I keep running into this theme enough that I had to write about it today. It is foundational to what we have been discussing over the past few months.
Many of the individuals I coach complain that what they are learning is fine but it is almost impossible to implement during intense periods. I couldn’t agree more. Think outside of your area of specialty to just about any other arena of accomplishment.
Does an athlete try a new jump shot during the NBA finals? Does a swimmer try a new flip-turn during the Olympic trials? Does a pianist try a new fingering during a concerto performance at Carnegie Hall? The answer is obvious. New learning will NEVER succeed during high stress. The brain’s survival functions are too strong an override. You are up against biology here, not psychology…and biology always wins.
As a brief interlude on the bi-weekly learning on elite performance, I want to introduce what I call “The 95 and 5”. These numbers refer to percentages of time.
The 95% is the non-crisis, slower moving times of your professional life when you can be intentional about what you are doing. This is the time to put into practice what you have been learning here in these blog posts or anywhere else. This is the time to take a half hour a day (yes, regardless of how busy you are you can find that) and practice. It might be role-playing just with yourself as you drive to prepare for a crucial conversation. It might be listening to a podcast. It might be reading a recommended book. You have to be intentional during those times. If you seek improvement and advancement, there is no other choice. You cannot expect to have this learning accessible to you during crisis times if you haven’t been diligent during the other 95% of the time. Being diligent in this context, means asking for feedback from those around you specifically about how you are doing implementing new behaviors.
5% is crisis time; everything-hitting-the-fan, with heightened emotions and serious problems. This is where the brain biology kicks in. The brain knows what it needs to do and it goes into overdrive mode. You have all been there. It can almost be an out-of-body experience as the deep learning takes over the function you are trying to do. This is not the time to even worry about implementation. Just let the deep learning do the work. Similar to Karate, if you’ve practiced the moves enough, when it comes time to fight Jean-Claude Van Damme, your body is doing what it needs to without your mind hauling it there.
After the crisis has passed, it is just as important to review the learning that has occurred. Teams look at game films before they hit the practice floor again. Musicians listen to recordings. When you are standing in the “95% piece of the pie,” put in place a data capture system that will allow you to reflect on how you performed. A physician colleague and I published an article in Physician Leadership Journal in January on this very topic. COACHING: A Useful Approach To Disruptive Behavior
This has been shown to be highly effective.
The take-away: remember the 95 and 5. Put it into practice. No excuses.