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Every time we are thrown into any type of uncertainty, we’re forced to use time and energy to figure things out, making sense of what is entirely new. This is required whether the shift is deliberate (you decide to make a change in your life), or if it’s thrown upon us (a layoff or a global pandemic, for example).
Our ability to move through and continue to perform optimally during these times is grounded in the attributes that we bring to the table — not necessarily our skills.
Trust is more than an emotion. It’s a belief, and belief is an emotion that has been rationalized or justified. To believe anything, we must decide to do so. We cannot make anyone trust us. All we can do is behave in a way that allows that person to decide to trust us.
Empathy, accountability, and authenticity are not skills that we are taught and learn; they are attributes that we develop. While a lot of the skills that we define as performance can be seen, measured, tested and scored, the attributes that build trust are hidden and hard to see.
You can’t learn and develop attributes the same way that you do a skill. To develop an attribute takes self-motivation, self-direction, and a willingness by that person to develop that attribute.
When you are building a team, it’s more important to find the people who have the attributes you need rather than the skill. If the person has the right attributes, you can always teach them the skill.
The measure of true top performers is often not taken when things are going great — it’s assessed when things go wrong.
When the plan changes, the environment shifts, everything starts to unravel. This is how we judge our best performers. And the ability to still perform in these situations is not just about the skills. It’s very difficult, if not impossible, to apply a known skill to an unknown situation. This is when we lean on our attributes. Things like adaptability, perseverance, open-mindedness, and patience are what get us through when we are trying to perform in uncertainty.
We are always looking to explore and discover our potential, as well as those in our span of care. What we must remember, however, is that potential always lies in the future.
Potential is about what could be, not about what is. Skills only tell us what is, while attributes tell us what could be.
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