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Businesswoman Star Performer

Help Others Achieve and Succeed!

Disengaged employees often appear to lack commitment. In reality, many of them crave re-engagement. Many are high-achievers just waiting for the opportunity to step out in the spotlight and become Star Performers. No one enjoys working without passion or joy.

While many factors cause disengagement, the most prevalent is feeling overwhelmed (or, conversely, underwhelmed). Disconnection and overload pose obstacles to performance and yet often go undetected or ignored because neither qualifies as a disciplinary issue.

Meanwhile, business owners and executive leadership teams try to work around such problems, hoping for a miraculous turnaround or spark that re-ignites energy and drive. They try incentives, empowerment programs, or the management fad du jour.

I have seen many “quality”, “customer-experience”, and “employee-engagement” programs come and go in the past few decades.  As business owners and executive leadership teams search for the next best thing, they often overlook the essential key to making these programs deliver on promises – providing conditions that help people achieve and succeed.

Sparking Flow Moments in the Workplace

While it’s impossible to spark flow moments all day long, you can greatly improve your ability to help others achieve peak performance. In the 21st Century, you don’t need carrots or sticks and command and control management is obsolete – that’s progress!

You can’t sprint to peak performance, the brain needs careful management and rest. Brain science tells us that as knowledge workers, we need to manage our thinking minds with care.  No surprise that workplace health and safety standards and programs now recognize mental and emotional health as a key to maintaining a productive workforce.

You cannot expect a human being to sit at a desk for hours and produce quality work without providing these essential elements:

  • Food
  • Rest
  • Brain FatigueHuman engagement
  • Physical movement and exercise – a physical stretch
  • Challenge – a mental and intellectual stretch

We often forget that thinking is hard work. If you work too many hours, your brain’s supply of neurotransmitters will be depleted, and you won’t be able to sustain top performance. Without proper care, the brain will under-perform—and brain fatigue mimics disengagement and lack of commitment.

Emotional Intelligence and Peak Performance

Peak performance also depends on how we feel as individuals and is a by-product of our overall well-being.  The Well-Being Indicator in the EQ-i 2.0 Model of Emotional Intelligence includes self-regard, optimism, interpersonal relationships, and self-actualization.  Individuals with high levels of well-being exude cheerfulness at both work and play while participating in activities that they truly enjoy.  They experience and contribute passion and joy.  Add optimal working conditions and you have the ingredients for sparking flow moments.

What do you think about this?

  1. Are you providing optimal working conditions for your people to find flow moments in their work? Are you bringing out the best in them?
  2. What is the affect of individual well-being on your organization’s well-being?  What is the toll of low well-being?
  3. How would your employees and organization benefit from creating an environment that sparks flow moments and nurtures peak performance?

Related resources:

Stay Positive




TiredI am so tired of the misleading headlines misrepresenting the statistics on the state of the American Workplace (and by close association, the Canadian Workplace).  We all need to temper the media’s negative spin with our best critical-thinking before jumping on the bandwagon to despair or surging forward with engagement and retention strategies that just don’t work in today’s workplace.

Yes, Gallup’s 2013 State of the American Workplace Report does state that only 30% of the U.S. workforce is engaged and inspired at work.  20% are actively disengaged meaning that they are miserable and actively spreading discontent however they can. The remaining 50% are passively disengaged.  Quite different from being actively disengaged, they are simply not present, not inspired, and most likely demoralized by the latter 20%.

Canadian Workers Concur

Canadian Flag

In 2012, Towers Watson conducted a study of employee attitudes and concerns around the world. Canadian workers (albeit a small sampling) presented similar statistics – 33% of Canadian workers are sustainably engaged – disturbing because sustainable engagement affects absenteeism, presenteeism (being there, but not all there), and retention.  24% of Canadian workers are considered “the unsupported” – willing to put in the effort, but held back by organizational barriers to excelling and reserving energy (capability and capacity).

The Positive Spin – The Opportunity

Looking for the positive spin?  There’s huge potential to optimize our workforce. Well over 50% of employees in the U.S. and Canada crave opportunities to achieve full potential, experience peak performance moments, and achieve sustainable high performance. This is where we need to focus our attention – managing the personal growth of the 50+%.

Need more proof? 

