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Shine: 5 Steps to Peak Performance Now

Updated: Dec 13, 2022

Am I just getting old?

I've never been much for New Year's resolutions - for a number of reasons - but mainly because for me, anything worth doing is worth starting on right now.

Perhaps that's why a 2020 Finder survey found that the older the generation, the less likely we are to make New Year's resolutions. Could it be that as we age, life simply beats us into submission to the point that we've lost our will to improve and be our best selves? Or as we get older, do we realize that resolutions that are simply tied to an arbitrary new year, and not rooted in a larger, more comprehensive, plan for our lives, may be less successful?

But, hey, I do understand why so many people make them; setting goals that are bound by deadlines is an extremely important step in SMART goal-keeping. The same Finder survey found that around 189 million American adults (74%) intended to make New Year's resolutions in 2021, and 55% of American adults were confident about keeping them. Many of the top U.S. categories for 2021 resolutions included health, self-improvement, money, family, love, and career. But despite high positivity, resolutions just don't seem to work - according to this habits blog research, by the end of the year, only about 10% of resolution-makers will feel like they were successful.

The Now Year's Resolution - Shine in 2022

That's why, as we draw nearer to 2022, a new year with new possibilities of a new us, we're not making a New Year's resolution but a now year's resolution. Let's commit to achieving peak performance in 2022, by starting right now with 5 steps that apply Dr. Ned Hollowell's "Cycle of Excellence" in his acclaimed book Shine: Using brain science to get the best from your people. While this is a concept that extends far beyond what we "do" as a profession (in fact, we can broadly apply these tenets to many other aspects of our lives), let's focus on what many of us have been wrestling with over the past few years - our careers.

The Cycle of Excellence

Hallowell posits that those who love what they do, stay in a so-called Cycle of Excellence...but what is it? It's the interaction of what's inside of us and what's outside of us, culminating with the right person doing the right things that leads to peak performance - and it can be achieved by focusing on 5 key steps: Select, Connect, Play, Grapple and Grow, and the result, Shine.

Step 1 - Select

Selecting something as simple as what to eat for dinner is a chore for many of us - let alone selecting what we want to do as a profession, doing which we may spend the majority of our waking moments. Determining what we should do reminds me a bit of the Japanese concept of Ikigai, or the French raison d'etre - in other words, Step 1 is determining what we're good at, what we like doing, and what adds value to our lives and the things we love. It's this unique intersection of these three critical qualities, that helps us to find meaning and purpose in what we do. In other words, some of us may inadvertently have gotten into the wrong career and haven't been able to separate ourselves from it.

Maybe this is part of the reason for so much reflection over the last couple of years that's left so many employees leaving careers to find more meaning and purpose - their own raison d'etre.

Step 2 - Connect

An environment in which we feel safe and able to be our genuine selves, connecting with other authentic souls, has been all but missed in the modern workplace. The feeling of being overloaded and stressed, leading to isolation and exhaustion has been compounded by the recent migration away from the office. But when we've elected to do something we're good at, like doing, and that adds value, we feel connected to others and to a bigger purpose, whether connecting virtually or in person. Often times, this very authentic connection can even cultivate a creative relationship with others and our passions that Hallowell affectionately describes as "play."

Step 3 - Play

Play isn't juvenile or immature in this sense - and it's not childish. But it is child-like. Play involves creativity, imagination, and problem-solving. It transforms our work from dull or routine to innovative and captivating. When we can't find a reason to play - that is to be innovative - in our work, is when we're more susceptible to burn-out and lack of enthusiasm. And while there's inevitably some monotony in almost any work or profession, having fun in the creative process naturally leads us to more meaningful grapple and growth.

Step 4 - Grapple and Grow

When we've carefully and successfully selected work worth doing - that we like, are good at, and makes a difference; genuinely connect with others; and we find the creativity and innovation in our purpose, we find ourselves grappling. Grappling is nothing more than hard work, grinding, hustling. It's good, meaningful, purposeful, hard work and every successful person I know that loves what they do, does it. While grappling is not for the feint of heart, it is worth it; it produces progress and growth. You may not become the absolute best at what you do (and then again, you just may), but the sense of personal accomplishment and motivation we get from mastering our work and aspiration is unparalleled.

Here's a challenge to us all: build confidence by contributing something important to what you do. It can be large or small, but start somewhere and make progress toward mastering your craft...what happens as a result will be not just rewarding, but illuminating.

Step 5 - Shine

As you might expect, shining is not something you necessarily choose to do, but it is the result of the culmination of selecting, connecting, playing, and grappling and growing. Shining happens to us as we affirm that ou

r hard work and purpose-driven intention have value. It manifests itself through those with whom we connect, in our creative process, and by the way we enjoy the grind. And true to the natural characteristics of light, shine affects those around us, reflects in our work, and encourages others.

So, as we draw nearer to yet another full trip around the sun, let's take some time to think about how our work reflects the five steps in Hallowell's Cycle of Excellence and how, when taken together, these steps can innately foster the energy, innovation, passion, purpose, and commitment we can and should have for our talents, careers, and lives. And, ok, so maybe I am just getting old but I think it's never too late to shine.

"We can all get smarter and wiser and happier the longer we live" - Dr. Ned Hallowell

Happy Now Year!

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