How successful we are depends on our performance. Only those people that do not know what it is like to be successful believe that success is dependent on outcome. Success is not about how much we win, or how much money we make; both of those outcomes can simply come from luck. To truly measure and engineer success we need to understand what is needed to perform at a high level. Throughout history there have been many ideas and formulas developed to describe how high or low performing an individual is and may be. In this post I will go through the different formulas of performance and end with describing the formula for high performance—and it is only through high performance that we become successful.

Potential = Performance

The earliest idea of performance is that it’s solely dependent on our potential or our natural born abilities. If you were born with the talent for something then you would be successful in that thing. However, this concept doesn’t account for the importance of developing skills and training.

Training = Performance

It is obvious now that potential does fully predict performance. Some individuals also speculated that maybe our potential is not what matters, but rather it is what we do—our training that does. Training does influence the quality of our performance, but just like the idea that potential alone influences performance, this formula is also laking.

Potential + Training = Performance

This is the classical formula for success. This explains that we are born with certain talents and abilities, but we need to train them to excel in our performance and be successful. This formula assumes that the key to success is to have certain genetics, and to form them through training. But this formula only describes performance, not high performance or success. Simple performance leads to mediocrity, and to be extraordinary requires something that is not described in this formula.

Potential – Interference = Performance

The next formula for success comes from a German physiologist who believed that we all have specific genetic potential to be successful in something, but that we need to get rid of the interference that is holding us back. This formula gives us a great insight into human performance that it is not only what we can add (potential and/or training), but also the interference that influences our abilities. However, this formula assumes that there is no need for training, and that is a problem.

Potential + Training – Interference = High Performance

We all have tremendous potential for something—not everything. We need to figure out how to channel our energy around those areas we genetically have potential for. Nature gives us direction, but then we need to see what things around us are best and that we love the most. Then we need to train the right way because practice does not make perfect, practice makes permanent. But more important than anything else is to keep interference out of the way. Doubt, discouragement, and trying to please others are all forms of interference that impact our performance negatively.

There are many individuals that are good at what they do. They have the potential and have spent the hours and days training necessary skills to improve their abilities, but they do not pay the needed attention to the interference that is holding them back from making that next step up the ladder. Just by eliminating interference our productivity will go up, our development will accelerate, and our performance will improve.

Success is dependent on performing at a high level. That performance does not only come from our potential, or from the training we receive. We need to use the potential we have, train it the right way, and ultimately eliminate any interference in our lives. Only then can we be truly successful.


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