  • Gallup’s research shows that employee engagement remains flat when unmanaged.
  • Towers Watson’s research shows that the steps that organizations are taking to improve engagement are falling short.
  • Current market research and statistics suggest that personal growth is a 64 billion dollar industry worldwide.  People are making the investment themselves.

The Disconnect

Clearly, the disconnect is between what today’s workers understand about their potential and what most employers are failing to recognize and value.  If employers cannot recognize and value potential, they are unable to bring out the best in their employees.

How do you bring out the best in your employees – especially for those who have the capacity and capability to be high performers, but have lost their spark and slipped into apathy?

For the majority of our executive team clients, this seems to be the number one critical challenge at the moment: keeping people actively engaged and passionate about their work to maintain levels of high performance.

Invasion of the Workplace Zombies

How do some executives and managers seem to have a knack for kindling peak performance in people and maintaining high performance, while others complain, “We are surrounded by zombies.”?

For those feeling invaded by zombies, a better understanding about peak performance and how to optimize peak-performance experiences will enhance their ability to bring out the best in their employees.

What is Peak Performance?

Peak performance is a combination of:

  • Excellence
    • Most leaders and managers want their people to achieve excellence at work.  Contrary to the beliefs of those who claim to be surrounded by zombies, employees want to achieve excellence at work as well.
  • Consistency
    • Employees look for consistency in expectations from and in their leaders and managers. Consistency reserves energy for better things – like improvement!
  • Ongoing improvement
    • Tapping into energy reserves to identify and implement ongoing improvement keeps employees fresh, engaged, and passionate about their work.  The added workplace benefits are improved relationships with co-workers, customers, and with their employer. “We’re all doing better together.”

Conditions for Peak Performance

The conditions for achieving personal peak performance differ for each person. To achieve peak performance, each person must take personal responsibility for identifying and finding the right job, tasks, and working environment that match his or her strengths

Facilitating the right fit is management’s responsibility. This is now recognized as one of the most crucial leadership and management responsibilities and it takes skill. While each employee has the potential to deliver peak performance, it’s up to management to find ways to make it happen.

How to Optimize Peak Performance Experiences

In the flow

Peak performance is easy to detect when it happens. In his book Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience (Harper Perennial Modern Classics, 2008), psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi describes the experience of working at optimum levels as a state of “flow”. People report that while experiencing a state of flow, they typically lose themselves in the project, meeting, or discussion. They may lose track of time and space. Flow feels effortless, yet energizing.

I relish such moments in my work and I know, I am not alone.

Those “flow” experiences are difficult to purposefully replicate.  As a leader or manager, you may often struggle to find the right words to rekindle motivation in people who appear to have lost their enthusiasm.

It’s even more frustrating when you know that your employees are capable and talented, yet you observe apathy in your workplace.  Your employees seem to be just going through the motions like zombies, without enthusiasm or joy.

Peak performance can be re-ignited to provide those optimal experiences in the workplace for everyone.  A combination of personal responsibility and management responsibility will rekindle the spark for peak performance and provide a foundation for sustainable high performance.

Take Action




Last week, I attended the WEBENC conference in Minneapolis, Minnesota as part of the Canadian delegation of WEConnect International. Always learning; always growing; and always  seeking opportunities to be in the company of high-achievers.

Target Field, Minneapolis, MN.  Home of the Minnesota Twins. Welcoming WEBENC Participants

Target Field, Minneapolis, MN. Home of the Minnesota Twins.
Welcoming WEBENC Participants

With thousands of women business owners from around the globe ascending on the Twin City area, hotels were at full capacity.  This provided an interesting personal challenge upon arrival when I learned that the B&B I booked into had been without power for three days due to a major power outage. The owners had no idea when power would return.  Although they risked revenue loss for the week on top of other losses, they scrambled to find alternative comfortable accommodation for me. They even chauffeured me to my new accommodation.

At the Embassy Suites, the staff rallied to serve my need for a room and soothe my weary soul. Every employee I encountered was empowered to make my stay comfortable, pleasant, and less stressful. They empathized and understood that living day-to-day with uncertainty (not having a place to stay) would affect my ability to enjoy the conference and their lovely city.  A day did come when there was no vacant room. As I was leaving the hotel, a staff member, Kristin, came to my rescue.  Kristin miraculously found a vacant room which guaranteed my stay throughout the rest of the week.

