The Surprising Truth About High Performance

Table of Contents

Thought Leader: My 2-week group coaching program about making a difference through your writing starts on 20th March. We cover how to expand your impact through social media, articles and even through writing a book. Early-bird: $150


I knew that sharing this idea would trigger people.

And it did. I posted it on LinkedIn last Sunday, and it blew up; tens of thousands of impressions, many shares, likes, comments, and some resistance.

Here is what I shared:

“After coaching hundreds of high-performers, I became aware of a surprising pattern.

I know this observation will trigger many people; I resisted it myself for a while.

So here it goes:

The leaders who excel at work also excel in other important areas of their life, including personal relationships and fitness!

This finding went against everything I was taught.

That becoming outstanding required obsessive focus.

That success needs sacrifices.

After much resistance, I came to realize that

…how you do anything is how you do everything.

Your results in every area stem from who you are and also feed back into your sense of identity.

I wanted to believe that I could neglect my fitness or have my bedroom messy and still be world-class at my work.

Well, everything is connected.

Our lives are like fractals.

Geometric objects that are similar to themselves in all scales.

If you zoom in on a fractal object, it will look like the original shape, just like the fractal broccoli in the photo.

If you change a piece, you change every other piece as well as the whole.

While this idea felt heavy in the beginning, now it feels liberating.

I can declutter my office, do a workout, go on a date with my husband or play with my kids, knowing that my business directly benefits.

Maybe your next business breakthrough will come if you focus more time and attention on another area of your life. What do you say?”

The illusion of the required perfection

While this idea resonated with thousands of people on LinkedIn, there were some objections.

A common objection was that perfection in all areas is impossible, which is true.

But high performance has nothing to do with perfection.

A bad outcome does not mean you are not good at what you do.

A doctor can be excellent and still lose a patient.

Michael Jordan missed over 9,000 shots and lost more than 300 games in his career.

You can still fight with your partner but have a healthy relationship.

When it comes to high performance, people imagine a flawless track record, perfection or having it all figured out.

This is not what excellence looks like.

Perfectionism is a defence we develop to protect ourselves from disappointment and stands in the way of real success.

Feeling like you have it all figured out is a delusion, an indication of a fixed mindset and the beginning of the decline for most people.

High performance looks like a string of failing and getting back up again.

A high performer is a person who knows how to hold the disappointment of things not going their way.

Because when you push the limits of what has been done before, you risk disappointment.

It is not perfection that characterizes high performers.

It is the ability to get up, dust themselves off and try again.

 

The illusion of separation of the different areas of our lives

The other objection was about the challenge of distributing our limited resources among the different areas of our lives.

The problem is that we think the different areas are like separate vessels, and we need to distribute our water amongst them. With water being time and effort.

What if the vessels are not separate; but they are communicating? If we pour water into one, the liquid level rises in all of them.

In any area, the level can rise as high as in the other areas and no more.

If you take care of your health, your work benefits. If you are fulfilled in your work, your relationships benefit.

Once we accept that the different parts of our life are communicating vessels, the idea of distributing our resources amongst them becomes irrelevant.

But there is one more illusion here that stands in the way.

The illusion of limited resources

We believe that the amount of water we have to pour into the communicating vessels is limited.

But what if we had more water than we could ever need?

Time is a finite resource. Hustle is a finite resource. They are like fossil fuels. Not replenishable and produce pollution if overused (aka burnout).

What if we used renewable resources to power our quality of being and doing in all areas?

What if what it took to be excellent was not hustle but love, wisdom, inspiration, creativity, and art?

It doesn’t take me more time and effort to write a social media post that touches thousands of people versus one that lands flat.

The more expensive hairdressers and chefs do not take more time to cut your hair or prepare the food than the cheaper ones.

They simply pour more art into their work.

Art, love, inspiration, and creativity are not limited resources. We have more than we will ever need, and they constantly renew themselves.

