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6 Living Principles of High Performance


26 May 2021

"In times of change, learners inherit the earth, while the learned find themselves beautifully equipped to lead with a world that no longer exists"

-Eric Hoffer, Philosopher 



High-Performance teams recognize leadership as an attribute of the culture that lives everywhere in the organization. When leadership is recognized as an attribute of organizational culture, it is immediately apparent that communication is at the foundation of a high-performance culture. At first, this may seem to suggest that a leadership culture can be developed simply by teaching people some tips and techniques about how to communicate effectively.

We have seen over and over organizations that attempted that approach, only to end up with disappointment. This happens because communication involves much more than the intellect, and while linguistic skills are necessary, they are not sufficient to establish a high-performance culture.

In addition to linguistic skills, what we call the Six Living Principles of High Performance must be actively practiced both individually and collectively to establish a leadership culture.

In our work with high performers in many facets of life - sports, military, organizations, communities, and families - we see over and over again that those who excel, tend to view the world a certain way. Those who have the ability but don't excel, tend to view the world a particular way. We see six key principles that are fundamental to performance - words that you've seen before. However, the interpretation you have of those words and how you implement them in your lives is critical to the actions that you take. 


The Six Living Principles of High Performance 

The living principles support a culture of caring and accountability that are at the foundation of trust and high performance.


Awareness refers to being conscious of, and accurately perceiving, what is happening in yourself and in the world, and in the interaction between the two. Awareness begins with the self - if you are not aware of yourself, and able to perceive accurately how you are interpreting the world, your ability to be aware of the world outside of yourself will be limited. Self-awareness is the foundation of effective leadership at any level.


Choice is centered in Awareness. You can only make choices about things you are aware of. If you are not aware of your own mood and beliefs - e.g., that you are angry or believe that someone has a hidden agenda - then your anger or belief will dictate your behavior and you will have no choice in the matter. Likewise, if you are not aware of another person’s mood and beliefs you cannot make wise choices about how to interact with that person. Coming from a place of "choose to" vs. "have to", can completely shift the mood of an individual and team. Try this experience.


Accountability gets thrown around a lot in our culture. From a high-performance standpoint, accountability is viewed as a personal choice you make to influence some aspect of the world. Accountability is more personal and involves a much deeper level of commitment than responsibility. While others can assign you responsibility, only you can choose to take - or not take - accountability for your actions. Likewise, while you can hold someone else responsible, you cannot hold them accountable - that is a choice only they can make.

6 principles of high performance



Honesty is more than “telling the truth” because “truth” has many layers. The degree of your honesty is proportional to the degree to which you reveal yourself. Telling someone your surface opinion, but not revealing your deeper beliefs or emotions, is a shallow level of honesty. Real honesty requires courage and commitment, and a willingness to be vulnerable and to trust others to respect what is true for you. 


Integrity is a measure of how fully your inner truth lines up with your words and actions. If you are fully in Integrity then what you care about and how you intend to influence the world around you are in complete alignment with what you say and do. You are fully transparent to others in your life. To the extent that you are holding something back or saying one thing but intending something else, you are out of Integrity. Integrity is deeply rooted in Awareness since you can only be transparent about those aspects of yourself that you are aware of. If those are lined up, people will trust you more. 


Trust arises out of assessments you make about other people. If you assess someone to be sincere, capable, and reliable, then you have trust in them. When you realize you do not trust someone or someone does not trust you, you should examine these three assessments to discover where the breakdown lies. Trust is also a moment-by-moment choice that you make in your relationships with others. When you choose to trust - or not - pay attention to what possibilities your choice opens and closes.

A Leadership Culture is one in which these six living principles, along with the necessary linguistic skills, guide the choices and behaviors of people throughout the organization.

When you are ready to develop your organizational culture and leadership, start here:

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