Excellence Keys: Prepare, Perform, Evaluate

In any performance oriented situation or profession, there are three keys to achieving sustainable excellence. You won’t knock it out of the park on every occasion. Guess what, you’re human! But I’ve found that following this three step process allows performers to achieve consistent excellence over time.


I’m surprised how many executives attend important meetings or make key presentations without adequate preparation. A general rule of thumb is you should rehearse important speeches or presentations at least three times. That means verbally, out loud! Speeches and presentations aren’t performed in your head, so they shouldn’t be rehearsed that way. Part of your preparation is creating 2-3 personal goals for what you want to accomplish (or how you want to be experienced) during the presentation. These goals are different from delivering the content of your message.

I’m also surprised at elite athletes who only do what the team or coach requires in structured practices or workouts. The greatest athletes do more than what is required in order to deliver sustainable excellence against the best competition in the world. It’s no coincidence that some of the greatest athletes in the history of their sports are also legendary for their work ethic.


If you have prepared adequately you’ve earned the right to be confident during the performance. If not, your confidence will be shaky and short lived. It will not survive the high pressure demands and setbacks inevitable at the highest level of performance. I advise athletes to put a few key words or phrases on their wristband or other parts of their equipment so they have a visual focus reminder during competition. Executives do the same thing with their notebooks, PDAs or speech notes. These reminders provide a sense of focus and grounding during a stressful performance.


After your performance, grade yourself on a 1-10 scale on your personal goals and note lessons learned. Create a performance journal to keep a running account of your progress and learning. Reviewing this journal in preparation for future performances will build your confidence and competence. It will also prevent you from making the same mistake twice.

The best systems for achieving sustainable excellence are simple, not the latest convoluted leadership or performance fads. If you follow these three steps you’ll deliver superior results!

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