The Paradox of Optimal Performance

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MickeyM
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The Paradox of Optimal Performance

Post by MickeyM » Sat Feb 02, 2013 8:48 pm

The level of my performance and productivity in life (specifically in the work place and in social interactions) seems to be somewhat paradoxical. I'll provide an example: I've worked in the automotive industry for several years. I was hired as a service adviser (white collar job) yet I've always wanted to work in the shop as a mechanic (blue collar). I studied auto tech and gained lots and lots of hands on experience. Therefore I though I would be good at it. However, I really wasn't...OK at best. On the other side, I was really good at being a service adviser. To keep it short, anytime I think I should be good at something or want to be good at something, I'm not; and when I don't care or simply have no high expectation for myself in an area, I perform well.

Same goes for social interactions. I've been told that I'm a good speaker and that I'm very social. Once that quality of character entered my mind, then all of a sudden I'm not a good speaker or not very social. Rather than these compliments reinforce my positive traits, they simply do the opposite. It's like when someone says something good about me I have to keep on doing/being it.

Over the years, I've recognized this and can't seem to find a solution.

I'd like to hear your thoughts...thanks.

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rachMiel
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Re: The Paradox of Optimal Performance

Post by rachMiel » Sat Feb 02, 2013 11:02 pm

It sounds like you are getting in your own way.

When something "doesn't matter" to you there is no fear and you can behave naturally, freely.

When you declare something to matter -- consciously or unconsciously -- fear enters the equation and your actions become strained, unnatural.

A possible starting point for an inquiry into this:

What changes, in your head/attitude, when things that don't matter suddenly matter to you?
Merrily, merrily, merrily, merrily ...

MickeyM
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Re: The Paradox of Optimal Performance

Post by MickeyM » Sun Feb 03, 2013 8:50 pm

rachMiel wrote:It sounds like you are getting in your own way.

When something "doesn't matter" to you there is no fear and you can behave naturally, freely.

When you declare something to matter -- consciously or unconsciously -- fear enters the equation and your actions become strained, unnatural.

A possible starting point for an inquiry into this:

What changes, in your head/attitude, when things that don't matter suddenly matter to you?
That is exactly how I feel when I under-perform - strained and unnatural. Couldn't have said it better myself. To answer your question though, I guess this rise of expectation enters my mind as well as my attitude. I feel I must act and think a certain way in order to live up to those false expectations; and I see it now...I get all cocky and I think I know it all. I also get really self-conscious of my words and behavior - as if I'm monitoring & regulating my every single move.

Simple solution: Make nothing matter in my life? How would I stride to achieve goals or socialize well? Those things matter to me...

tod
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Re: The Paradox of Optimal Performance

Post by tod » Wed Feb 06, 2013 12:01 am

Optimal Performance
What is your idea of "optimal performance"? Is it when you achieve the optimal result at the end, or when you are not concerned that the optimal outcome will be achieved?

Or if you are not concerned, does that mean that the optimal will not be achieved, or that it has already been achieved?

MickeyM
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Re: The Paradox of Optimal Performance

Post by MickeyM » Thu Feb 07, 2013 5:26 am

tod wrote:
Optimal Performance
What is your idea of "optimal performance"? Is it when you achieve the optimal result at the end, or when you are not concerned that the optimal outcome will be achieved?

Or if you are not concerned, does that mean that the optimal will not be achieved, or that it has already been achieved?
Well that's the thing. It is when I'm not concerned about outcome, that the optimal outcome will occur. When I don't think about the best case scenario, the best case scenario will occur. When I do, then it doesn't happen. It is as if I get the opposite result of what ever I desire...obviously that isn't always the case but in key areas (work, school, socializing, etc) it seems to be evident.

To answer your question, my idea of optimal performance would be being totally involved in whatever one is doing which, consequently, results in an exceptional outcome.

tod
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Re: The Paradox of Optimal Performance

Post by tod » Thu Feb 07, 2013 10:11 pm

MickeyM wrote: To answer your question, my idea of optimal performance would be being totally involved in whatever one is doing which, consequently, results in an exceptional outcome.
Ok, and when there is total involvement there is only the project being done, no sign of you anywhere. You only 'pop up' when you think about yourself, don't you? That 'pop up' is ego, the thought-to-be self that wants to control life. And when ego does not pop up it is not totally involved; it is just not thought about.

MickeyM
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Re: The Paradox of Optimal Performance

Post by MickeyM » Thu Feb 07, 2013 11:54 pm

tod wrote:...You only 'pop up' when you think about yourself, don't you? That 'pop up' is ego, the thought-to-be self that wants to control life. And when ego does not pop up it is not totally involved; it is just not thought about.
Precisely! Anytime I under-perform that 'pop up,' as you call it, occurs. Every time that happens anxiety, nervousness, etc settles in. So what can I do about this?? I've read both of Tolle's books (maybe I need to read them again) and while I understand and agree with many of the things that he says, it is quite difficult to put them into action.