Safely back home and upon reflection, I recalled that rooms were given to some staff members because their own homes were without power. I suspect that Kristen gave up her own room. At the very least, I suspect that she took a stand to make things right for a guest.  Probably risking personal and professional consequences, she tapped into her own wisdom and judgment of what was best given the complexity of the situation.  She made a high-stress decision indicative of a Star Performer and a testament to her strength of character, personal leadership, and engagement in her profession.  Her decision is worthy of my glowing feedback, testimonial, and review.

The following feature article focuses on development of character, wisdom, and virtue – the markers of Star Performers and critical to taking the high road.

Developing Character and Wisdom

Mediocrity is the gateway to disengagement and boredom. To sustain high level of achievement, we each need to be continually learning and growing in spite of uncertainty and anxiety. Growth in character and wisdom is paramount to developing Star Performers who will make decisions based on what is “right”.

Anyone in a leadership role faces high-stress decisions each day. In the absence of a consistent commitment to growth and development of Star Performers in leadership roles, executive teams are prone to create a culture of “groupthink.”

With groupthink, group members try to minimize conflict, avoid consequences, and make decisions without critical evaluation of alternative ideas and viewpoints in complex situations. The safe road beckons strongly when there is accumulative stress and rising risk. The fear of stepping out of the group with a better way or speaking up for what is right holds many high-achievers back.

The Bumpy RoadBumpy Road

High-achievers travel a bumpy road.  They want to maintain the best path for their careers and yet still want to support organizational goals. Knowing how to navigate these tough environments is crucial for any achiever who wants to ascend to the top ranks and become a Star Performer.  A significant challenge for high-achievers is knowing who and when to ask for help and feedback to stay on the “high road”.  It takes development of character, wisdom, and virtue to stay on the high road.

Knowing what is the right thing to do is at the heart of personal and professional leadership.

History requires leaders to find and do the right things, in the right way, against the right time frame. It requires them to develop the capacity for executive wisdom and the ability to deploy it. It requires that they both see and pursue the development of virtue in their own characters.

Leaders routinely face situations for which they have no rules to guide them and all too often for which they have little or no knowledge. In these circumstances, they are always anxious and face incredible pressures to behave badly because they more often do not know what they do not know. Almost nothing is more difficult, anxiety arousing, and humiliating than for a leader to admit that he or she does not know the right thing to do.

~ Richard R. Kilburg, Executive Wisdom: Coaching and the Emergence of Virtuous Leaders, APA, 2006

Developing character, wisdom, virtue and true expertise in any domain takes time, a determined spirit, and the courage to act and then be accountable.  The high road is rife with risks and anxieties. BUT, it can be an exhilarating experience with opportunities for star performance.

Optimizing Performance for the High Road

Reflecting on my recent personal travel experience as an analogy, the journey can be less stressful in spite of the risks and anxieties.  Consider how a safe environment provided by a professional coach can help your high-achievers develop their character and wisdom and navigate the high road with high performance.



As an avid reader of Success magazine and follower of its publisher, Darren Hardy, I was drawn to Darren’s webinar “Productivity Secrets of Super-achievers” that was part of the 2013 World Business and Executive Coach Summit preview.

CEO Time Productivity

Did you know?

  • the average CEO logs about 28 minutes of genuine productivity each day;
  • 28% of productive focus is wasted on multi-tasking (switching focus);
  • switching your focus causes a 10-point drop in your IQ;  and
  • recovery from each time you switch focus takes 15 minutes.

Following these statics, Darren shared his concept of bookending the day: a formulated routine at the beginning and end of each day to get control of your attention.

  • The morning bookend includes inspirational activities and calibration (review) of long-term objectives and most valuable priorities (MVPs) followed by a 90-minute sprint working on your #1 MVP.
  • The evening bookend includes a review of the day, prep for the following day, choosing your #1 MVP for the next day, and closing with an inspirational activity like journaling or reading (no NEWS).

Like other great concepts, bookending is simple, but not easy. It needs to become routine and automatic just like brushing your teeth.  When the practice becomes automatic it frees up physical, mental, and emotional energy.  The concept is ideal for re-energizing high-achievers, encouraging periods of discipline followed by intermittent recovery to increase productivity and satisfaction of accomplishing what’s most important!  I’ve added bookending to my daily practice and it’s working. Read more about re-energizing your high-achievers in the following feature article.

