Why Peers Propel Us
“The trouble with the rat race is that even if you win, you’re still a rat.”
Every day is a contest. We compete for increasing market share, advancing our position, receiving the recognition we deserve, the customers we need and the respect we long for. But how do we measure our success? Is there a finish line or benchmark? Do all stakeholders agree on the metrics?
When Vineet Nayar took the helm of HCLT his greatest challenge was not their failures but their successes. How do you convince 30,000 employees they could be better if they are already growing at 30%?
The solution could not come from those who had run the race before. The field of competition is entirely different now for all of us. The solution must come from those that are in the race alongside us.
Given this same dilemma most CEOs would convene a meeting of senior management, share their relative growth to competition and create a top down push to greater performance. Mr. Nayar did not become one of the most highly regarded leaders in the world by doing what others do.
Vineet realized that “relative performance” insights needed to happen at all levels of the organization. Everybody not only needed to know how they were doing in comparison to their peers, and to have the opportunity to not just be better than the competition but to change the contest entirely. He changed the entire field of play by inviting everyone to join the contest. No one was excluded, no ideas were censored, no hierarchies were protected and no opportunity was ignored.
He realized that growth and innovation cannot be pushed from above but must be inspired from within. The drive to excel is not found in a vacuum or promoted from a position. We may be inspired by leaders, trained by coaches, but we are powered by our peers. Outsiders can energize us, but we are shaped by our insiders.
It is the people who experience our same challenges, live with our same frustrations, are confined by the same limitations that show us what is really possible. We can ignore the advice of experts, mock our leaders, but we cannot escape the truth of seeing people just like us, who with the same resources just do better. These are our real leaders.
They are not those empowered by their positions but in-powered by their accomplishments. They lead by example, thrive where they are appreciated and raise the level of performance for everyone they touch.
These are also the first people to leave in cultures where position is valued over performance, truth is defined by politics and hierarchy is a hiding place.
Over the past thirty years as a manager and particularly in the last fifteen as a professional consultant and keynote speaker I have built a career around the conviction that it just takes one person, one moment of insight to change a life forever.
The problem is that sometimes I was right. There are many people over my career for whom I have made a profound difference. There are also many more who have been entertained, educated and even inspired for weeks or months who eventually revert to old habits of thinking, old ways of seeing and old styles of living, working and (not nearly enough) playing.
There is nothing wrong with being inspired by a great motivational speaker. If you are looking for an energizing inoculation of inspiration to carry you through an overtaxed epidemic then one shot may be enough; but if you want to change a culture or transform a team the answers must come from within the system itself.
Sustainable transformation in complex systems is only possible when the members want to find the solution for themselves.
The days of top down directives and expert initiatives are gone forever. People can be forced to comply but they must be inspired to innovate, and the answer to both is contained in the words themselves.
Lasting change is never accomplished until the need for change is both understood and internalized.
The secret to sustainability is in our calendars, our concentration and our communities.
We always become whatever we think about most; we move in the direction of our currently dominant thoughts.
Change takes time
We live in an anti-calendar culture obsessed with fast. We thrive on fast food, immediate rewards and instant communications. Careers once considered the pursuit of a lifetime are now measured in months.
In spite of our instantaneous obsessions, durable transformation in complex systems takes time.
No matter how hard they try nine women can still not make a baby in one month. Our organizational bodies are no less complex than our physical bodies.
All our habits are interdependent and realigning values often requires that we experience enough discomfort to consider new ways of thinking.
To avoid the 70% failure rate typical in organizational change we must define a system for providing the right support exactly when and where it is required.
None of us became who we are overnight; letting go of learned limitations takes time as well.
Change takes attention
We live in a world fueled by fear. Fearful people buy things they don’t need, fawn over people they don’t care about and worry about things that will never happen. Each thought we entertain creates a picture in our minds and every picture has an attraction
If we think angry thoughts we attract angry outcomes, stress stories beget stressed lives.
These are not the inevitable results of frenetic lives but fractured attention. If we want peace, prosperity and abundance, those must be the things we attend to in our environment, and the most significant attractors in our environment are people.
Change takes community
This is the most significant and personally disconcerting realization as I begin my fourth decade in the training profession. I am not now, have never been or ever will be good enough to change anyone. Those that have benefited from my teaching have done so not because of the short time they have invested in me but because of the thousands of hours they have invested in helping themselves.
My role is as a catalyst. By introducing new ideas in unique and captivating ways I strive to start conversations. Beginning with self-talk these dialogues gradually become a buzz within the community and that is when the magic happens.
By creating opportunities for people to share, explore, experiment and fail we create a place for people to “bee” fearless. Fearless people accomplish more, stress less, are more creative, more resilient, and more engaged. We are not designed to “go it alone” fearless people require fearless communities.
In every day, every moment, every interaction we are either energized or de-energized by the experience.
Peer Powered Performance™ is a system of communication, education, collaboration and illustration that is designed to unleash the creative power of peer influence that energizes innovators, connects collaborators while at the same time disempowering the “debilitators”. Free from political positioning and win-lose withholding, communities have both the opportunity and responsibility to discover the truth.Download Free Peer Powered Performance™