Striving with Purpose: Six Factors Separating High Performers from Average Workers

“Never wish life were easier. Wish you were better.” – Jim Rohn, American entrepreneur and speaker.

We usually know high performers when we see them, because their stars shine bright in the workplace. How can you tell the difference between a high performer and a high potential performer? The latter have the talent, education, and training to become high performers, but haven’t yet proven themselves (often because they’re still new). In fact, not all workers with high potential graduate to the high-performer level; conversely, not all high performers are considered high-potential candidates that move into positions of leadership. Of course, not everyone shines right off the bat. (Both Thomas Edison and Albert Einstein were deemed unteachable by elementary school teachers, and today they’re universally regarded as geniuses.)

Here are six ways to recognize high performers—and to become one yourself.

  1. High performers work hard. They may make it look easy, but it’s the ease of hard-earned competence. The most productive workers work both smarter and harder, because nothing less will get the job done and ensure high productivity. They don’t waste time or dawdle.

  2. High performers do their due diligence. As a result, they’re rarely blindsided by the limitations of their information, software, hardware, or coworkers; nor are they caught off balance when someone asks a probing question about their work. Doing your due diligence also makes it easier to complete the task smoothly and efficiently. Using myself as an example, I don’t just write books off the top of my head. I spend hours researching, reading, formulating examples, and getting my thoughts in order. By the time I start typing, it takes less time to write.

  3. High performers don’t wait for inspiration to strike. Artist Chuck Close once said, “Inspiration is for amateurs. The rest of us just show up and get to work.” High performers are dependable. Perfectionism and procrastination are rarely allowed in their workspaces. They know steady, consistent hard work is at least as important as talent, and probably more so. They also know that true inspiration is rare; in between, you put in the hours, pay your dues, and do your best. With enough repetition, your best will become very good indeed.

  4. High performers tend to work fast. A good work ethic, due diligence, a strict routine, and a thorough knowledge of the task makes it much easier to complete that task quickly and well. This boosts productivity; no surprise there.

  5. High performers never stop learning. They get as much training as possible, so they can do their jobs better, and both broaden and deepen their expertise to increase their personal ROI. They even pay for it themselves when they must.

  6. High performers innovate when they can. Innovation is one of the few ways to make tasks easier, benefit the entire team, and improve profits. Everything we now do is based on someone’s once-untested idea; if not for innovation, we’d probably live in grass huts and hunt for a living. So, when you have a chance to make a positive difference, take it.

And Another Thing…

Most high performers refuse to work for peanuts. The only time they’ll do so is when they’re independently wealthy (after all, bored noblemen founded most of our sciences); when they love their work so much they don’t care much about pay; and when they’re forced by circumstance to do so. If any of these conditions leaves, high performers won’t stay. Many corporations learned this to their chagrin after the Great Recession; when their high performers, no longer constrained by a hobbled economy, became their own bosses or left for greener pastures. Keep this in mind if you lead one or more teams.

About Laura Stack, your next keynote speaker:

Laura Stack, MBA, CSP, CPAE is an award-winning keynote speaker, bestselling author, and noted authority on productivity and performance. Funny, engaging, and full of real life strategies that work, Laura will change mindsets and attitudes so your people can maximize productivity, strengthen performance, and get the job done right. Her presentations at corporate events, sales kick-off meetings, and association conferences help audiences improve output, increase speed in execution, and save time in the office. Stack has authored seven books, including her newest work, Doing the Right Things Right: How the Effective Executive Spends Time (Jan. 2016). To have Laura Stack speak at your next event, call 303-471-7401, email, or CONTACT US.

Here’s what others are saying:

“Laura Stack’s session with a group of our seasoned operations managers was eye-opening. We all learned new ways to be more productive with the tools we already have. I’ve never seen each of our seasoned, experienced operations managers so engaged in a session. Many of our senior and mid-level leaders were wowed by what they learned and have already begun using the new techniques with their teams.”
—Mary Pawlowski, Learning Design, Piedmont Natural Gas

“What I enjoyed most about your presentation was that it was not only engaging but also practical in application. I’ve read everything from Covey’s system to “Getting Things Done,” and you presented time management in a way that is the easiest I’ve seen to digest and apply. Thank you for helping our system today!”
—John-Reed McDonald, SVP, Field Operations, Pridestaff

“Laura is an incredible speaker who takes practical information to improve productivity and efficiency and makes it interesting and fun! She has a great sense of humor and completely engaged our corporate and sales team. Laura motivated everyone to take steps to make their lives more productive and efficient.
—Molly Johnson, Vice President Domestic Sales, Episciences, Inc.

“Ms. Laura Stack’s program received the highest scores in the 13-year history of the Institute for Management Studies (IMS) in Cleveland! From the 83 participants, the workshop received a perfect 7.0 for “Effectiveness of the Speaker” and 6.8 for “Value of the Content.” Managers especially valued learning about task management, how to minimize interruptions, organizing with Outlook, prioritizing, effectively saying ‘no,’ how to set boundaries, and recognizing self-imposed challenges to time management.”
—Don Gorning, Chair, Institute for Management Studies Cleveland