THE SIX PILLARS
The Six Pillars are at the core of TPZ’s Approach
At the heart of TPZ’s Approach are the Six Pillars of Excellence. By honing these skills, an executive, team or company will be able to sustain higher performance and establish an advantage over their competition.
TPZ aims to instill an understanding and appreciation of the Six Pillars of Performance Excellence in all its clients. These pillars offer the framework for unlocking the full potential of any client. They allow the individual not only to reach their best but to sustain that level of performance without burning out. Lifting the performance of a workforce can be transformative in terms of overall company performance. Mental health issues in the workforce have been estimated to cost industries billions annually.
1. ELITE MINDSET:
Motivation, Focus, Awareness & a Growth MINDSET
The People ARE the Business
You can climb the ladder your whole life only to find it’s on the wrong wall! To avoid this happening to you, you will need:
- Focus – which simply means energy concentrated in the service of a particular goal.
- Awareness – a clear understanding of your place in the environments you encounter and where you want to get to
- A Growth Mindset: the success that you have in life is more to do with what you do when you don’t know things, having a perspective that is open to new possibilities and approaches is critical
- Motivation: Many people don’t even start something because they are waiting for motivation. In fact, what they don’t realise is that:
Motivation = (Expectancy x Value) x Action – Delay
Uncover limiting beliefs to unlock value
(Expectancy x Value) can be recast as Desire. Therefore, if your Desire for something is weak then your motivation to do it is also going to be low. Similarly, Motivation is a product of action, you need action in order to generate motivation.
Harness the power of emotions, rather than be controlled by them
In mastering this first pillar, you will have to pull together each of the elements of an Elite Mindset. You will learn that how you present yourself mentally will drive motivation, which in turn drives your enjoyment and thus your focus, health and efficiency. Conversely, if you cannot control your emotions this will in turn affect your perspective, motivation and can be a significant impediment to achieving goals. An elite mindset allows you to harness the power of emotions to be constructive and for your actions to be clear and precise. Having your actions change your feelings, not having those feelings dictate your actions will give you an advantage over those who pay little to no attention to them.
A common language of excellence
Furthermore, you will learn the importance of a common language of excellence, that will create clarity when communicating with ourselves and others. Being able to define an environment will provide you with greater awareness and better allow you to focus on particular goals. An aware mind is a trained mind and a trained mind is power. It will also crucially provide you with the tools to identify if you are going off course.
It will ensure you never climb another ladder to nowhere.
2. ROUTINES, HABITS & EXCELLENCE
Six Pillars are the foundation for any Elite Corporate Athlete
An elite corporate athlete is not looking for a chance one-off victory, they are looking for consistent success. Excellence is determined, not by singular acts, but as Aristotle said, it is acquired through practice and habit. Others have rephrased this concept as: “You are what you repeatedly do, Excellence is not a singular act but a habit.”
It shouldn’t be a surprise that successful professionals have turned to Stoic wisdom to improve their mental capacity, play their game of business as corporate athletes, and overcome adversities. Good corporate athletes understand that there are physical and mental components to everything that they, their team, and the company do. Without the mental game, physical or other talents can only take a team so far.
So, what is it that Stoicism is teaching this corporate athlete, and how does ancient philosophy apply to business?
“Some things are within our power; while other are not. Within our power are opinion, motivation, desire, aversion, and in a word, whatever is our own doing; not within our power are our body, our property, reputation, office and, in a word, whatever is not of our own doing” – Epictetus
Epictetus famously described the dichotomy of control as a masterful way of understanding what is within our power to change and what is not. Essentially, what is within our control is that which is of our own doing, such as opinions, motivation, desire, speech, action, reaction, state of mind, and body language. What isn’t within our control is that which is not of our own doing, such as our reputation, our social status, and the circumstances we were born into.
By reserving our attention for the things that we can control, we’ll be unphased by those we can’t. So, coming back, it’s not about outworking your competition, it’s about how good you are at not being distracted and following your process, not theirs. That’s a mindset-driven performance goal which is measured by how well you stick to your routines and habits of excellence.
