“Not Bad” Doesn’t Mean Good

Is your personal performance standard to consistently do good or great work, or is it to do just enough not to get fired?

So many of us have dropped our personal performance standard. As a coach, I routinely work with people who are okay with doing average. When asked how their weekend was, the answer is “not bad.” When asked how they are doing on their goals and objectives in the workplace, the answer is “not bad.”

“Not bad” doesn’t mean good.

So, what causes us to settle?

I see it this way. We are each born with amazing potential that remains hidden in us until we do two things:

  1. Identify it.
  2. Choose to use it.

To discuss potential, we talk about strengths, interests and values. Knowing and using these is how to bring your A-game – not your C-game.

When you know and use your strengths, you lead with your greatest abilities. You tap into what is strongest and best in you. Imagine your impact and potential when you know and choose to use your strengths.

Consider this:

  • Interests: When you know and include your interests in your day, you feel energized. You respond differently to things you like than the things you don’t like. You give it more effort, greater thought and therefore greater results. Imagine your impact when you know and choose to incorporate your interests in your day.
  • Values: When you know and include your values in your day, you have greater clarity in how to move through your day. I like to consider values as our guardrails; they define our edges so we feel balanced and confident, letting us focus on our strengths and interests throughout our days. Check in on your values to determine if excellence is one of your values. What would it take to develop this value and what would be the impact if it guided your approach to everything you do?

Now, with this perspective, think about your workplace relationships. Which ones are “not bad” and which ones are good or great? What do you do differently in those that are better than average and what is the impact on you, your performance and your degree of impact and happiness in the workplace? Who do you have to be to bring your A-game to your workplace relationships?

Now, think about your workplace culture. Where is it “not bad” and where is it actually good or great? What could you do to share your thoughts with management to improve the employee experience? If you are a manager, how can you engage your employees to share their perspectives and opinions and raise the quality of the workplace culture, thereby increasing engagement to drive productivity, performance and retention?

Finally, think about your work. Where is it “not bad” and where is it actually good or great? Are you in a role that needs what you do and like best? Does your work inspire you to play full out or do you do just enough not to get fired? What can you do to better align yourself to a role that amplifies your focus on excellence, or how can you change your internal talk to do and be your best, regardless of what is going on around you?

Take Action
You choose how to show up to work and life. Sometimes the workplace can make this easier for you. However, it is always your choice to accept “not bad” or good / great as an outcome. Stop and Notice where you play small and where you bring your best. Make one change in something you deliver as “not bad” and raise it to good or great. Notice how work and life improve when you raise your standard.

By Jay Forte

Consider reading Be on the Disengagement Hunt

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The Power of Passions

By Jay Forte, Coach, Author, Educator

One of my greatest passions is food. Shopping for the right ingredients, growing it directly, cooking it, serving it – it’s all in my passion area. I can’t sit through a movie, but I can binge watch cooking shows all day. I’m passionate about learning what other cultures eat, trying new foods, tasting new spices, reading cookbooks and testing cutlery. There’s a reason why the blog is named “Know Your Ingredients.”

Key to living a life you love is connecting to the things that activate your passions. Passions are your guideposts in life. They help you sort through all that is available for the things that get your attention. It’s your passion that fuels you to get out of bed early to train for a marathon, to write music, to work with special needs kids, to become a foster parent or to actively support an important personal cause, like World Food Day.

Passions encourage you to imagine, dream and invent. When you are passionate about something, you allow yourself to push the edges, to reach for more. Passions encourage people to start their own businesses, study abroad, challenge wrongs, develop new skills, invent new technology, go to college or even work on solving global problems. The list of possibilities that your passions can inspire is limitless.

Since passions are key to a great and happy life, how do you discover them? Consider these questions to become more aware and focused on developing your passions:

  • When I wish time would stand still, what am I doing?
  • When I have or make time, or have extra money, where do I spend it?
  • When I am my happiest, what am I doing?
  • When I feel energized and excited, what am I doing?

Remember, your passions are unique to you. Don’t try to figure out why you love cooking, stamp collecting, marathons, football, printmaking, car restoration or searching for antiques. Simply make time and space to connect to what activates your inner energy.

But be aware that there is a difference between an interest (low energy) and passion (high energy). Both are important in life, but it’s your passions that raise the bar. They are the frosting – the sweet part (see, everything comes back to food for me) – of a great life.

A final thought. You don’t need to explain or justify your passions to others. What activates your passions is personal to you. And you don’t need to take on others’ passions as yours if they do not carry the same energy for you.

Your passions are part of what makes you unique. It’s up to you to discover and develop them to bring great value to your version of life.


Are you struggling to define or develop your passions? Take our 3AboutMe Talent Assessment.

 Still stuck? Consider working with a professional coach.

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