Those resources pour out of who we are like a fountain, watering the space all around it equally. When we are at our best, all areas of our life benefit just like the space around a fountain.

 

The illusion of the fixed self

If you come from a place of unconditional self-worth, your care pours out of you towards your body, your family, friends and clients alike.

You are not driven by ego or a desire to win at all costs. You play in all the different areas not because you have anything to prove but for the pleasure of it. 

You are a shining light, lighting up everything and everyone around you just by being you.

But, this is hard, people told me. If you have not been raised in an environment of unconditional love, it is hard to have an unshakable self worth that overflows to others.

You settle for mediocrity in your health, relationships or work because you do not believe anything better is possible for you.

You think you need willpower, habits, effort and hustle to change in one area, let alone all of them.

But, as one reader said, you can change something small in the underlying formula of the fractal and the whole shape changes.

You are only one thought away from a whole new experience of being alive.

We are not fixed, and our reality is not set in stone.

Conclusion

Melanie Ann Layer says that success does not depend on what you do but who you are when you do it.

That’s why we see people doing the same things with very different results.

Let’s play in any area of our lives we are focused on at this moment without worrying we are neglecting the rest.

We are raising the level in all of them.

Let’s be aware that we come from a place of overflow, not limitation.

And that we are always a thought away from a new reality.

 

Download my free guide with the 10 Powerful Mindset Shifts To Achieve Your Vision.

Discover:
What are the 10 telltale signs that you are living your vision?
What are the 3 things you might think you need for success but you really don’t.
The 10 mindset shifts all my clients who enjoy success in all areas of their lives have made.

Link here.

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Picture of Caterina Kostoula

Caterina Kostoula

Caterina Kostoula is an executive coach and founder of The Leaderpath.

Her mission is to coach pioneering leaders for impact and fulfilment.

She has worked as a Global Business Leader at Google where she was
also a 5-star rated internal coach. She has coached leaders and teams from Google, Amazon, Stripe and Workable, as well as a number of startups.

Caterina teaches the popular Life Vision Programme at INSEAD Business School.

Her work has been featured in Forbes, Fast Company and Thrive Global. Her best-selling book, “Hold Successful Meetings”, was published by Penguin in 2021. Her TEDx talk is called “Do your goals prevent your success?”

Education

– MSc in Executive Coaching from Ashridge Business School (EMCC-accredited)

– INSEAD MBA

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The Surprising Truth About High Performance

Thought Leader: My 2-week group coaching program about making a difference through your writing starts on 20th March. We cover how to expand your impact through social media, articles and even through writing a book. Early-bird: $150


I knew that sharing this idea would trigger people.

And it did. I posted it on LinkedIn last Sunday, and it blew up; tens of thousands of impressions, many shares, likes, comments, and some resistance.

Here is what I shared:

“After coaching hundreds of high-performers, I became aware of a surprising pattern.

I know this observation will trigger many people; I resisted it myself for a while.

So here it goes:

The leaders who excel at work also excel in other important areas of their life, including personal relationships and fitness!

This finding went against everything I was taught.

That becoming outstanding required obsessive focus.

That success needs sacrifices.

After much resistance, I came to realize that

…how you do anything is how you do everything.

Your results in every area stem from who you are and also feed back into your sense of identity.

I wanted to believe that I could neglect my fitness or have my bedroom messy and still be world-class at my work.

Well, everything is connected.

Our lives are like fractals.

Geometric objects that are similar to themselves in all scales.

If you zoom in on a fractal object, it will look like the original shape, just like the fractal broccoli in the photo.

If you change a piece, you change every other piece as well as the whole.

While this idea felt heavy in the beginning, now it feels liberating.

I can declutter my office, do a workout, go on a date with my husband or play with my kids, knowing that my business directly benefits.

Maybe your next business breakthrough will come if you focus more time and attention on another area of your life. What do you say?”

The illusion of the required perfection

While this idea resonated with thousands of people on LinkedIn, there were some objections.

