5 FALSE NARRATIVES THAT CAN HINDER PEAK PERFORMANCE
Of all the constructs we hold as human beings, the construct of time has to be one of the most complicated.
Time is ever-present in our lives, starting from the first thing many of us see in the morning — our alarm — all the way through the end of the day when we often make a mental note of what time the lights go out. Between these daily bookends, we fill our day with the people in our lives, attending to our job, and completing various tasks. We repeat this routine nearly every day, potentially breaking this pattern on the weekends, for vacation, and for exceptional moments in life. This pattern can make it challenging to examine our relationship to time. However, without analyzing how time plays a critical role in our society, each of our lives, and that of our teams, it’s impossible to use it to one’s advantage.
The illusion of time fascinates me because some use it as a resource while others are burdened by it like heavy baggage. Yet, illusions are just that, and time is no exception; shatter the illusion, and you can begin to see it and life through a new lens. To do so, it’s necessary to explore the false narratives that so many believe and perpetuate about time.
False Narrative #1: Busyness Equals Productivity. Staying overly busy and overly focused on a to-do list is a classic false narrative surrounding time. When tasks are equated to productivity, it creates a blind spot around efficiencies and effectiveness. It’s difficult to step back and gain perspective on if better uses of time exist and if another person is better suited to accomplish specific tasks as they keep piling on. As a leader, especially one of a start-up, it’s crucial to make these distinctions.
False Narrative #2: Rest is the Opposite of Efficiency. One mindset that I have observed with peak performers and high achievers is that time spent resting is inefficient because goals are not being accomplished, and plans are not being progressed. This couldn’t be further from the truth. When resting, although you might not be actively engaging in work, you allow your mind to refresh so that it can be optimal when it returns to an active state. Additionally, you allow your brain the chance to assimilate all of the information and potentially come to a creative solution or approach. With the sustained use of services like Zoom, our eyes, which are part of the brain, need rest as well. We can learn from athletes and how they actively rest to maintain their physical peak performance.
Rest can be accomplished in different ways. I’m a huge fan of meditation, naps, maintaining blank space in your calendar for reflective activities, and going grounding. When our minds and bodies are well-rested, we open ourselves to sharper, more innovative, creative thinking.
False Narrative #3: “It’s Too Late to Stop Now.” Have you ever started a project, realized you could have gone about it a better way but didn’t want to stop because you already invested so much time and wanted to save face.
If you were hiking up a mountain to catch the sunset and realized after an hour that you took a slower path, what would you do? Would you continue on that path because you had invested an hour even though you had a slim chance of catching the sunset? Or, would you head back, reorient yourself, and head up the correct path that would guarantee that you see the full sunset?
So many of us operate from the mentality of never quitting because we equate quitting as bad. However, when it comes to your time, quitting is perfectly acceptable if your actions are no longer moving you toward your goal. It is essential to make the best use of our time and not stick to paths and tasks just for the sake of it.
False Narrative #4: Putting Humanity Aside. When creating and executing plans, sometimes, we make estimates assuming best-case scenarios. While we might plan for external hiccups, we believe that we will show up as our best selves and that our teams will too.
This rose-colored vision does not account for distractions, changes in physical, emotional, and mental wellness states, and competing demands on your and your team’s time and available resources. Show yourself and your team compassion by planning for the humanity that exists within you and them.
False Narrative #5: Small Steps Are a Waste of Time. When goals are audacious, the tendency is to overlook the simple, small steps in achieving them. The lure of conquering the complex and accomplishing a lot veil the obvious; simple elements build complex, creative, and innovative solutions.
How can you make small steps work to your advantage?. For example, let’s say your goal is to write a book. Instead of sitting down to write a chapter in one sitting, first aim to write for fifteen minutes. Timeboxing in this way allows you to focus on and be present-minded to one thing. Do this small step daily and in a week, you will have a chapter.
Why are these false narratives so important to confront? When you start to see how shifting your view of time can open up capacity rather than hinder, you can see where to make changes. To make these changes, you must examine your mindsets, habits, and behaviors.
When time becomes a resource, you will begin to see opportunities to create more of it for yourself. This can be accomplished through better delegation of tasks, introducing more rest and rejuvenation in your life, and taking small steps toward your goals.