The Stoics believed the formula to achieve mastery in any field was simple. First, tell yourself what you want to be, then act your part accordingly. Acting in accordance with your role, your ambition, and your company’s purpose is in line with routines. Routines are important because they are the foundation of consistency.
The enemy of high performance is not stress, but rather the lack of routine and habits of excellence
Consistency is a pillar for success. Establish the right routines and habits so that you become a machine of consistency and perform at your best more often. Being able to perform at your best when it matters the most is a modern-day superpower. The famous quote repeated throughout sports psychology is “it’s not the best team that wins, it’s the best team on the day.” You are only as good as your best day, so to ensure you can focus on more things, have a daily routine that best matches it. The famous coach, John Wooden encapsulated this when he said: “Perfection is what you are striving for, but perfection is an impossibility. However, striving for perfection is not an impossibility. Do the best you can under the conditions that exist. That is what counts”. Routines and habits are the hallmarks of where you need to start to strive for perfection in what you do. Mastering this pillar will allow you to appreciate the value of routines, they are not tools to lock professionals into robotic modes of repetition, on the contrary, the main purpose of having clear routines is to reduce uncertainty, which should give you and your team more time to use their creativity and free up some mental energy.
Indeed, the enemy of high performance is not stress, but rather the lack of routine and habits of excellence. Stress is actually a stimulus for growth and the attitude toward harnessing stress is a key skill for an elite corporate athlete. Routines are key for high performance because they provide the structures to allow for recovery and management of oneself. Chronic stress without recovery depletes energy reserves, leads to burnout and breakdown, and ultimately undermines performance.
Precise, consciously-developed routines become automatic over time and become the cornerstones of high performance whether in sports or business. Routines are what we do both consciously and unconsciously to conserve energy, allowing the focus and process of writing to take it from there. The demands on executives to sustain high-performance day in and day out, year in and year out, seem to dwarf the challenges faced by any athlete I have ever trained.
Corporate Athletes must learn to appreciate the importance of recovery and training
As Jim Loehr and Tony Schwartz highlighted in their famous HBR review on the Corporate Athlete – the average professional athlete spends most of his time practising and only a small percentage—several hours a day, at most—competing. The typical executive, by contrast, devotes almost no time to training and must perform on-demand ten to eighteen hours a day or more. Most athletes generally enjoy some months of off-season, while most executives are fortunate to get three or four weeks of vacation a year, and even then, they are still connected to phone calls, video calls, texts, and email. The career of the average professional athlete spans seven years; the average executive can expect to work for 30 to 40 years. Of course, even corporate athletes who train at all levels will have bad days and run into challenges they can’t overcome. Life is tough, and for many time-starved executives, it is only getting tougher. But that is precisely the point. While it isn’t always in our power to change our external conditions, the need to be ruthless with how we start, maintain and exit events in our careers will better manage our inner state.
At The Performance Zone, we consider you corporate athletes. We aim to provide you with the skills and tools to use the full range of your capacities to thrive in the most difficult circumstances and to emerge from stressful periods stronger, healthier, and eager for the next challenge. This is about long-term sustainable performance, not a short-term fix. Routines that underpin your success now will likely feature and play a part in your success for your entire career and life.
3. PROCESS OVER OUTCOME
SELF CONTROL & DISCIPLINE
Show me your process, I’ll show you your level of success
A goal is “I want to be a CEO”. A process is how you get to the C-suite; it includes the ups and downs of the journey and the mechanisms you will use to overcome hurdles – where do you go to when things don’t go well, or when things go well. How good your process is will determine whether you will more likely succeed or fail. The process is the foundation to fall back on and is how you can get back to ‘neutral’.
