In the study two key differences emerged between the top and bottom performers. The first key difference is that 5th level performers all have much higher levels of self-awareness. Self-awareness is all about really knowing what your natural talents are – and are not. The natural talents I’m talking about btw are your mental talents for things like: complex problem-solving, creativity, empathy, big-picture thinking, competitiveness, attention to detail, organizational thinking, persistence and a host of other cognitive abilities as measured in the study. The second key difference is that 5th level performers are significantly more authentic. They make sure that whatever roles they fill are as dependent as possible on the mental talents or abilities they naturally possess, not their ability to try and acquire new ones. Authenticity means filling a role that is true to who you are, not spending all of your time trying to develop new natural talents. The reason this is so important is because according to everything we know about how the human mind works, we can’t develop new thinking talents. Unfortunately, this is what most 1st through 4th level performers try to do. In other words, those who struggle to achieve significant success spend a lot of time trying – in vein – to change the core of who they are while those who succeed choose to focus their energy on better maximizing that which they already are. As the elder statesman of management theory, Peter Drucker, once said, “The key is to make weaknesses irrelevant.” Notice he didn’t say, “fix them.” Making them irrelevant means filling a role where they simply aren’t important or needed. That’s authenticity!
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