Releasing Traps to Re-energize High Achievers

Following up on the last article, Releasing the Traps That Cripple Star Performers, this article concludes the 6-step plan for helping high-achievers come off their plateaus and re-energize their careers. Before moving forward, let’s revisit the first two steps:

  1. Forget the past: past achievements – and failures – to concentrate on what’s needed next.
  2. Develop and use a support network: a support network of peers, mentors, and a coach.  Being willing to ask for feedback can put high-achievers in touch with recurrent themes about what’s working, what’s not working, and what needs to change.

Further to the second step, before people will help with honest and valuable feedback, high-achievers need to create trust. That’s where the following steps come into the plan for your high-achievers.

Become approachable in a high-achiever way:  Asking questions does not imply ignorance as long as the questions are phrased correctly. High-achievers need to learn how to ask questions. We all need to explore different perspectives and learn more about others’ opinions and thoughts.  Acknowledging uncertainty and being open to sharing missteps reveals our human side.  When we are more willing to show our human side, we become more approachable and trustworthy. Opening up to others with sincere intention to learn, sends a powerful message. Others will reciprocate with their own stories, and will be more willing to help.

Focus on the long term, but concentrate on next steps:  Long-term success requires a willingness to take short-term risks. Fear of failure or fear of appearing inept can stop high-achievers from taking chances. They must be willing to leave their comfort zone to complete the new tasks required for changing career demands. Long-term goals can withstand minor setbacks.  Encourage your high-achievers to look at the big picture, and give themselves the necessary latitude to make a few missteps along the way.

Stay PositiveAdopt a positive mindset:  Recent studies reveal that a happy positive mindset is a prerequisite for success — not a by-product. When we approach a project by focusing on what’s good about it, we set ourselves up for great results. By framing an assignment as a challenge instead of a problem, high-achievers are better able to think calmly and creatively. When given extra work, we all have two choices: feel put upon and overloaded, or take satisfaction in knowing we are trusted to get the job done. Encourage and empower a positive mindset culture by modelling a positive mindset yourself.  During a time of incredible change and uncertainty, this particular leadership behaviour is critical in the workplace and in our communities.

Embrace humility, practice, patience, and mastery:  Doing something thing “not so well” is painful at first, but well worth the effort. Practice and patience is the foundation for growth and mastery. The real satisfaction comes from working through challenges in order to really master a behaviour, skill, or task. Mindless routine and easy success can be a set-up up for stagnation, boredom, and dissatisfaction.

Help your high-achievers move their game to the next level or in a new direction. Encourage them to be willing to exhibit vulnerability and even humility. People in general, high-achievers in particular, often hesitate showing their human side for fear people will see them as weak or incompetent.  Au contraire, to not share mistakes and missteps carries the risk of coming across as an arrogant know-it-all.  Not at all approachable or trustworthy.

Professional growth takes practice and patience. Provide opportunities for your high-achievers to move beyond their comfort zone and enjoy success at a new level.

For more about these steps, I suggest the book Flying without a Net: Turn Fear of Change into Fuel for Success, by Thomas J. Delong, Harvard Business Review Press, 2011.

Riding on the high of achievements early last week, I sat at my desk one morning to catch up on email.  An email came in with reviews from workshops that I facilitated recently.  Good news!  High scores. Nine positive comments!  Oops, a negative comment.  For the next couple of hours, I obsessed over the criticism, took it personal, and became immobilized.  Ignoring the positive feedback, I plummeted to a crippling low. I focused on what was negative rather than what was positive.

Then my “AHA” moment hit.  How prophetic!  I have been blogging about high-achiever behaviours that lead to traps and I had fallen into two very real traps myself.  Fortunately, I had a call scheduled with my coach and an opportunity to release the traps.

The following feature article begins our review of the 6-step plan for helping high-achievers avoid the behaviours that become traps.


Releasing the Traps – One Step at a Time!

The very strengths that lead high-achievers to the fast track can steer them toward poor performance. This paradox can be perplexing to high-achievers. Working through the strong pull of this contradiction is where a trusted professional coach is necessary.

