Driving Higher Levels of Performance on the Corporate Racetrack
Karla Brandau, CSP,
Since the first auto race in the United States took place in Evanston,
Illinois in November of 1895, being the first to receive the checkered flag at
the finish line signifying a win is the ultimate success. Finishing first causes
heated competition in the racing world.
Do you want to distinguish yourself in your organization? Reach higher levels
of success? Get promoted? Then finish first.
Your organizational success is built on your ability to produce and be a
finisher. Finishing is a fine art made possible by the implementation of
fundamental success principles. When your internal motivation runs out of gas or
your mental energy gets a flat tire, use these principles to finish first:
Principle #1: Have passion for your work. Professional performers are
driven by their personal passion to achieve excellence, to be the best. Are you,
as a professional corporate performer, motivated by the same passion?
Taking this passion to the task level, what feelings or activities motivate
you to start a task? Is your motivation the excitement of learning, measuring up
to a challenge, or showing competence on the job?
Principle #2: Construct a clear picture of the finish line. Having a
clear picture of the finished product, the end, is critical to finishing first.
The knowledge of how many laps in the race or where the race will end is
essential to pacing your energy and resources.
Not only can a clear picture of the finish line help you pace physical
constraints, but you get a psychological edge when a lucid mental picture exists
in your head. As humans are goal seeking individuals, the picture of the
finished product in your brain moves you into action.
Principle #3: Tie production to definite time frames. Ambiguous time
frames lead to lethargic behavior and the inability to innovate and solve
problems. Adding exact time frames to the clear picture of the end product is a
powerful way to push productivity and destroy the lazy behavior caused by
After setting the deadline date to permit you to finish first, then decide
and set your midpoints. Know where you have to be at certain times in the race
to enable you to finish first with ease. Keep track of your deadline and
midpoint dates by putting them on your calendar and reap the benefit of letting
time frames drive productivity.
Principle #4: Focus on the stimulating part of your work. The human
physic craves learning and intellectual stimulation but no project is free from
some aspect of rote, routine work. Focusing on the stimulating part of the
project helps you feel connection to the highest level of Maslow's pyramid:
Self-actualization or creating the euphoric feeling of achievement comes from
developing innovative products and services by forcing new thought processes and
associations. As you generate original ideas and bring thought-provoking
proposals to your colleagues, you will breeze through routine work and find
exhilaration in exceptional production.
Principle #5: Use Your Pit Crew. Don't go it alone. When you get stuck
and stymied ask your team members, your pit crew, for help. In my personal
experience, team members, colleagues, and managers are genuinely interested in
helping you. In fact, most people are flattered that you trust them enough to
ask their advice.
Just running your ideas by a friend or verbalizing your thoughts is often the
catalyst to discovery and leads to closure on nagging problems.
Principle #6: Fly Your Own Checked Flag. A frequent question I ask my
audiences is, "Do you ever get enough praise?" This question brings blank stares
as brains begin to rapidly file through past experiences and then heads begin to
shake as they realize that most organizations are stingy with rewards.
I recommend that you learn to pat yourself on the back. Dangle your own
reward out in front of you. The compensation for completing a project could be
as big as a trip to the beach or as small as a Ben & Jerry's ice cream cone.
If you learn to reward yourself, you won't waste time waiting for people to
congratulate you on your hard work and rigorous attention to detail that
permitted you to finish first!