WHAT IS PERFORMANCE?
Performance is a term frequently used in the workplace and in the world of sports and rehabilitation, but what does Performance really mean? What is Performance to me? More importantly what is Performance to you?
To some Performance may be intimidating, to others it may be inspiring, but to the vast majority Performance is misunderstood. According to Merriam-Webster, Performance is a noun with multiple definitions; here are a few: “the execution of an action”, “something accomplished”, “the manner of reacting to stimuli”, and “the fulfillment of a claim, promise, or request”(1).
Before we dive deeper into this let’s start by clarifying the difference between a noun and a verb. By definition a noun is “a word that refers to a person, place, thing, event, substance, or quality”(2). A verb is “a word or phrase that describes an action, condition, or experience”(3). Interestingly, all of the definitions of Performance listed above have one theme in common; they all require action.
Performance is not a person, place, or thing. Performance is an ACTION and an EXPERIENCE. Performance is a way of life. Performance applies to everything we do on a daily basis: LIVING.
“The execution of an action”
Every day we wake up, get out of bed, and do something (hopefully), whether it is go to work, play with your child/grandchild, mow the lawn, go to the gym, clean the house, or go for a walk we all execute actions every day of our life. It doesn’t matter if you are 2 years old or 100 years old, everyone demonstrates some sort of Performance on a daily basis. Exactly what your Performance is does not matter; what matters is who you share it with and that you enjoy it. Think about some of the best experiences and memories you have had throughout your life…. I can almost guarantee you 2 things: 1. You were doing something ie. “executing an action” – Performance, and 2. You shared the experience with another person, most likely someone very important in your life.
Personally, I am a big “list” guy and always have been, my family and friends can attest to that. Why do I write To-Do Lists all the time you might ask? There are 2 reasons. Reason number one is the obvious answer: so I don’t forget things I need to accomplish. Reason number two is less obvious, but still very simple: accomplishing something feels good, no matter how small that something may be. I will be the first person to admit that yes, at times I have accomplished something (that was not on my list) and added it to my list and then crossed it off solely for the satisfaction of “getting something accomplished”. It doesn’t matter if your accomplishment is finally completing that project at your house, getting a promotion at work, making the varsity roster this fall, losing 1 pound, winning a state championship, or being a better parent or spouse, it’s almost impossible to deny that accomplishing something feels good, Performance feels good.
“The manner of reacting to stimuli”
Today, in our everyday lives we are surrounded by more stimuli than ever before: cell phones, computers, television, traffic, adversity, interactions with people, and confrontation to name a few, how we react to them determines our Performance. How we react to stimuli on a daily basis determines a “good” day from a “bad” day. In business, how a company or group reacts to stimuli often determines success or failure. In the world of sports, how an athlete/team reacts to stimuli is often the difference between winning and losing. You might not have any control over what stimuli you encounter, but you always have total control of how you react to it. You have total control of YOUR Performance.
“The fulfillment of a claim, promise, or request”
Performance is staying true to your word. Performance is staying true to yourself and your beliefs. Performance is practicing what you preach. Performance is doing your job. Performance is finishing the job. Performance is helping someone else improve their life. Performance is not something you do one day and not the next. Performance is loyalty. Performance is commitment. Performance is a way of life. Your Performance is your life.
Performance is something that I have and always will strive to achieve and help others achieve on a daily basis. It doesn’t matter if you are a janitor, spouse, nurse, coach, athlete, brother, sister, construction worker, parent, doctor, or lawyer. We all wake up each day for different reasons, but we can all improve our Performance. We can all improve our ability to become better versions of ourselves.
Britt Wickett PT, DPT, CSCS