Show me your process and I’ll show you your level of success. Overlooking the process to see outcomes, would be like trying to climb a mountain by just thinking about the summit. The biggest pitfall of thinking too much about the outcome is that you lose motivation for the journey that must be taken to get there. No amount of planning will matter if you do not follow the plan. No work done in the past will matter if you stop following your process. Understand that nothing can be won, only lost, by not following your process.
Money flows from the impatient to the patient
In this pillar, we look at what your processes are and whether they actually serve your goals and ambitions. Do they match your habits and routines? Everything we do, from walking, writing, creating presentations, looking for opportunities, digging for gold, and creating a budget, is in fact, all forms of processes we undertake, whether we know it or not. Whether they are processes that serve us or no longer do, it does matter. We often blame factors of other skills, abilities, or even personalities, but that is irrelevant. In fact, it’s none of them. Whatever result you’re getting is the right outcome for the process you are following, which is comprised of the budget you have set, the level of communication that is taken, and anything that is involved from the start (maintenance) through the finish. Whatever system you may or may not think you have is working for the results you are getting. I learned a long time ago that it was never my personal knowledge or skills that were holding me back, it was the process I believed in. The identity I held onto was connected to a process that defaulted to producing average outcomes, therefore only ever reaching an average level. To review and adjust a process that no longer serves your ambition or goal requires discipline and self-control. To live by design, not by default. So, it’s only logical that elite results require elite processes. A process takes time and must be followed with patience, but the rewards will flow. As Warren Buffett notes “Money flows from the impatient to the patient”.
Not many people view themselves as personally responsible for the level of their distraction
Trusting the process suggests you have a process in the first place. In this pillar, we discuss the dynamics of what a process looks like mentally and physically. By committing to a process over an outcome, we redirect focus to what is within us and the inner locus of control (discipline, motivation, organization, etc) and this will drive the actions needed to achieve the desired outcome. Put simply, a crucial skill set for success is being able to execute the plan consistently, with or without the “feeling” of motivation. This execution requires self-control and discipline. How often do you see a self-controlled person struggling to communicate? How often do you see a disciplined person struggling to be productive and improve? It’s exceedingly rare to see someone suffering from too much self-control or discipline. Conversely, people often suffer because of a lack of self-control or discipline. As you increase the quality of your self-control and discipline, you decrease your risk and increase your product impact. That’s a pretty compelling combo! Not many people view themselves as personally responsible for the level or frequency of their distractions. The explanation/rationalizations for distraction are commonly assigned to external things: tasks, technology, and other people. Yet until one is able to accept 100% responsibility for the level of distraction and commit to a process, you will be hindering your improvement. “An investor without discipline is not an investor—he’s a gambler.”
4. Mental Imagery & meditation
What allows a champion to win on the court time and time again, has just as much utility in the boardroom
One of the most effective methods for developing confidence is to harness what I refer to as mental imagery. Teach yourself to see that everything occurs twice: once in your head and once in reality. Mental imagery is the process of playing a highlight tape of your best performances from the past or future in your mind’s eye. This process of visualizing yourself acting the way you want to win should be done on a regular basis.
In sports, it is not unusual for coaches to have athletes perform mental imagery for ten minutes each night before they go to bed, in addition to their pre-event preparation. What allows a champion to win on the court time and again, has just as much utility in the boardroom. While you cannot physically prepare for every minute of the day, you can mentally prepare for those times when you cannot. The fundamental benefit of mental imagery and meditation lies in the power of breathwork and its effect on you internally and externally.
Breathing as a means to manipulate the nervous system and improve our focus
Simple tasks often lead us to consider multiple issues at once. That may be due to internal dialogues or distractions from the external world. These distractions mean that we are splitting our attention in multiple directions, and this reduces our efficiency.