High-achievers who have fallen into a high-potential career stall need and will appreciate a plan to get back on track for career success. A plan that includes strengthening personal foundation will work two-fold, personally and professionally.  Working with a professional coach and integrating their overall development plan will expedite the process and fortify sustainable results.  The following elements will serve as a springboard to creating Star Performers.

That Was Then; This is Now

Forget the past: In general, most of us make irrational comparisons between a past bad experience and a current situation. We are notoriously poor predictors of our future emotional states. 
Most of what we surmise about our past failures is circumstantial.

Several of the typical behaviours of high-achievers are breading grounds for comparing and measuring today based on yesterday. Bringing light to how much the high-achiever is basing his/her career decisions on past experiences, either good or bad, and the effects is an important part of the coaching process. The high-achiever is challenged to look at the past with a different perspective — one that takes into account randomness or luck.

We are never in control of situations as much we think.  Blaming — or crediting ourselves — is often irrational and inappropriate. Sure, we’ve accomplished great things and we’ve made mistakes. That was then; this is now.  What counts is stepping up to learn new tasks and skills. An open mind — one that is willing to admit limitations, as well as strengths — is a mind available for new challenges.

Coaching around conquering the fear of making new, and inevitable, mistakes will mobilize the high-achiever. Too much reliance on the past will stifle the courage needed to “fail upward” and use missteps as learning opportunities for growth.

No Need to Do It Alone

Develop and use a support network:  High-achievers who pride themselves on being independent self-starters have difficulty asking for help for several reasons.

They rationalize with self-talk such as “I don’t want to bother people unnecessarily”. 

They may fear feedback because they don’t want to risk hearing that their work is not up to par.  They may even choose to consult a colleague who they know will tell them what they want to hear. 
If so, they are hurting their chances of stretching and growing.

Challenging the high-achiever to ask respected individuals for regular feedback, even if it’s painful at first, will expand his/her comfort zone. 
Having a structured feedback process with a supportive network of people who are respectful and honest will make feedback easier to accept and process.

Additional support from an experienced mentor who is familiar with the high-achiever’s work can provide valuable feedback and input to the following questions posed by the high-achiever:

a.   What do I need to stop doing?

b.   What do I need to continue doing?

c.   What do I need to start doing?

Questions to Ponder:

  1. What has been your experience getting good feedback to improve your performance?
  2. What worked?
  3. What hindered your progress?

Call to Action:

  1. How can you create an environment that supports your quiet high-achievers in releasing the fear of “failing up”?
  2. What additional support can you provide to make feedback easier to receive and more effective?

Related topics:

Why coach credentialing is important.



While mentoring young women in a leadership and social action program over the past year, I observed several high-achievers transform into Star Performers. They were the quiet ones….just waiting for someone to recognize their potential and for the opportunity to shine.

Quiet high-achievers have so much to contribute. However, often anxiety about their performance keeps them small and invisible. Identifying these high-achievers, understanding the traps that hold them back, and then implementing personal development and leadership plans are keys to developing them into Star Performers.

Bringing Star Performers to Centre-stage

The Girls for Safer Communities program empowered this group of young women to challenge the traps that often hold high-achievers back.  Over the year, through self-assessment, purpose-driven team action, and mentoring, they gained confidence in their personal power and strengthened their voice within their community. I was inspired and grateful for the opportunity to watch them as they ventured onto centre-stage.

Similarly, when working with business owners and executives, I notice the quiet high-achievers. Many have the potential to become Star Performers and yet are being held back by behaviours that become traps. I am inspired when a high-achiever commits to a personal development and leadership plan that acknowledges the strengths and helps address the traps of high-achievers. I receive an enormous source of satisfaction when these quiet high-achievers take their rightful place as Star Performers at centre-stage.

Investing in Developing Star Performers

More and more clients acknowledge that on-going investment in developing Star Performers delivers significant returns to their top-line business growth and reflects (quietly) on their bottom-line profit.  Do you have Star Performers ready to step out to centre-stage?  A development and leadership plan that includes Emotional Intelligence is a wise investment.  80% of workplace success is attributed to Emotional Intelligence (“Star Performer Study” by Hay/McBer).

8 Typical Behaviours of High-achievers - Watch for the Traps

Your high-achievers may exhibit several or all of the following eight typical behaviours that can spur personal and professional growth, but can also be traps that hold them back.

