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Ten Lessons To Be at Your Best

Published on
June 10, 2022
Tony D. Thelen
Chief Product Officer at John Deere Financial
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In my family we like to play cards, and one that we've played for a long time is called Euchre. It's a simple game with only 24 cards and usually with 2 teams of 2. As much as some would like to say it's a game of strategy it really does boil down to the cards you are dealt. Like the picture in this article where I was dealt a very strong spades hand, and a jack of spades was turned over making spades the trump. Needless to say I cleaned house on that round!

When it comes to work sometimes it may feel like we are overwhelmed, or we just weren't dealt a great hand. Below are ten tips to performing at your best regardless of what hand you are dealt.

  1. Manage your energy. No matter what you are trying to do, eating right, exercising, and getting enough sleep should be high on your list if want to perform at your best. Taking shortcuts here can lead not only to brain fog and a feeling of being out of control, but it can lead to serious chronic health problems. Every hour is created equal, but with high energy what you get out of it is totally up to you.
  2. Manage your time. Take a look at your day, your week, and your month. Plan ahead. If you do this you will be shocked at what you can accomplished. Generally I keep track of 3 or 4 months out and look at it weekly, every week I look at the next week, and then inside a day I always prepare the day/night before. Always with intention to do my best.
  3. Track progress. I use a mind map for this, which is basically a spreadsheet that has everything I need to do, by when, and whom I'm accountable to or who is involved with me. I manage this daily and weekly in writing, then every once in a while will update the excel file and burn a new hardcopy. It takes the complexity out of my head and gives me peace knowing I have it on my mind map and I'll get to it.  Pro-Tip: Keeping track of what you accomplish will generally lead to an appreciation of all you are accomplishing, and at times it may surprise you what you are truly capable of.
  4. Have a generous/abundant mindset. Be open to new ways of doing things. Don't close doors. The world is way more capable and abundant than what we sometimes think. My biggest problem at times is deciding too early on a very inefficient way of doing something, or not asking for help when I really need it. If you need help, ask for it. If someone asks you for help, give it. People want to help most of the time, and it feels good to help others.
  5. Get feedback. Be sensible about receiving feedback and how you react to it. It's one of life's greatest gifts, even if you don't like the message thank someone for sharing it with you. Just imagine what it would be like if you didn't receive any feedback!
  6. Keep experimenting what works best for you. My highest productivity, by far, is in the mornings after an early run, 2 cups of coffee, and a light breakfast. Energy and creativity are at the peak all morning for me when I do this right. Figure out what works for you and keep tweaking it.
  7. Be positive and constructive. It's a choice. People who complain deep down don't really want you to agree with them, they want you to be the light in their day. Somedays this is really hard to do, but fight the temptation to go negative and you'll be better off.
  8. Maintain relationships. Make deposits in them when nothing is on the line. People can lift your spirits when you have a down day. They will sense something is off and try to brighten your day. But if you don't have good working relationships with people they won't take the time.  Pro-Tip: For you men out there, roses are cheaper and more appreciated when you give them on a day other than Valentines Day.
  9. Do your homework. Amazon made a process out of it by making everyone read the memo silently during the first 20 minutes of every meeting. Juma Ikanga, from Boston and New York Marathon fame in the 1980's, said "The will to win means nothing if you have not the will to prepare". Be the one who prepares, always.
  10. Become a learning sponge. Read, ask questions, learn how to use word, excel, or other tools. Last year I learned how to use Format Painter in word for the first time. I'm inspired by others who know excel so well. What is standing in the way of you becoming more efficient? Go forth, seek, and learn. Pro-Tip: It's occasionally helpful to unlearn something that no longer works or doesn't apply to your life right now. Learning isn't always additive, sometimes you gotta let something go because it no longer applies.

In general, we are always way more capable than what we give ourselves credit for, and there is often much more opportunity right in front of us if we would only stop for a moment, look, listen, and think. Walt Whitman I believe speaks to this sentiment best in his poem Auguries of Innocence:

To See a World in a Grain of Sand

And a Heaven in a Wild Flower

Hold Infinity in the palm of your hand

And Eternity in an hour

Thank you for reading The River, and if you have enjoyed it please subscribe to receive notification of future articles. Please help spread the word by sharing The River with your network with an encouraging word asking others to check it out. A special thank you to those of you who have posted comments to share your experience and advice. I'm grateful as these interactions inspire me, and I'm certain it has helped others in their journey.

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