Performance and Rigidity

28 Feb

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAIn today’s fast-paced work environment, how can we keep up? With ever-changing deadlines, real-time decisions and the shifting dynamism of teams, how can we survive and thrive?

To address these challenges, many of us seek to stay in control – of ourselves, or our environments. But in striving to stay in control, many of us can misdirect our energies at any number of points along the way, leaving us with a false sense of control. One way we can misdirect our energies is to rely too much on a self-imposed or learned rigidity, when instead we need to remain flexible. Flexibility keeps us in control, while rigidity can trick us into thinking we have control, when we really don’t.

This rigidity often manifests itself when we adopt rules or schedules in an effort to achieve a desired outcome, but then allow those rules or schedules to become the central, overriding focus of our efforts. One is reminded of the old adage of not being able to see the forest for the trees.

Take for example, the CEO who is determined to be healthy and have energy to get through the long day at work. He gets up very early in the morning and meditates, then goes jogging for 20 minutes, then eats fruits and cereal for breakfast while he reads the paper, all before going to work. To feel in control of his day, the CEO must religiously follow this routine for a “healthy start.”  If any of the steps are left out or not executed precisely as planned, he gets upset and is unable to get through the day with the kind of energy or focus that he needs. Or, think of all the people you know who can’t function unless they have their morning coffee!

Another way rigidity shows up is when a person doesn’t have a cadre of skills to rely on. We all face tough daily situations, and many that arise are not of our making. But the more skills you have, the greater your chances are of not only weathering the storms, but reaching your goals and performing at your best. Think of the golfer who can only hit the ball straight – when faced with a hole that curves to right or left, he’s at a clear disadvantage.

In the work environment, this type of rigidity appears when a person only has a limited number of skills to influence someone, or only one way to open a presentation, or operates with a one-size-fits-all approach when relating to individuals. It’s the boss who wants to resolve every issue his way because he’s always been successful doing it that way. Think of it this way: if you were riding a bicycle up a steep mountainside, you would be glad the bike had more than one gear!

We will look at some of these skills in the following blog posts.

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One Response to “Performance and Rigidity”

  1. Nolan Beenel February 9, 2016 at 2:03 pm #

    Great Opinions! Thanks.

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