  1. Driven: Think of employees who are driven to achieve their own personal and professional goals and your organization’s goals. Nothing gets in the way of their goals.  The trap is that they become so caught up in goals that relationships get pushed aside and they miss the opportunities to contribute to what is most important in the present.
  2. Doers: They do it well; they do it quickly. However, because nobody can do it as well or as quickly as they can, they may appear bossy, alienate co-workers, or drift into poor delegation, micromanagement, and solitary overwhelm.
  3. Highly motivated: They take goals and achievement seriously. The trap is that they fail to see the difference between urgency and importance. They overlook what’s really important about the experience – personal development, relationships, and other elements that give them a source of satisfaction at work. This can lead to burnout and dropout.
  4. Crave positive feedback:  They are, simply, addicted.  They care how others perceive them and their accomplishments. However, they tend to obsess over criticism, take it personal, and become immobilized. They often ignore positive feedback and hence, miss opportunities to build on their strengths.
  5. Competitive:  They may not appear to be competitive at all. They possess a quiet competitive nature that contributes to growth if they are encouraged by effective leader to compete in a healthy, productive way.  The dark side of the high-achiever competitive style is that they obsessively compare themselves to others leading to a chronic sense of not being good enough and acute unhappiness.
  6. Passionate about their successes:  They feed on the highs of their successes – but, again, quietly.  Their passion is often bubbling up with high highs and crippling lows.  Subjected to crippling lows, they fall into the trap of giving more attention to what’s lacking (the negative), rather than what’s right (the positive).
  7. Safe risk-takers: They won’t cause you to go grey with the risks they take.  However, because they are so passionate about success, they shy away from risk. They won’t stray far from their comfort zone in order to grow which really puts a damper on what they could achieve if risk was reframed.
  8. Conscientious:  They won’t let you down. On the flip side, they are guilt-ridden. No matter how much they accomplish, they believe it’s never enough. Their need to have and do more is insatiable. This need will drain their energy. As they complete one milestone, they are onto the next. No pause to fully appreciate the joy of achievement.

Questions to Ponder:

  1. Do you recognize the quiet high-achievers in your organization who could venture out to centre-stage?
  2. How are these traps showing up and holding them back?
  3. What could these high-achievers contribute to your organization if you empowered them to step out and leave their comfort zone?

Call to Action:

  1. How you can provide opportunities for your quiet high-achievers and empower them to become Star Performers or even Rock Stars. They would certainly make you look good and they would enjoy their work much more.

8 Behaviours of high-achievers based on “The Paradox of Excellence” (HBR, June 2011) by Thomas J. DeLong and his daughter, Sara DeLong.

The Girls for Safer Communities (GFSC) is a program activity which aims to increase awareness about safety concerns of girls and women while mobilizing girls to become leaders in their communities. Pathfinders and Rangers receive leadership and safety training that prepares them to lead their peers or younger Units or community members on group safety audit walks to identify safety concerns in their communities. Girls go on to work with members of the community to make recommendations and create action plans that will improve safety.

MHS – Emotional Intelligence and Leadership



I love my office technology! My colleagues, family, and friends consider me to be a “high-achiever” when it comes to setting up and trouble-shooting my own techno tools and toys. In fact, I have been known to thrive on the challenge.

Meet My Nemesis

Gestetner Duplicating Machine

Last week I met my match – a wireless all-in-one printer/scanner/copier – an evolution of the complicated Gestetner Duplicating Machine shown here.  The instructions were just as complicated and in tiny print as seen here.

I spent a lovely afternoon coaxing this new printer to say hello to my network. I finally threw up my hands and prepared myself for packing up the printer and returning it the next morning.  I retreated to a technology time-out in order to cope with my resistance to being defeated – by a printer!

Releasing the Need to Do It Alone

Resistance persisted the next morning with one major shift.  “One more try.”, I coaxed myself as I reached out to telephone support and finally asked for help.  Within 30 minutes, the printer and scanner were humming and happy to be introduced to my network.  Needless to say, I was happy too.

Why did I continue to struggle on my own? Read on to learn how my experience is a good example of how the behaviours of high-achievers can hold them back.

Are Your High Achievers Losing It?

What’s happening when your high-achievers begin to feel like they are losing their spark?  What you can do as a leader to help them break the cycle and revel in their brilliance again.