By contrast, consider a bike ride. A significant portion of excess autonomic arousal is consumed by the pedaling and breathing that induces a rhythmic state in the brain. We know that breathing can elicit different brain states based on a wealth of scientific data. This is very easily experienced; if you slow down your breathing and reduce it to two or three breaths per minute, you will notice that your brain and entire body will shift into a more relaxed state; if you commit to doing 15 or 30 breaths per minute, your brain and entire body will shift into a more aroused state. What TPZ and other research institutions are attempting to understand is what these brain states are; how these different levels of mental states can affect our performance and how we define them. Meditation and mental imagery are critical components of understanding what a state of focus is and how we achieve it by manipulating the nervous system through our breath and visual focus.
Meditation allows you to ensure your actions are deliberate rather than the results of your emotions
Possessing control over this ability significantly alters the game of your performance and general mental health. If we are tired, how do we achieve a state of focus if we are agitated? Underlying all brain states is the seesaw of autonomic arousal, in which we can either be relaxed or alert. Which is the optimal state for the majority of things? Apart from when asleep, we can maintain a high level of alertness. We can be fearful or extremely calm. The general adaptation syndrome (GAS) describes the process your body goes through when exposed to any type of stress, positive or negative. It is divided into three stages: arousal, resistance, and exhaustion. If the stress that triggered GAS is not resolved, it can result in physical and mental health problems. As a result, you will be less effective at communication, listening to instructions or details, or any of the other factors that contribute to being optimal and reaching your full potential.
If you’re really upset about something, it’s going to be difficult for you to focus, whether you’re at the computer, in a meeting, giving a presentation, or whatever. But if you draw on the bike ride example, then breath work, movement, and sounds are likely to all contribute to your ability to let your brain enter a state of calm. In that state of calm, your ability to deal with a stressor is much improved. You are constantly being snatched between such brain states. Your mind is never idling between two states of mind. Meditation and mental imagery are excellent ways to practice this ability to switch between them at will and for your actions to be deliberate rather than the result of your emotions.
5. TIME MANAGEMENT & ORGANISATION
Controlling energy rather than time is the key to achieving peak performance
Using energy in the most efficient way possible by being able to plan, prioritize, and structure it in such a way that it achieves your desired effect is what separates the average from the elite. This capacity to manage one’s time and organize oneself is referred to as time management and organization. Perhaps framing it as controlling energy rather than time is the key to achieving peak performance and personal growth. In many respects, this pillar should equally be called energy management.
In this pillar, we detail why the more planned and automated one’s day is, the more self-disciplined one can become. People often deplete their energy, focus, and willpower reserves over trivial matters such as what to eat for lunch, bouncing from task to task, or bouncing from meeting to meeting, distracted by the previous and allowing themselves to be emotionally driven by the next. Without the structure to automate simple decisions throughout the day, we are more susceptible to distress, burnout, and fatigue. We must direct our energy and focus on the most vital things.
Consistency is the key to success
The majority of individuals go about their daily lives suffering from ‘decision fatigue’ or ‘analysis paralysis’. They float from task to task, from opportunity to action, letting the world “happen” to them. This pillar looks to explore the relationship between opportunity and action. Time management and organization are forms of self-management; cultivating the clarity to be creative, being self-disciplined, and having iron willpower to say “YES!” to what counts and “NO!” to what doesn’t. Allow yourself plenty of time to complete the task. Half-days or full days, weeks at a time. This is accomplished by aligning what has to be accomplished or attained with what is most important.
People who don’t get anything done typically work much harder. First and foremost, they overestimate the time required for each assignment. They always expect everything to go smoothly. The unexpected constantly occurs—in fact, the unexpected is the only thing one can safely expect. And it’s nearly never a nice surprise. As a result, effective leaders allow for a reasonable amount of time beyond what is actually required. Executives who are effective do not race. They start slowly but steadily. Consistency is the key to success. To pace yourself, you must first determine how much time you have available. Lastly, successful executives retain focus and do not overload by multi-tasking beyond their capabilities.
