Striving for World Class

I admit to being that student who would quietly approach the teacher after class to double check a mark if I thought I’d been short changed. It drove me crazy when their answer went something like, “Well you already scored well above the class average of 72, so I am not sure why it matters.”

Admittedly, a 72 might be a very strong mark in a subject someone is struggling to master — no judgement intended here. It all depends on what you benchmark against. But in an area where you’ve already achieved some mastery, that same 72 lands differently. Do you want to settle, or become world class? I suspect that high performance athletes don’t hear their coaches saying, “Your race was just a few tenths of a second off the world record — close enough. Don’t worry about it.”

I’m learning that 7/10 really bugs me. (My friend Col Fink has been known to say that on a scale of 1-10, 7 should just be removed!) One of my resolutions for my practice is to only accept assignments that feel like an 8/10 or higher going forward.

But here’s the bigger challenge: do you know what an 8+ opportunity or performance would be for you? Most of us aren’t running races where success is measured in 0.1-second increments. We need to decide for ourselves what a world class (or deeply satisfying or…) performance would entail before we can train to make it happen.

On my recent trip to Fiji and Australia, I travelled with people who are unapologetically creating opportunities that are not just 8/10 but are more like 27/10! Their dreams each look different — television deals, extended European travel, internationally-recognized clients, tackling incredible physical challenges to raise awareness for an important cause — but what impressed me was their clarity on what constitutes an “amazing assignment” for them that preceded their ability to land it, alongside the ambition to do so.

What’s your 8+/10 work? I’d encourage you to envision it in detail. I hope you have people around you that encourage you to land it and show you that it’s both possible and desirable to up your game.

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