You may recognize those high achievers on your team who started out brilliant and are now fading into the background.  No, they aren’t losing it, but they are beginning to play it safe and maybe even telling themselves that average performance is above the norm — so why risk more?

The Crippling Lows

Put yourself in their shoes for a moment. Sometimes BIG shoes to fill that can also be crippling.

Put Yourself In Their Shoes


When you’re used to being recognized for high achievement and now you are feeling overwhelmed by the barrage of rapid and constant change, it’s only natural to shrink away from assignments that test you and require you to learn new skills. You lament for the time when you were eager for challenge.  Alas, you feel like the spark is gone.  It’s a crippling low.

There’s an Image to Protect

When your high-achievers have a successful self-image to protect and healthy self-regard to maintain, you may find them avoiding risk. You may be surprised to learn that they are in good company. It’s not uncommon for high-achievers to hunker down and lock themselves into routines at the expense of professional growth.

Break the Cycle and Get Back on Track

Trust me, it is possible to break the cycle that has your high-achievers questioning their talent and skills.  You can help them get back on track for professional (and personal) success. In fact, it’s not only possible — it’s essential if you want them to flourish, be engaged employees, and continue to contribute to the bottom line of your business.

Identifying the Traps

First, work with them to become more aware of the behaviours that once contributed to their success and may now be traps that hold them back. Which traps escalate their anxieties and cause them to engage in unproductive behaviours?

Stepping Out in the Spotlight AgainSpotlight

Next, work with them to adopt new practices that give them the courage to step out of their comfort zone – again.  This isn’t easy and it won’t happen overnight but remind them that they have done it before, they have been Star Performers, and you are there to support them.


What Got Them Here, Won’t Get Them There

Help them to understand the hard truth – the talent and skills that made them Star Performers in the past must be assessed for relevance in the current environment. Help them understand that their best thinking may not be enough. As intelligent as they may be (IQ), they simply cannot know what they don’t know in an ever-changing environment.  An introduction to emotional intelligence (EQ) will add to their perspective.

Releasing the Need to Do It Alone – How to Help

Encourage them to ask for help from a trusted peer, mentor or coach. Provide the appropriate resources to support them. If they are smart and ambitious, they are worth the investment. They will make you look good!

In 2008, I blogged about work/life balance in response to the topic being wildly covered in the press with tips and strategies claiming to help us achieve balance.  The topic has evolved with many of my coaching colleagues addressing the myth.  Here is a reposting of my 2008 blog explaining my take on this myth; offering an alternative view of “integration”; and explaining the distinction between balance and integration.


How often do you hear about people trying desperately to achieve balance in their lives?

The topic of work/life balance is covered in the press almost daily: radio; television; newspapers; magazines; and last but not least, e-newsletters and blogs. Because of the timing and overwhelming focus on this topic, most of us have bought into the notion that a “balanced life” is actually attainable.

Experience and observation has taught me that a “balanced life” simply is not attainable. Just think about this for a moment. Balance in any context is delicate. Anything that is balanced (think of a scale) can become unbalanced with the slightest pressure from any direction at anytime. An enormous amount of energy is exerted and depleted trying to keep something in balance – including your life. Can you see how incessant focus on achieving a balanced life affects the quality of your life? The effort is actually counter-productive. I have come to appreciate how “integration” rather than “balance” can be the key to maintaining quality of life and actually thriving. Understanding this distinction has a profound effect on sustaining your quality of life and basically, staying sane. Here is my interpretation of the distinction between integration and balance.

“Integration” implies acceptance, assimilation, and sense of continuous flowing energy. As something is added, it is embraced but it does not take over. When something is deleted, the gap is filled in just the right proportion without losing sight or appreciation for what was removed or lost. Wholeness is maintained. Our sense of being whole gives us strength to flow through the transition. We attract the best. We go with the flow.

“Balance” on the other hand implies struggle to achieve and maintain. Any addition or deletion from the equation causes upset or feeling of being “off balance”. Again, think about the scales. When something is added or deleted, there is a compensating reaction. Under or overcompensation fuels the imbalance. We feel fragmented along with a gamut of other feelings and fears that tear at our sense of being whole and compromise our strength. We focus on the hurdles, we trip, and we lose the flow.

