“Everything has its limit, iron ore cannot be educated into gold.” Mark Twain
Everyone has their own limit. We can empower and educate someone, but it will only benefit them as much as their ability. Motivationally speaking, anyone can be whatever they want to be, but biologically, that’s not really true more especially if you want to be great at what you do or master it. You see, some of the things that were said many years ago based on what was thought to be true, in recent years though, science is revealing a lot around human biology which should help us review yesterday’s beliefs. Like the one that the world was flat which existed for many years and limited how people lived their lives, but later on, with the advancement of technology, got proven that it was wrong!
Knowing whether you are iron ore, gold, platinum and anything in between and even beyond is crucial for your effectiveness and optimum productivity, call it peak performance. In real estate, an old adage suggests: the three most important considerations in purchasing real estate are 1. Location, 2. Location, 3. Location. This simply means that you can buy a beautiful and expensive house, but if the location is not right, you won’t get much from your investment and in fact, you may even get less than what you put in.
To us human beings, this location is about your peak performance environment. Your success either at a personal level or career depends on finding an environment that matches your performance profile.
In 1908, two psychologists, Robert Yerkes and John Dillingham Dodson, came up with the curve that illustrates the relationship between Arousal and Performance. Peak performance comes at the top of the graph, the spot where the level of arousal (stress) is sufficient to provide optimal focus and attention. So, this means that without adequate arousal (stress), we are likely to feel bored or disengaged. On the other side, when the arousal (stress) is too high – those are the instances in which our focus deteriorates into a situation of stress and we feel overwhelmed which can even lead to panic attacks.
If you find yourself constantly over or under-aroused, then you need to either alter the environment or make a serious change to the kind of tasks you handle or the way you are working. Through experiments and tests, science has shown that different people actually need different levels of stress to make them perform at different levels. There’s no one recipe that fits everyone, we all have a genetic predisposition, meaning how many chemicals are produced in our brain. If you look at the brain, there’s lots of chemicals that are called neurotransmitters and neuro hormones and we don’t have the same amount of them in our brains. Some people have certain neurochemicals more active than the other ones which makes a big difference in how we individually react, deal and cope with different situations. The truth is, no education can alter this, it’s genetic.
Now that I have shared the above with you just to give you some background with regards to our genetic predisposition, this should now help you to understand that we all have different neurochemical signature. For the interest of this topic, I would like to take you through two personality types.
1. People who are constantly looking for new things, very curious, very energetic. These people always have interest in different things. They are forever exploring. You see them climbing mountains, going to the North Pole, bungy jumping, etc. These are people who have a thirst for life. These people thrive under pressure, they are actually motivated by pressure. They don’t have much patience. Routine work kills them.
2. These people are stable and loyal. They’re patient. They will read that email twice or even more before sending it out. They will read the fine print in a long contract. Very often, these people are always thought and seen to be boring, these are your cool-cats. These people have attention to detail and can be trusted. They love routine hence they thrive in it. They tend to crumble under pressure, they need enough time to perform better.
So, from these two examples above, you can see why so many people are so frustrated and depressed in life and especially in workplaces. Most leaders don’t know all this, they are just armed with leadership qualifications that just assumes that people are more or less the same which is not the case. Peak performance only happens when you operate in a suitable environment or location.
Are you finding yourself constantly bored or disengaged from what you do at work? or Do you find yourself forever stressed out, forever chasing deadlines or overwhelmed? In this case, your attention gets thrown out of the window and you cannot reach your peak performance state.
This is what my leadership talks and trainings are mainly about, to help especially leaders understand themselves and those they lead better. This understanding will help you save yourself as a leader from wasting time and energy in educating and training iron into gold because it will never happen. Instead, you will help iron become the best iron ore there is and also gold to become the best gold it can ever be because they are both important and must be seen and treated as such.
Veli Ndaba is a Neuro-Conscious Leadership Speaker and Trainer, Life & Business Coach, Motivational Speaker and Author of four books (You Are Born to Win, Your Dream is Calling You and SWITCH ON! And Set Your Soul On Fire!), Newspaper Columnist and Entrepreneur. To book him to speak at your next event or to help you and your team unleash your greatness, contact him on email@example.com, www.velindaba.com or +27 83 304 9773