Global Leadership Speaker and Premier Work-Life Balance Speaker
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Performance Matters

First off, you’ve got to want “it”. “It” being the operative “it” in “Go for it” or “Just do it,” “Do what it takes” and “Give it all you’ve got.”

“It” is significant because it isn’t always definable, but it is ever-present in the mind-set of the people who actually combine talent + drive + brains + ability to come up with a level of success that eludes 99.9 percent of the rest of the world. They might sense they can do great things and they might know full well they have superior skills, but a lot of super achievers admit they did not lay out a plan that would get them as far as they went. Essentially, they went for “it” without knowing what “it” was.

So there is a lesson there.

It’s about making a decision about achieving a level of performance that will accomplish what others can’t or won’t dare try, then following through with such forceful, determined effort that you rightfully deserve the exceptional success you will ultimately and inevitably build.

You can’t win if you don’t perform. But, there is that critical caveat, which is that you must perform and build the proper relationships that will advertise and advance your performance. Networking and self-marketing are so key, but you have nothing to market if you don’t perform.

So performance matters.

The first step is to decide to go beyond average, above average, excellent and extraordinary. I have interviewed so many women who have achieved unthinkable things. They did it because they didn’t talk themselves down. I remember how my life changed when I interviewed Jody Williams, who won the Nobel Peace Prize for leading the International Campaign to Ban Landmines. Williams received the award because she got foreign ministers from 135 countries to sign off on the treaty banning landmines, and eighty-one of their countries to subsequently ratify it into international law.

She did it by herself, without even having a secretary. I asked her, “What separates an ordinary woman from an extraordinary woman?” She didn’t hesitate with her response. “The belief that she is ordinary.” I have seen that play out in the hundreds of interviews I have done for my books. It is the choice to go beyond—and the belief that you can—that lets you do what others can’t or won’t.

So the first step in moving on this fast track is deciding to get on it.

The second step is realizing you belong there.

The third step is making your engine perform harder, faster and stronger than you ever imagined any engine could perform. It is so easy to slow yourself down by comparing yourself to everybody else. If everybody performs at one level, and you perform above that level, aren’t you doing extraordinary work? Well, maybe.

To be honest, that is the zone where I operated for most of my career as a journalist. I delivered more front-page investigative stories than anybody else at the paper, my work was excellent, and I was treated like a star. But the truth is, I could have done much, much more. I just didn’t feel like it. I had other priorities and distractions. That is perfectly okay, too. I set my priorities and honored them.

But when you hear that I was nominated for the Pulitzer Prize four times, you should also note that it also means that I did not win the Pulitzer Prize four times. Granted, some of that comes down to newspaper politics, but let’s get real. If I had pushed as hard on my work, I’d have won it. I had the ability. I didn’t have the drive. I will never minimize what I accomplished as a journalist because I know it was extraordinary. But I always will know that I gave it 96 percent of my energy. That last 4 percent is what makes the difference.

And that is the 4 percent you need to commit to give if you wish to attain and sustain yourself at the highest levels of business. If you want to go where these women have gone, you have to commit to an exhausting level of performance that pushes you every day. The only thing stopping you from getting there is your own mind-set.

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