An Experiment That Can Significantly Improve Your Performance


Today could be just another day for you. Or it could be one of your best.

The next meeting you lead could be just another gathering of the same people. Or, it could be one of the best you’ve ever led.

I’ve been running an experiment lately. I’m challenging myself to approach every interaction and experience with the goal of achieving a personal best. For example, before I get to the venue for a keynote or workshop, I’m asking myself, “What would it take for this to be the best keynote I’ve ever delivered?”

Athletes are constantly striving to beat their personal best. And in many ways, it’s easier for a runner or swimmer to know if they achieved it because there’s a timer to prove it. Our success as project managers and leaders may not be so easily measured.

But what if we aspired for it nonetheless?

The Problem

It’s so easy to get into a rut. We can coast toward complacency. Though we may not acknowledge our creeping comfort with status quo, we subtly, slowly, unsuspectingly settle.

Over time, settling for status quo sucks the joy out of what we do. It dilutes our potential and can easily spread to those we seek to lead.

What Difference Would It Make?

What difference would it make if you and I walked into any situation this week, striving to be the best we’ve ever been? I’m not suggesting it’s even possible to achieve—it’s about the aspiration. And I’m suggesting it’s a worthy aspiration.

Today’s meetings. Your discussions with team members. The email you’re about to write. The deliverable you’re assigned to work on.

And what about tonight, after you’re home from work? What difference would it make if you aspired to make interactions with your loved ones the best you’ve had despite a long day of work? This challenge has led me to reduce, even if only a little, how many times I turn to my devices. I feel more engaged in discussions.

Can anyone tell? I don’t know! Until now, I haven’t announced the experiment. But I can tell the difference. That’s enough to keep the challenge going.

It’s About Getting Better

Maybe it sounds exhausting! Maybe it sounds like we’re setting ourselves up for disappointment and failure because, as with athletes, it’s impossible to hit a personal best every performance. But the challenge thus far hasn’t yielded a cloud of disappointment. To the contrary, I’m finding it invigorating.

The athlete wants a personal best. I’m just looking to get better.

The athlete wants a personal best. I’m just looking to get better, and that’s what I’d love for you as well. Aspiring to make it the best helps move us closer to growing our potential and the potential of those around us.

Strive for a Personal Best Today

I’m about to head into a session to address a group of leaders at the United Nations. I am asking myself how I could make it the best session I’ve ever delivered. It may not be—in fact, it probably won’t be the best. But I suspect it will be a better experience for them and me because of the aspiration. And then I’ll learn from it and try to make the next one even better.

Join me in this challenge! Strive for some personal bests today. And let me know how it goes! Leave a comment below with your thoughts. I invite you to share this with your network to help them go for some personal bests today as well! Thanks!

Andy Kaufman works with clients around the world to help them lead teams and deliver projects. He is the host of the acclaimed People and Projects Podcast which provides interviews and insights to help people lead and deliver. Learn more at or listen on any podcast app. If you have an upcoming large group meeting, learn more about having Andy speak at

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