If you’ve watched our video “The Key Performance Equation Part 1”, then you’ve seen this before:
Performance EQUALS Potential MINUS Interference. (Performance = Potential – Interference)
And you may remember that one of the ways to increase any performance is to increase your overall potential.
In this video, we’re going to define what we mean by potential and talk about the main areas to target if you want to increase your potential ( and ultimately increase your performance.)
Now, ‘potential’ is one of those vague, sometimes amorphous words that people throw around and it’s hard to pin down what they actually mean by it.
When we at Themelios talk about potential, we’re not talking about some deep inner state of latent perfection—see, that phrase didn’t even make sense as a definition.
We’re talking about the overall measurable capacity you have to perform at a specific task.
And if it’s a measurable capacity, well then, it has to be measurable.
Before you can decide what potential you would like to increase, you need to assess your current potential.
The main areas of potential you want to measure for any performance include the following:
- Expertise: this refers to the actual skills or set of skills that are necessary to succeed at that performance. They can be technical or “hard” skills, or what we call “soft skills” such as leadership, management, communication, negotiation, etc. Generally we acquire expertise through education (formal or informal), experience, training and practice, mentorship/coaching, feedback, etc.
- Personal Characteristics: these are the qualities, either natural or learned, that contribute to the success of your performance. The most important characteristics will likely differ from one kind of performance to another—some require persistence, some creativity or initiative or cooperation. Some qualities will already be part of our strengths, either because they come naturally to us or because we’ve spent time intentionally learning them. Some we will need to grow and nurture in order to increase our performance.
- Understanding: this is different from expertise because it’s not referring to any particular skill you have, and it’s not even really referring to information or knowledge. Timothy Gallwey explains understanding as “comprehension of all the components of a particular subject or system and the relationships among the components.” A good question to ask yourself here is: What one thing, if you understood it better, and knew how all the different parts fit together and influenced one another, would make success more likely for you?
- Strategic Thinking: technically, this can be seen as a “soft skill,” a characteristic, or a type of understanding—but here, it’s more helpful to have it as a separate category. Strategic thinking is the critical ability to step back from any performance and look at long-range objectives rather than just short-term tactics. It includes but is not limited to:
- Developing a clear focus or vision
- Defining objectives and building an action plan around them
- Having flexibility and anticipating change
- Creating benchmarks for progress review
- Using awareness and acute perception to recognize and capitalize on opportunities
- Real balance between creativity and logic
- Capacity to integrate differing points of view, synergistic
- Allocating resources
- Generating key insights
- Time: this involves several aspects, the most obvious being, how much time you have available to invest in any given performance. It also includes how you think about time, how you prioritize and organize time, how you work with time pressures and deadlines, and how you manage tasks.
If you have a serious performance goal, and let’s say you want to increase from a mid-level to a high-level performance, it’s really worth the time and energy to assess your potential. Only then can you create targeted action plans to increase it.
Stay tuned for our Case Study where we’ll show you an example of how to do this.
Gallwey, W. Timothy. The Inner Game of Work. Random House, New York. 2006.