Here is my call to action. Stop the Balancing Act:

  1. Examine your distinction between integration and balance.
  2. List what is most important to you at this very moment. Be as detailed as you feel is meaningful for you to benefit from this exercise.
  3. Use my distinction and/or your own regarding “balance” to determine how well (or not so well) you are currently “balancing” or “juggling” what is most important to you. How do you feel when “A” gets more attention than “B”? Or, when you add “C” which forces you to eliminate “B”? What is this “balancing act” costing you?
  4. Now explore the shift to “integration”. Can this shift allow you to give the appropriate amount of attention to “A” and “B”? Can you accept and assimilate “C” without total exclusion of “B”? If the unexpected comes along, will you be able to accept it with ease and maintain the flow?

I would love to read about your experience in stopping the balancing act. Please post your feedback.



Customers for Life – Making the Investment

Customers are the people who put their hands in their pockets to pay the dealership and in turn pay YOU! Customers are our source of revenue and therefore, it pays to think of them an investment. Investing with the intention of return – a good return – requires planning, measuring, and nurturing growth over the long term. Adopting the ‘customers for life’ and ‘investment’ mindset can cause you to make better decisions in the moment and to care for your investments (customers) as you would your own money.

 Focus on the lifetime value of the customer to you. Adopt an investment mentality.

Create Customers for Life!

4 ways to treat your customers as investments 

  1. Focus on the lifetime value of the customer to you. If you treat customers on the basis of their last purchase or their service history value, you will inevitably make poor decisions about how much time, effort, and money you spend to attract and acquire customers, and how much you invest in the on-going relationships to keep them. No doubt, the initial cost of attracting and acquiring customers is important. However, we also need to consider the long-term potential of each and every customer. That is, what we can expect from them on an ongoing basis, not just their first purchase.
  2. Create your plan for customer retention. On the dealership level, great effort and expense goes into generating traffic to the dealership in order to generate new business. Statistics support the wisdom of complementing new business generation with strategies for keeping the customers that we have. Loyal customers are a wise investment for several reasons that contribute to business growth. They return for regular service, purchase more vehicles, spend more, and are typically more fun. They are a critical part of our outreach to new customers through their word-of-mouth efforts. Loyal customers promote the dealership and promote you personally. They are basically free advertising and an effective part of our sales team. Hence, it makes sense that each department and each employee takes the opportunity to develop a customer retention plan.
  3. Track your investment in customer retention over time. Investments mature over time. Just like an investment in your personal life, you will only see the full value of your investment in customer retention over a long term. Not only will you see gains in loyalty and revenues from loyal customers, but if you’re getting it right, you’ll see the results of them telling others about you and becoming advocates of the dealership and of you. Maybe they’ll write a testimonial or post a positive review on the Internet.
  4. Pay attention to the Customer Promoter Score ( aka CSI) to monitor the success of your customer retention plan. You wouldn’t make a major investment in the stock market and then not check on its performance for a year. The Customer Promoter Score monitors customer loyalty and refer- ability. A single poor experience can be enough to damage a relationship and the only way you’ll know how your customers feel and how well your customer retention plan is working is to monitor and respond effectively to customer feedback. Remember that 90% of customers don’t complain – they simply walk away.

Adopt an investment mentality. Create Customers for Life!


Earning Customer Love

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Earning Customer Love by Providing Happy Moments and Extraordinary Experiences

What’s the difference between Promoter and Passive Customer?


Customer love is more than the warm and fuzzies.

1. Customer love is earned – Love isn’t bought and paid for. You can’t go out and buy a customer-love campaign — this is something you earn. It’s about happy moments and extraordinary experiences. It’s about putting your customers first and blowing their minds.

2. New love makes us talk – Nobody talks more than a teenager in love, a child with a new bike, OR a person with a new car. This moment of new love is a powerful EXPERIENCE. The moment of TRUTH. This is the moment when a little word of mouth marketing can scale it, extend it, expand it, and get everyone talking about you.

3. Love breaks the relationship between marketing and money – If you want people to talk about you, you have two choices: You can pay them (media and advertising), or you can inspire them. When you buy ads, you pay every time, forever. But when you make a fan fall in love, the relationship is sustainable, renewable, and it grows with use instead of getting used up.


Based on Word of Mouth.org article written by Andy Sernovitz.  www.wordofmouth.org