Whenever a new employee joins the team, part of their on-boarding is to meet with key stakeholders and ask the typical questions around goals, projects, priorities, and tips or tricks.
I know they would love if I had a secret recipe of success that gave step by step directions on how to do their job, but I also know a recipe would not actually set them up for success. That would just make them a robot and my company is quickly developing those to take over all the button pushing parts of work.
What I tell them is that I’ve become and stayed a top performer by focusing on the following 3 things.
Be Curious George – My littles are obsessed with the cartoon Curious George. I have a lot of concerns about a grown man that only wears yellow, talks to a monkey, and continues to let said monkey destroy everything it touches time after time, but that’s beside the point.
George is curious about everything. He does not take anything for face value and genuinely wants to know how things work. He’s constantly aware of his surroundings and always trying new things, even when it seems scary and unknown.
Approaching every project with curiosity will set you apart from your coworkers. I don’t mean asking questions so you know how to prioritize or manage the project up, I’m talking about honest curiosity and quick action. Start looking at things from other angels and asking how it could be different and give it a try. Actions speak louder than words so trying 10 different things out of curiosity will get you the desired results a million times faster than 10 revisions of a 6 pager document.
For example, I was asked to figure out a way to drive engagement with my teams app. My companies’ standard practice is to write a 6-page document outlining your strategy, get approval on the document and then move forward. But I became curious and tested multiple different tactics in the span of about 2 weeks so when I went to present the doc, I have over 10 experiments that drove my strategy and eliminated room for churn due to differing opinions.
This leads me to my next point.
Have a failure goal. WHAT??? Yes, have a goal that specifically says how many times you are going to fail. This feels counter intuitive because top performers are not failures, but if we never fail, we never succeed. When we are so worried about failing that we never try, we have already failed. We just do it ahead of time.
Failing at something does not mean it’s a complete loss. It means you now have more data and information about what does not work and are one step closer to figuring out what does work. If you were a manager, would you rather have an employee that tried 20 different things that resulted in 1 small win or an employee that tried 1 thing that resulted in 1 small win? Which one is driving more data to influence the overall goal? Which one is more likely to find the thing that will make a large impact? When you are willing to fail, you will become invaluable to your team.
Lastly, mind your own business.
One of my favorite mantras is, “It’s none of your business what other people think about you.” What others think about you has way more to do about them than you. The bad and the good. Sure, we all love a fan base, but you know what really draws people to you? True confidence and having your own back.
When we are truly confident, we love and appreciate all the part of us. I’m not talking about the fake confidence most people at work try to portray (more on this in a different post), but I’m talking about really owning your good and not so good and telling yourself at the end of the day “it’s okay.” It’s working from integrity and when you screw up and fail, still being proud that you showed up and did your best.
Think about some of the people you respect most. Are they perfect? Are they confident? When you are willing to show people your good and not so good side without being defensive and still have skin in the game, nothing can hold you back.
My first manager at my company was a great example of this. She had accidently typed in the wrong price of an item and we quickly blew through all of our inventory and lost a ton of money. This error was called out during our weekly business review and had to be addressed with senior leaders. My manager owned up to the mistake and moved on. She did not make it mean she was horrible at her job or never going to succeed. She just stated the facts and worked to improve the process to remove room for human error. She has since gone on to be promoted multiple times and continues to be a top performer.
There you have it folks. The way to be a top performer is simply to be you.
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