Throughout my experience in terms of performance coaching with several executives and top performers from others areas, I’ve condensed some lessons and key principles in a framework that I call Kingmaker Performance.
This framework splits high-performance activity into three core areas:
Expectation is all about how you see the world. More specifically, what you expect from the world when performing. Do you expect things to go well? Do you expect to fail?
Usually, what you expect is what you get. As the adage says, “hope for the best but be prepared for the worst” becomes “expect the best but prepare for the worst”. Top performers expect, in a paradoxical way, that they will win because they deserve to win, but they also expect failure to come into the mix at any point and hitting them in the face.
Having a sense of ownership of your task and committing to make it happen no matter what helps consolidate your expectation that you will and make you antifragile.
This step seems deceptively simple, but it’s equally powerful. Just expect things will go well, that they have to go well, and they will. Expect at the same time for things to go bad and you having to fix it, and they will as well. Usually both.
This dimension includes:
- Raising your standards (defining what the required behaviors are and demanding those from yourself);
- Paradox expectations (expect the best will happen and that you deserve to win, but also expect the worst will happen and you will have to recover from it);
- Mission ownership (see what you have to achieve as a mission that deserves your complete and undivided attention and effort);
- Designing your reality (designing the world you want to live in, the reality you want to live in, and you only live in that reality);
Acceptance is one of the top keys in performance. Anything, from fear to procrastination to bad results is usually the result of some kind of resistance. Resistance is the enemy you must fight at all costs.
Accepting everything is the key. Deciding that, no matter what happens, you will accept it and move forward is extremely important. One of the most useful versions of this is athletes’ “game face” – the expression of accepting everything horrible that will happen, from ridicule to failing to letting the other side win – and accepting it with zero resistance. This can include starting with the worst-case scenario (the disaster scenario rarely happens, but imagining it takes you out of uncertainty by making a prediction concrete and takes you out of fear or uncertainty).
This includes not only throwing away fear and negative emotions to remain present, but it also involves throwing away some positive emotions – the false ones that will make you entitled or rest on your laurels. Throwing away your idealized version of yourself to remain present and accept you will have to keep proving yourself is equally important for successful.
Acceptance can also involve catharsis or closure rituals for acceptance. With top performers, it’s not usual for me to do a variation of an exercise where they have to list all of their fears on a piece of paper and then burn it, or to take 5 minutes to list out all their excuses, and after that abandoning them for good. I call this the “absorb and release” exercise – you absorb all the possible negativity, excuses fear, and then release it.
This dimension includes:
- Getting your “game face” on (deciding you will accept everything, no matter how bad it is, in order to succeed);
- Accepting everything that happens without remorse (being present and non-judgmental in your actions, focusing only on what you can do and ignoring the past, good or bad);
- Accepting the brutal facts every day (not letting yourself rest on past victories or rest on your laurels – having a mentality of proving yourself every day);
- Using an “absorb and release” pattern (gathering all excuses, negative thoughts, or any other roadblocks in your way, and then releasing them in some form of ritual to let go for good);
- Turning Negative (starting from the negative), including:
- Common issues (anticipating the common issues that are going to happen and your reaction to each one of them);
- Assuming Zero Impact (anticipating your actions will not have an effect and what you will do next);
- Meteorfall (assuming the worst case scenario and preparing for it disarms it);
- The Proving-Expecting Strain (once you realize you must prove yourself but also expect to succeed, you will find yourself in the sweet spot where you must strain yourself for maximum impact);
The third and final component of Kingmaker Performance is transcendance. The best way to perform at your best is to remove your limiter and allow a new identity to take over, the identity you want. We are all restricted by rules, conventions, opinions. Breaking free of these is crucial.
Most top performers have some kind of “activation ritual” that allows them to discard the useless parts of their identity and break free from constraints, moving with the flexibility they want. For example, having that “lucky shirt” that, when you put on, you become a completely different person.
David Goggins talks about “removing your governor” – drawing from that interior core that you never touch. When you face a challenge that is bigger than ever before, you have to truly draw from every single part of yourself, not holding back. This activates a deeper level of performance and identity within yourself.
Another technique is to find a goal so compelling that you cannot do anything but throw 100% of your efforts into it. Millionaire sales trainer Grant Cardone coined the 10X Rule – whatever you wish, wish for something 10X bigger. This makes you create goals so wild, so compelling, that you cannot fight giving everything into them. In his words, “you go big, you go monster, you go exponential”.
This dimension includes:
- Having an “activation ritual” (a special situation, a special object, a special thing that gives us permission to act how we want and leave constraints behind);
- Removing your governor (having the capacity to throw yourself completely with all the needed effort and not holding anything back);
- Having an unsurpassed commitment (using a technique like the 10X rule to find a goal so compelling that you cannot stop yourself from investing everything into it);
The Kingmaker Performance framework splits high performance into three main areas: expectation, acceptance and transcendance. While expectation is about raising your standards in terms of what you want, acceptance is eliminating resistance from the hard path ahead, and transcendance is about forcing yourself to step up to those higher standards.
It’s a perfect complement to Kingmaker Influence and Kingmaker Perseverance – once you are a high performer, all that’s left is to influence others to help you with your mission and to stave off the hits you will take.