A common objection was that perfection in all areas is impossible, which is true.

But high performance has nothing to do with perfection.

A bad outcome does not mean you are not good at what you do.

A doctor can be excellent and still lose a patient.

Michael Jordan missed over 9,000 shots and lost more than 300 games in his career.

You can still fight with your partner but have a healthy relationship.

When it comes to high performance, people imagine a flawless track record, perfection or having it all figured out.

This is not what excellence looks like.

Perfectionism is a defence we develop to protect ourselves from disappointment and stands in the way of real success.

Feeling like you have it all figured out is a delusion, an indication of a fixed mindset and the beginning of the decline for most people.

High performance looks like a string of failing and getting back up again.

A high performer is a person who knows how to hold the disappointment of things not going their way.

Because when you push the limits of what has been done before, you risk disappointment.

It is not perfection that characterizes high performers.

It is the ability to get up, dust themselves off and try again.

 

The illusion of separation of the different areas of our lives

The other objection was about the challenge of distributing our limited resources among the different areas of our lives.

The problem is that we think the different areas are like separate vessels, and we need to distribute our water amongst them. With water being time and effort.

What if the vessels are not separate; but they are communicating? If we pour water into one, the liquid level rises in all of them.

In any area, the level can rise as high as in the other areas and no more.

If you take care of your health, your work benefits. If you are fulfilled in your work, your relationships benefit.

Once we accept that the different parts of our life are communicating vessels, the idea of distributing our resources amongst them becomes irrelevant.

But there is one more illusion here that stands in the way.

The illusion of limited resources

We believe that the amount of water we have to pour into the communicating vessels is limited.

But what if we had more water than we could ever need?

Time is a finite resource. Hustle is a finite resource. They are like fossil fuels. Not replenishable and produce pollution if overused (aka burnout).

What if we used renewable resources to power our quality of being and doing in all areas?

What if what it took to be excellent was not hustle but love, wisdom, inspiration, creativity, and art?

It doesn’t take me more time and effort to write a social media post that touches thousands of people versus one that lands flat.

The more expensive hairdressers and chefs do not take more time to cut your hair or prepare the food than the cheaper ones.

They simply pour more art into their work.

Art, love, inspiration, and creativity are not limited resources. We have more than we will ever need, and they constantly renew themselves.

Those resources pour out of who we are like a fountain, watering the space all around it equally. When we are at our best, all areas of our life benefit just like the space around a fountain.

 

The illusion of the fixed self

If you come from a place of unconditional self-worth, your care pours out of you towards your body, your family, friends and clients alike.

You are not driven by ego or a desire to win at all costs. You play in all the different areas not because you have anything to prove but for the pleasure of it. 

You are a shining light, lighting up everything and everyone around you just by being you.

But, this is hard, people told me. If you have not been raised in an environment of unconditional love, it is hard to have an unshakable self worth that overflows to others.

You settle for mediocrity in your health, relationships or work because you do not believe anything better is possible for you.

You think you need willpower, habits, effort and hustle to change in one area, let alone all of them.

But, as one reader said, you can change something small in the underlying formula of the fractal and the whole shape changes.

You are only one thought away from a whole new experience of being alive.

We are not fixed, and our reality is not set in stone.

Conclusion

Melanie Ann Layer says that success does not depend on what you do but who you are when you do it.

That’s why we see people doing the same things with very different results.

Let’s play in any area of our lives we are focused on at this moment without worrying we are neglecting the rest.

We are raising the level in all of them.

Let’s be aware that we come from a place of overflow, not limitation.

And that we are always a thought away from a new reality.

 

Download my free guide with the 10 Powerful Mindset Shifts To Achieve Your Vision.

Discover:
What are the 10 telltale signs that you are living your vision?
What are the 3 things you might think you need for success but you really don’t.
The 10 mindset shifts all my clients who enjoy success in all areas of their lives have made.

Link here.