Adjustments to Excellence

 Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. reminds us of equality, justice and racial reconciliation. But he also emphasized hard work and excellence. He said, “All labor that uplifts humanity has dignity and importance and should be undertaken with painstaking excellence.” When we combine this quote with a verse from the Bible we have a winning and potent message to live by; Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters,” Colossians 3:23 (NIV).

One way to deliver excellence is to make the necessary adjustments to keep your game at a higher level. Anyone who has coached people to improve performance can tell you a simple fact. Oftentimes, you do not have to drastically change someone’s behavior or technique. It may require a minor modification or a slight adjustment.

When an athlete is in a slump or a sales person hits a low mark in closing sales, they may press harder with worse results. Remember a time when you had a string of performances that were below your expectations. You may have lost your confidence, became upset with yourself and may have worried about your job. During these moments you worked harder than you ever worked in your life. What was required to get you back on track was usually an adjustment in technique or routine.

Nolan Ryan, fast ball throwing pitcher for a number of professional baseball teams. For most of his career he could bring the heat. He would throw the baseball consistently in the high 90 miles per hour and has eclipsed 100 miles per hour. Later in his career he became known as a finesse pitcher, resorting to off speed pitches and ball placement. This enabled him to reinvent himself and extend his career.

NFL receivers lose a step as they age. Those with extended careers, concentrate more on conditioning, improving strategy and running better pass routes. They made adjustments which were a natural part of the growth process.

Basketball players are known as wily veterans, which is another way of saying they rely on experience and strategies to play the game. They had to modify their skills or add new skills to compensate for a reduction of others.

An athletes’ giftedness got them there, but making the necessary adjustments or modifications will keep them there. At a certain stage it is wise to supplement your main skill with alternative ones. Rather than wait until skills diminish to add-on new ones, it is prudent to continuously make adjustments to stay ahead of the competition.

Too many people wait until;

  1. Things are not going as planned
  2. The same amount of effort does not give you the same result

Things are not going as planned  

Job performance is critical to our success at work. If our results are off course, drifting in the wrong direction, or not traveling fast enough we are concerned. When we notice a difference between expectations and current performance, we know a change is needed. When the status quo is no longer working or has become lackluster, dull and boring, it calls for something different.  Our success is based on the predictability of our performance. Traditions and common practices are great when they are functional. When things are not going according to plan, we have to adjust the plan or our execution of the plan.

Same amount of effort, but different result  

The same level of education or ideas may no longer be successful. There is a discernible reduction in your ability to maintain the same level of output. We decided to neuter and declaw our cat years ago. Our feline was tearing up the furniture and getting into a fair number of fights with other cats in the neighborhood. One day Fluffy was out in the yard and was attacked by another cat. Fluffy gave him the equivalent of several rapid jabs, extending his paws to scratch his opponent. He hit him with his best shot and the other cat kept on coming. I could see the confused look of on his face. 

We are like my cat Fluffy. When we exert effort we expect a certain result. Experience taught him to expect a certain outcome. When he did not get it he made an adjustment and ran for his life.  

All of us, as we get older notice that we can’t so things the way we use to do them. We may not run as fast, jump as high or recuperate as quickly as we use to. This is a part of the maturation process in any field. As we mature in the game of life, business, sports, and relationships; we gain wisdom to modify our approach.  This will enable us to continue to perform at a high level. Past processes may become outdated or irrelevant. New principles, theories and practices supplant the traditions of yesterday. Newer marketing practices such as social media must be embraced quickly. Others in your field have branched off into new markets with a more diverse customer base. We acquire an arsenal of techniques to serve as ammunition for the challenges ahead.

Our vocabulary is filled with words concerning adjustments. These are small and major changes to get us in line or on-line or on board with the program. Something has to be tweaked, refined or has its’ course corrected.  

We must understand the life cycle or performance cycle of markets and individual people. We must change and make adjustments or needed based on the stimuli, stressors, and changes. We must anticipate and adjust. This refinement mindset will help us in the short and long terms.

  1. What changes or adjustments do you need to make to prolong your effectiveness?
  2. Who can you use   as a model?
  3. Who will give you feedback?
  4. Who will hold you accountable

This may require more than your performance evaluation process on the job. Discuss with your mentor or coach to get a jump on matters before the problems develop.

  1. Ask someone to watch your performance focused on 1 or 2 areas only
  2. Videotape yourself and review the footage alone or with a trusted advisor

Adjustments should be a mandatory aspect of our performance. We can reflect on memories of veterans who reinvented themselves and prolonged their careers by utilizing this concept. They continually added something to their arsenal and were able to change their thinking, mechanics and techniques. This increased the longevity of their livelihood. These adjustments were necessary for survival in a competitive atmosphere. The natural life cycle of your career will call for mandatory adjustments. This will keep you performing to meet the needs of an aggressive and demanding business environment.

Copyright © 2012 Orlando Ceaser

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