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  • Writer's pictureTerry Dockery


The Vice President of Marketing was long past tired. She stared at the document in front of her without really seeing it; her mind was dull from fatigue. One of her Directors walked into her office and plopped into a chair across from her desk. He looked tired too. She mustered her strength and said, “I love this double digit growth, but I can’t maintain this pace much longer. I’m working really hard, but I’m not sure I’m working smart anymore.”

And she probably isn’t. Here’s the bottom line. Happy employees lead to happy customers lead to happy profits. It doesn’t get much simpler than that, but you’d be surprised by the number leaders who don’t understand this causal chain.

These leaders are always saying, “We don’t have time for touchy feely stuff, we’ve got to focus on profits.” So, who’s going to achieve those profits for you; your tired, frustrated, cranky team? If you’re lucky enough to have these leaders as competitors, then by all means capitalize on this weakness to outperform them hands down.

The real culprit here is perfectionism—it is rampant among high achieving leaders. I define perfectionism as setting superhuman goals—then telling yourself you’re a failure for not achieving them. The figure below shows the bell-shaped curve relationships among setting performance goals, stress, and ultimate performance. Keep in mind that our goal is sustained high performance for your organization, not “shooting star” performance for a short time followed by an inevitable “burnout.”

So how do you achieve sustained high performance? It’s counterintuitive, but you focus on:

  • Enjoyment over achievement, and

  • People over money

If you don’t prioritize this way, your organization will never enjoy sustained high performance. Sense the irony…


Technique #1: Prioritize enjoyment over achievement.

Technique #2: Prioritize people over money.

Technique #3: Set achievable goals that aim for “excellence” rather than “perfection.”

Copyright Terry "Doc" Dockery, Ph.D. All rights reserved.

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