk is confidence. Self-confidence is the trust or belief in yourself. How can you be self-confident when you lack the toolsets to feel competent? One thing that is apparent in the work and business space is that people who have not just the charisma but the know-how for the job always come out on top. The walls may be placed on top of us by leadership and hierarchy and those that surround us because our inner fear restricts us in several ways. How does one begin to create loop holes in these walls and eventually break them down to make room for greatness?
In several work spaces, one can find employees and employers with the technical know-how on anything and everything. These individuals still suffer the syndrome of being cautious because they are deficient in soft skills. For a person to be the complete package in the field of work, soft skills must be as much a priority as knowing how to do the job. With soft skills such as confidence and people skills, the foundation to dare to take positive risks has been laid. Before you can move up from where you are, you must not only prove that you can do the job, you must also prove that you have the charisma to let others believe that you can. Being a good fit in terms of emotional and social skills is a requirement; a job many of us fail at. Why should you be given a position of leadership if you know how to do just your part and are unable to lead a team; to push them to take risks to achieve higher goals when you have never done the same for yourself? Why should you hold a position that requires you to be both knowledgeable in the theory of your job and also have good communication skills that will help you effectively communicate your ideas to a board of high ranking industry players? If you can bridge the gap between caution and risk, crack the walls and let your light shine through, your transformational journey in high performance risk would be a story worth telling.
Here are a few tips to start you off on the journey of high performance risk:
SEEK THE CHALLENGE:
One of the key steps to take on the journey of high performance risk is to position yourself in challenging situations. Whatever walls that have been created by external forces in your business space or internally by your thoughts and fears will only break down if you stand up, and face your fears. You can and should deliberately put yourself in positions that make you uncomfortable and mentally prepare yourself to do what it takes to be a master of that challenge. For instance, if you have difficulty working in teams, you should volunteer to be a part of a project that requires team work. Find creative ways and means of getting along with your team mates, develop listening skills and ways of communicating your thoughts without offending another party. It would not be a cake walk, but once you start and stay consistent while persevering for progress, you will become a great team member.
STRIVE FOR RECOMMENDATION:
Another key step to take in this journey is to make yourself relevant enough to be recommended by a client. What are the things that will set you apart in your space of operation and work? What soft skills can you acquire to be of value to yourself, your manager and the entire business? What qualifications do you need to have to make you the go-to person when emergent needs arise? Look at being an effective team player and a leader who leads to solve. Be clear and precise in your communication and speak to influence. Whoever you are and whatever you do should speak for itself in the traits you carry and in the work you deliver. Be satisfied with yourself by always striving to go the extra mile. That is one of the ways you can be noticed and pushed to swim new unchartered waters that will propel you into deeper depths of high performance risk.
Many people in business and work usually tend to be consumed by what they do such that they miss the opportunities around them. Do not get comfortable in the routine you have developed. Being well planned and organized is a plus when it comes to the world of corporate. However, spontaneity is a powerful force and an exciting mindset that can help you take risks. Be conscious and aware of your environment. Pay attention to the needs of others and help them find solutions. Read wide and be willing to join conversations that are outside the scope of your interests. The more you learn, the more aware you will become of the dynamic variety of businesses that require your competence and that can challenge you.
SURROUND YOURSELF SUPPORT ROCKS:
For any journey you are on, it is essential to have someone who has achieved whatever goal you want to achieve to mentor you and guide you. When you have someone who cares about you pushing you to do the things you have to do, you have a better chance of getting them done. Surround yourself with people who strive for progress and who press to be a better version of themselves in everything they do. This way, you will be reminded daily of purpose and stay awake to do what needs to be done.
If you do not back down from taking calculated risks and act in spite of your short comings you will soar to your greatest potential.