Sustainable Excellence Through Process, Discipline & Focus (Part 1)

Don’t rely on the latest tip of the day or fad of the month to achieve your personal or collective best. There will always be another leadership book, training program, diet, etc. proclaiming to take you to the Promised Land. Truth be told, many techniques are helpful for temporarily improving some aspect of your individual or team performance. In order to achieve sustainable excellence you need a system through which you are continuously performing, evaluating and improving. During this three-part post we’ll describe this system:

  1. Establish a process
  2. Have the discipline to follow your process
  3. Avoid distractions

Your process is your goal plan. While much has been written about goals, very few performers truly understand the basic principles of goal setting. You must initially define your long term vision. Be bold but realistic. Be very specific about what you are trying to accomplish, with a definitive timeline. From there, work backwards and establish long term (greater than one year), intermediate (six months to a year) and short term (less than six months) goals that enable you to achieve your vision. Many performers make the mistake of stopping here. The final step is establishing daily and weekly goals that allow you to achieve your long term vision. This ensures you don’t let days and weeks slip by without doing what you need to do on a daily basis to achieve your long term vision. We’ll talk more about this piece of the puzzle (discipline) during the next post.

Your goals should be heavily weighted toward objective versus subjective targets. Goals such as “have fun,” “do your best” or “relax” are subjective. At the end of the day, you or another judge might be at odds about whether you achieved a subjective goal during a specific performance. Subjective goals can be helpful, as long as they are supplemented by objective goals, such as “no missed assignments,” “no penalties” or “not being late for any meeting this week.” These goals cannot be debated when evaluating your performance.

Once you have a goal plan in place you can then hold yourself (and your team/organization) accountable. In the next post, we’ll add the second component of discipline in achieving sustainable excellence.

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