Wednesday 20th Feb 2019
A performance ability blip is an important concept for you to be aware of. You see, when you set goals, milestones or even have a vision of somewhere you want to get to, either personally or professionally, it usually requires learning or doing something new or at least different. If it doesn’t then I’d question whether you’re stretching yourself enough (but that’s a different blog post!). So an ability blip is the downturn in performance you’ll experience while you adopt this new skill, approach or way of thinking. Recognise and look out for it from now on, and be prepared to hold your nerve and work through it. The rewards are worth it on the other side of your performance ability blip.
You have your starting point, your original ability, this is where you’re currently at. To improve on this position you’ve consciously done something different to effect a change. This could be attend a course, watch a seminar, read a book, change a habit or simply implement good piece of advice you’ve received.
If you’re a golfer, you will know that if you change your grip to improve your performance, even if you’re already a decent golfer, your game will almost certainly go through a period of deterioration while you get used to the new way of holding your club. That’s precisely what happened to Tiger Woods at the height of his success. A recurring shoulder problem meant he had to learn how to swing his club differently and it cut short a brilliant winning streak while he got used to it. Once he did, of course, he was back – and better than ever.
So as you adopt and implement this change your performance will actually decrease, i.e. the performance ability blip takes effect. Whilst there is no set time for when you come up the other end into ability improvement, factors such as the extent of the change or improvement you’re trying to make, your confidence and motivation to succeed all have an impact.
Unfortunately, many teachers, trainers and coaches do not call out the ability blip, which creates one of the biggest frustrations when it comes to doing something new or differently – and why most people give up too early.
Let me share a story about a time when I experienced my own ability blip and the way I worked through it.
I am regularly hired by organisations to deliver key-note addresses and sessions on a variety of topics, including many contained in this book. While I am now totally comfortable on stage and even feel excitement at the prospect, this wasn’t always the case.
The first time I spoke publicly was at a business breakfast session for around 20 or 25 people. I stood up after being introduced, intending to wow everyone, but within two minutes I began to sweat, my voice began to wobble, and I completely forgot what I was going to say. It must have been excruciating for the audience. There was no way I could ask them to pay as I was so embarrassed by my poor performance.
But once I recovered from the experience, I realised I had a choice, just as you do when you hit your own performance ability blip. I could…
…never do it again, closing down a new avenue before I’d even started, or
… lock in my core, get disciplined about practice, find out what I was missing or lacking, and set myself goals for improvement to get me back in the arena quickly.
I took the second option.
I scoured bookshops and the Internet, finding everything I could about public speaking, researching how the best of the best do it. I practised for hours in front of the mirror so I could be sure my body language echoed my words. I was deter- mined to become comfortable, natural and engaging. And as the years have passed, this is exactly what has happened.
When you experience performance ability blips and your current core level of competence, expertise or excellence drops, hold your nerve and stay the course.
Be persistent in the application of the new way of thinking, behaving or new skill. Allow momentum to carry you through, catapulting you to new levels of competence, expertise or excellence. And once you reach the other side of your ability blip, you will achieve levels of performance you never imagined possible.
Here you go..