I was talking to a client, Sarah, the other day about her desire to move her team’s performance from ‘generally pretty good’ to ‘excellent’. As part of this conversation, we decided to list the behaviours of average teams (or individuals) to give Sarah an idea on how to encourage even better performance in her team. By the end of the session, the walls were covered with sticky notes and she had some great plans for her upcoming team day.
So if you want to be average, may I suggest (with my tongue firmly in my cheek) that you try some of the following?
1 Remember to criticise yourself often
It’s too easy to confuse humility with undermining ourselves. If you don’t believe in your skills and expertise, why should anyone else? Remember Henry Ford’s words –
‘Whether you think you can, or you think you can’t – you are probably right.’
2 Never leave your comfort zone
It seemed to us that one of the best ways to stay average was to never push yourself to take a risk or learn anything new. No-one is ever an instant expert but if you don’t step out of your comfort zone occasionally to begin the process of learning a new skill, you’ll never be an expert.
3 Perpetuate a blame culture
When our first response to every problem is ‘who can we blame?’ or ‘how can we shift the blame?’, we’re not learning, developing or making progress. The almost inevitable result of this is that the problem will repeat itself until someone takes responsibility and looks at what we need to learn as a result of a particular issue.
4 If at first you don’t succeed, never ever try again
Whilst the actual wording of the quotation is disputed, Thomas Edison said something along the lines of
‘I have not failed 10000 times. I’ve succeeded in proving 10000 ways how not to build a light bulb.’
Persistence is a key ingredient of excellence. To escape the average, we have to keep on keeping on – we need to learn from failure and have another go. And another. And maybe even another.
5 Believe that you’re perfect
The flip side of point one is to delude ourselves with the thought that we’re the best we ever can be. If we do this, we stagnate and to fail to look for opportunities to grow and develop: a recipe for being average.
6 Be a shrinking violet
Average goes unnoticed and is overlooked. Excellence steps up and stands out. This isn’t about ‘hey, look at me!’ attention-seeking: it’s about taking appropriate opportunities to offer your (or your team’s) abilities and expertise when the occasion arises.
7 Refuse to believe that change is possible
‘Ah, we’ve always done it like that. The powers that be aren’t going to let us change that process after all these years‘ or ‘It’s just the way I am, I can’t change‘ are the types of sentences that perpetuate average performance. We can all change – whether it’s ourselves who need to change or the processes we use. We need to examine the current situation, see how it can improved and take responsibility for that improvement.
Those are just some of the ideas Sarah and I came up with: I’m sure you can think of many others.
Today’s pebble for you to contemplate: do you recognise any of these ‘average’ behaviours? If so, what steps will you take to eliminate them?
What do you think?
ps I’m taking a blog break for a couple of weeks – back in March.
Turning over pebbles is the blog of Thinking Space Coaching.
If you’d like to take action and create positive change in your work and life, why not email me to see how we could work together?