The power of being you

A performance mindset is the key...

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As a performance coach I get the opportunity to work with top performers from all industries including business, the fire service, sports, and even special operations. The goal can be summed up in one word - success. People hire a coach because they want to be more successful. And when you break down success, it often seems to be about power: developing your personal power, directing that power more effectively and doing this in a way to influence the behaviour of others.

Recently I was on vacation watching surfers riding unusually massive waves created by the power of a hurricane still hundreds of miles away - now that’s influence! As I watched them, I realised that there were many different styles. There were plenty who muscled their way out over the breaks and then threw their upper body around to stay on top of the wave. But there were also amazingly graceful surfers who glided out to get into position and then who dominated the huge waves simply by using the tiniest adjustments and balancing manoeuvres to cut into the curl. After an hour I realized that most of the latter surfers were female. What struck me was an interesting nuance of surfing. Both types of surfers were able to surf these waves but both used what they brought to the ocean that day - their personal strengths.

This reminded me of my time in the US fire service in the early 80’s. There were no female firefighters then because it was seen as a job of brute and brawn which had ‘no place’ for women. Over the years as attitudes changed, I went on to witness and work with many very successful female firefighters, captains, and chiefs. What surprised me was that the best ones didn’t try to only use their brute and brawn but instead (like the surfers) brought a certain grace and intuition to the job that was unique. There are so many different ways a person can find success.

Find the right mindset
Coaching high-achieving top performers, as I see it, is about helping people identify their personal strengths so they can best leverage them for success. In the long run this is about developing their performance mindset. First they really get to know themselves. Secondly, they create a strong self-image leading with those strengths, Next, they practice reframing any sabotaging or detrimental self-dialogue that will hinder their performance, Then, they learn how to properly prepare themselves (mentally and physically) for their peak performances, Finally, they accept that they are always learning and growing so they reflect often on what they are doing well and how they can be more effective.

Power can be defined many ways, but I have found that there’s nothing more powerful than learning to lead yourself so that you can lead others. This starts with your own mindset and it includes having the courage to be yourself. As I stood on the beach watching these surfers, I was amazed at the influence they could have on their surf boards so they could manoeuvre these huge waves in such a stormy ocean.

What are your strengths? How can you best use them to influence others? What do you do to develop your performance mindset and gain your inner power?

Scott Peltin

Leadership expert and co-founder, Tignum, -

Scott Peltin is co-author of ‘Sink, Float, or Swim’ and chief performance officer at Tignum, an international team that helps leaders work at their full potential. Prior to co-founding the firm in 2005 with Jogi Rippel, he held leading positions in the US fire service for 25 years. Scott works daily with chief executives and leaders at various levels large organisations to prepare them mentally and physically for the demands of high pressure jobs. Many of them are already pretty fit, but often they’re not fit enough. By ‘fit’ he means being in great physical shape, but having well above-average mental agility, alertness, energy, resilience and stamina. Tackling this isn’t just about effort, it’s actually about taking a smart approach and doing proactive work to develop resilience and the best mindset for continuous high performance under tough conditions. After all, we don’t take chances on testing and preparing the hardware and assets in business because we understand how to engineer them. Why then do we apparently still fear the challenge of ’engineering’ sustainable high performance in our most important, most exposed people?