Stress of Opportunity is a factor in many people’s deaths
The Stress of Opportunity is a factor in many people’s deaths these days. That is where technology and its evolution have had an impact. Nothing in technology, on the other hand, has made a meaningful difference in productivity since word processors and spreadsheets; they literally altered the world. The only substantial change since then has been in connectivity, volume, and input speed. That is who you are, and that is what your technology has made possible, so you now have a lot more information coming at you. You must now choose how valuable it is, how to interact with it, and what to do with it. It’s an odd paradox that you must use your mind to empty your mind; in order to be present, you have to scrutinize everything you’ve thought about and decided on and treat it as an external inventory.
The fundamental idea of the pillar is to learn about time management and organizing as a method for prioritizing what you desire most over what you want now. Simple steps like learning to identify possibilities and opportunities, then clarifying and prioritizing objective activities over subjective cognition, lead to the capacity to now organize according to function rather than sentiments, transforming you into someone who is prepared rather than reactive.
6. Leadership & Culture
Failure to execute is failure to lead
I would like to state that the 6 mental performance pillars taught in this course should be considered as complementary to each other. The final two skillsets taught are especially pertinent to what you or your company is trying to achieve.
Your team will never realize their full potential, and they will never perform at the level they are capable of if you cannot lead or create the leadership and culture that people crave. Even if you know how to create the ideal fourth quarterly plan or project plan, failure to execute is synonymous with failure to lead.
Trust is required to deliver results
In this pillar, you will discover two critical principles of leadership:
- Your people will not follow you if you are incapable of establishing trust or delivering results. If you provide both trust and results, you will notice a stronger work ethic and increased morale among employees. Enthusiasm is a more precious commodity to acquire than money. On the other hand, if you’re unable to deliver results, your followers will abandon you. If you’re unable to establish trust, people will leave you even quicker.
- Fellowship is as important to leadership as leadership is to culture.
Leadership comes in many forms
In addition, the pillar will cover:
- Why do successful leaders lead both vocally and by example–and how to do both better by understanding communication?
- Something that can be a language can be obtained—in other words, once you talk the talk, you can walk the walk.
- Why is your ability to instill a sense of “purpose” the foundation of good leadership?
- How to use the start, stop, and continue growth plan to design a personalized leadership development plan.
- Demonstrating ethical integrity and confidence in leading a principle-based life vs. a life based on preferences. Because the choices you choose ripple down the organisation, the outcomes that the business generates can be the unintended consequences of earlier decisions made.
- How to transition from a management-driven program to an employee-led program.
- Finally, in the pillar, we touch on an important tool of creating the personal MVP process as a tool to help you gain clarity for yourself and those around you.
Leaders don’t lead the way for themselves they pave the way for others
Building trust is an unintended consequence of your ability to establish a personal connection with your colleagues. This connection is solidified through time and shared adversity and purpose. A leader is someone who, in basic terms, supports and facilitates others’ growth and development. Leaders don’t lead by paving the way for themselves they pave the way for others. A leader is an educator, a dictator, and a negotiator. What type of leader you are is often determined by how well you can identify with a particular type and what situation needs which style to show up.
In this pillar, we highlight how making things clear for those you’re guiding creates opportunities and allows creativity to flow. Keeping it simple, stupid is guidance to be adhered to. If guidance is clear, you can then hold your team accountable so that they do what they claim they will do. Accountability creates a culture of excellence. Clarity and accountability are the cornerstones for developing abilities that are required to overcome hardship from a personal and company perspective.
Leaders drive success in any field
A comprehensive company plan or world-class budget cannot compensate for poor leadership. To put it another way, if you are unable to lead effectively as a leader, your employees will suffer, and your company will suffer.
There’s a lot at stake here, from the success of the individuals we’re collaborating with to the overall success of the project. However, there is also a great deal of opportunity. Because if we can successfully lead, we can leverage both our own success and the success of those we hire or work with. So, why is leadership responsible for developing the culture that will drive the organization? Because behaviours will get outcomes. Culture is essentially a system of beliefs that motivates behaviours that result in an outcome. The ability to construct the proper cultural skillset purposefully and continuously is referred to as the atmosphere required for you and your team to flourish at the highest levels.