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How To Increase Your Personal Performance

BookRapper.com rewrites and re-designs important business books so they can be read in 30 minutes. Here you’ll learn how to increase personal performance.

The Three Laws of Performance

This is a summary of Book Rapper’s version of Steve Zaffron and Dave Logan’s The Three Laws of Performance.

Despite our best intentions most of our efforts to improve our performance fail miserably. All we end up doing is a little better and we produce marginally better results. The problem with most efforts to improve performance is that we try to fix the problem. This would be really easy if the problem was the broken leg of a chair. In this case, it’s simple to identify the source of the problem and find an exact replacement.

In contrast, if we want a giant leap forward in our performance this rarely works. We need to transform our performance, not fix it. Problem solving doesn’t work because it’s like building a sand castle on the beach. Sooner or later the tide’s going to come in and wash it all away. Most change management efforts fail because they are washed away in the tide of further change and factors unforeseen at the time of planning.

  • Shifting Context. The reason problems persist is because they occur within the same context. Therefore we repeat them in different forms over and over. Our assumptions, hopes, fears, resignations, cynicisms and experience stay the same and we’re forced to repeat ourselves. Unless we change these factors and approach the issue from a fresh context, very little will change. As Albert Einstein suggested ‘No problem can be solved at the same level at which it was created’. Shifting the context allows the problem to be transformed. We can then live into a new future. Thus the metaphor of ‘Frog Power’: A frog is not a bigger or better tadpole. When a frog stops being a tadpole a whole different world is available. And with it’s new hind legs it truly is able to take a great leap forward!
  • The Reality Illusion. How many times have you shaken your head and asked: Why do people do what they do? The problem is that common sense is not common. And, that’s because the reality we think we share is just an illusion. We don’t have a common understanding of situations. Consider, when we do something, it always makes complete sense to us. To another person watching us, it may make no sense at all. For instance, suicide is a serious affair. To the living it makes no sense. To the person taking their own life they see it as a viable solution to ending their pain. The First Law of Performance says: Our Performance directly correlates to how situations occur to us. How situations ‘occur’ goes beyond perception and subjective experience. Your perspective is part of the way the situation occurs.
  • Your Default Future.  The most powerful influence on our performance is how we see the future. Our futures call us into action today. For instance, if you were going on holiday next week to an exotic location you might already be excited even though you’re stuck in the office slogging away. Likewise, on your last day of holiday, your body might still be on the beach in Hawaii but your mind has already left and started thinking about all the things to do when you get back home. Our Default Future is the future we’re having that’s coloured by our past. It feels like Groundhog Day because we’re repeating the same patterns of our past just played out in a new day. We repeat the past because we fail to notice what’s driving us. And we fail to notice because they’re not obvious like the broken leg of a chair. They live in the things that go ‘unsaid’. This includes our assumptions, expectations, disappointments, resentments, regrets, interpretations and concerns. And this highlights the second law of performance: how situations occur is inseparable from language.
  • ‘My Manager is a Jerk’. Consider, in a work situation your manager may tell you to do something in a new way. However, if you’re operating out of the context ‘My manager is a jerk’, then it’s likely you’ll disregard their suggestion. Multiply this across a workforce and the ‘unsaid’ can hijack the future of an entire organisation. Imagine if everyone thought ‘My manager is a jerk’. How do you think this would this impact the performance of the organisation? The key to freedom from this hijacking is to distinguish the Background Conversation. In particular, it’s to unlock the interpretations you’ve made in the past that are cluttering up your future. For instance, go back to the time you decided ‘My manager is a jerk’ and look at what really happened. It will follow this basic pattern: an actual situation occurred and you made it mean something. You may have seen your boss do something. It’s likely to be something you wouldn’t have done. And, in that moment you labelled him/her a ‘jerk’. Later, you forgot you made up this interpretation and now you’re acting as if it’s the truth. Whilst we may have the best of intentions, unless we expose the ‘unsaid’ we’ll continue to operate out of the world we created.
  • Your Invented Future. Once we’ve identified and completed the things from our past that have been clogging up our future view, we can start to create an Invented Future. It guides you in the present and calls you forward into the future. If, how a situation occurs lives in language, then it figures we need to change our language to invent a future. The Third Law of Performance suggests ‘Future-based language transforms how situations occur to people’. Your Default Future is a projection of what’s previously happened. And, it lives in your description of it. It will include expectations, hopes, fears, predictions, judgements, assessments and assertions. It may also include spin and attempts to motivate you. It’s value is in accurately describing what’s so – The here and now. For example, the bottle is round, blue and about this high. It loses its value when we try to create with it. For that we need to switch to Generative Language.
  • Generative Language. Judges create the future when they announce a criminal’s sentence. A marriage celebrant declares a united future of husband and wife. Martin Luther King’s ‘I have a dream’ speech presented a new vision for blacks and whites in America. Generative Language is not an attempt to fix the current situation. Instead, it transforms how the current situation occurs to us in the moment of speaking it. “I now pronounce you husband and…” Your first step is to make a declaration for your future to displace your Default Future. Then you need to make promises and commitments to bring your spoken future into reality.

Summary. Lots of business and self-help books allow you to shuffle the deck chairs and don’t get to the heart of your sinking life/organisation. The key to a breakthrough in your performance lies in seeing how your current situation is occurring to you. Change the context you are operating from to transform your performance.

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