Performance Myth #1: You can hack success

There are no shortage to tips and hacks to achieve anything quickly and with little effort.  We look to those who have done it before us, and think, and sometimes even believe, that we can just take their best tips and do just that and we’ll achieve the same level of success and performance that they have achieve!  What makes it more alluring that many times these tips and hacks look so easy.

The reality is that you cannot hack your way to success.  There really are no shortcuts.  Achieving that top level of performance takes guts, perseverance and dedication.  It takes deliberate practice, even when you don’t feel like it – especially when you don’t feel like it.  There is nothing sexy, fun or motivating when you are in the slog of working towards reaching your goals.

We all want it.  We all have big dreams and goals, and we all want the glory and praise when it comes to performance.  We admire the athletes at the Olympic Games, scientists who made medical breakthroughs in research and found a cure for a disease, the entrepreneur who developed a product or solution that changed the world and made him a her a bizillionaire, the singer who went on to a talent show and got discovered overnight.  And we think we can do it too, by following the tips and shortcuts.

Again, and I’ll say it again and again: there are no shortcuts to exceptional performance.  We can all be exceptional in whatever we set our minds, energy and time to.

(not) Hacking Performance: Photography

I love photography.  I love to be able to create a different perspective of the world.  With the advances of digital cameras and the pre-defined settings or modes on cameras, people can now take very good photographs of just about anything.  What is great about these developments is that photography has opened up to the world, and many people have embraced the technology that helps them to capture moments in life.  But now I got sidetracked.  Here’s the jist: to become a great photographer, you have to immerse yourself into the world of photography.  The creativity comes from knowing how you can interplay aperture, ISO, speed, exposure and white balance to create the image you have in your mind.  Cameras and the variety of lenses available have an impact on your photo, so you need to know what to change to get the result you want.  And that comes from practice – hours and hours of taking photographs of different things in different locations so that it becomes instinctive – second nature.

And let’s not forget about the time and energy in photographic manipulation software.  When you have a great photo, a few tweaks here and there can change a photo from average to amazing.  The software can also open up a very different creative ability – layering photos to tell a story.  And there are no shortcuts to learning the skills to become a master.

Four years ago a joined a local photography club.  I thought I was good.  Looking at my photographs this year compared to when I joined, I can tell you honestly, I was only average.  I was a good photographer.  At this point, I have improved leaps and bounds!  But it took time and effort and taking lots of photographs!

(not) Hacking Performance: Running

There are tips and hacks for running your first 5 kilometre, 10 kilometer, half marathon or even full marathon run.  Just follow this programme for 6 months and you will be able to run and complete your first 10 kilometer run.   But will you be able to run a time comparable to what Bruce Fordyce did in his prime time running the Comrades?  Probably not.  The hacks and programmes are great to get you started, but top performance will need more than just a few hacks and tips!

Running marathons requires real dedication to a training programme, and that is also why runners have groups and clubs.  The social connection and support that the group gives, helps runners to stick to their programme and more importantly, to show up even when they don’t feel like it.

Running is a great sport where lots of poeple are participating in races, are members of clubs and run regularly for the health benefits and social connections.  But the high performing runners are operating on a whole different level of practice and preparation – no hacks will get you to that level!

(not) Hacking Performance: Public Speaking

Public speaking is one of those skills where there are tons of tips and hacks available.   From how to structure your speech, body language and movement to handling microphones and dealing wiht your nerves.  But nothing is better preparation than actually having to deal with those nerves and deliver a speech in front of an audience.  It is no wonder that public speaking is one of the top fears of most poeple, ranking right up there with fear of death.

No amount of public speaking tips and hacks will help you become a great speaker!  You will have to learn the technical aspects from speech writing and delivery techniques, but to become really great at public speaking, you will have to speak, get feedback, and speak again.  And again, and again.  The great speaker make it look so easy to speak and inspire large audiences!  They have done a lot of work to gain the skills and confidence to be a great speaker.


If you want to be come an excpetional performer, taking the shortcuts will not get you there.  Commit to the goal, design the process, commit to the work.  Then show up every day.

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