What have you done to diminish the ego? and. How can one excel in life without having the ego get to you?

spikyface
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Re: The Paradox of Optimal Performance

Post by spikyface » Fri Feb 08, 2013 12:59 am

Hi there Mickey

Not sure if I'm the best person to give advice but at work I fix stuff all day long (evenings and weekends too) and people keep coming back specifically asking for me cos they say I get things done where others dont/can't (I don't think that's particularly fair though considering different people have different levels of experience)

There's something I often say to managers though, "you can sack me if you want to, I don't mind" and this is largely because of a Buddhist teaching I heard Tolle say once (more or less like this)

Do not be concerned with the fruit of your action
The fruit will come of it's own accord
Give your fullest attention to the work in front of you, the here and now

So the way I see it, if I've done everything possible, there isn't anything more I could give or do and if that's not good enough, I have no problem with whatever the outcome is. If it doesn't work out, it just wasn't meant to be and I'll find do something else I'm good at

I've been telling them this for nearly two years now and they still haven't gotten rid of me yet, the department director said yesterday it would because I'd be rather hard to replace

Hope that helps
Do not take anyone as an authority on what you are. Ultimately all the answers lie within

spikyface
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Re: The Paradox of Optimal Performance

Post by spikyface » Fri Feb 08, 2013 12:59 am

Hi there Mickey

Not sure if I'm the best person to give advice but at work I fix stuff all day long (evenings and weekends too) and people keep coming back specifically asking for me cos they say I get things done where others dont/can't (I don't think that's particularly fair though considering different people have different levels of experience)

There's something I often say to managers though, "you can sack me if you want to, I don't mind" and this is largely because of a Buddhist teaching I heard Tolle say once (more or less like this)

Do not be concerned with the fruit of your action
The fruit will come of it's own accord
Give your fullest attention to the work in front of you, the here and now

So the way I see it, if I've done everything possible, there isn't anything more I could give or do and if that's not good enough, I have no problem with whatever the outcome is. If it doesn't work out, it just wasn't meant to be and I'll find do something else I'm good at

I've been telling them this for nearly two years now and they still haven't gotten rid of me yet, the department director said yesterday it would because I'd be rather hard to replace

Hope that helps
Do not take anyone as an authority on what you are. Ultimately all the answers lie within

tod
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Re: The Paradox of Optimal Performance

Post by tod » Fri Feb 08, 2013 1:04 am

MickeyM wrote:Precisely! Anytime I under-perform that 'pop up,' as you call it, occurs. Every time that happens anxiety, nervousness, etc settles in.
No, it is the other way around. Any time you pop up or into 'what is happening' and start thinking about your involvement in it, evaluating, making judgements, etc, eg "I am doing this" or "I under perform", then there is no longer the optimal. It is precisely your involvement that is the problem.
So what can I do about this??
Well, you've seen what your involvement does, so keep noticing this. Eventually you will see that your involvement is not needed. This will likely happen gradually, and may need to be asserted.
I've read both of Tolle's books (maybe I need to read them again) and while I understand and agree with many of the things that he says, it is quite difficult to put them into action.
It is only difficult for ego (who you think you are) as ego ALWAYS wants to be involved. Notice this.
What have you done to diminish the ego?
I (Awareness) have not done anything except notice what happens when I (ego) gets involved, and this has slowly resulted in me seeing that I am not essentially ego but that which is aware, awareness. I sometimes have to assert what I really am.
and. How can one excel in life without having the ego get to you?
The ego does not "get to you" it is who you think you are. You naturally excel at life when all your (ego's) assessments, standards, judgements, beliefs, etc are not 'overlaid' on the optimal.

MickeyM
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Re: The Paradox of Optimal Performance

Post by MickeyM » Sat Feb 09, 2013 11:35 pm

spikyface wrote:Hi there Mickey

Not sure if I'm the best person to give advice but at work I fix stuff all day long (evenings and weekends too) and people keep coming back specifically asking for me cos they say I get things done where others dont/can't (I don't think that's particularly fair though considering different people have different levels of experience)

There's something I often say to managers though, "you can sack me if you want to, I don't mind" and this is largely because of a Buddhist teaching I heard Tolle say once (more or less like this)

Do not be concerned with the fruit of your action
The fruit will come of it's own accord
Give your fullest attention to the work in front of you, the here and now

So the way I see it, if I've done everything possible, there isn't anything more I could give or do and if that's not good enough, I have no problem with whatever the outcome is. If it doesn't work out, it just wasn't meant to be and I'll find do something else I'm good at

I've been telling them this for nearly two years now and they still haven't gotten rid of me yet, the department director said yesterday it would because I'd be rather hard to replace

Hope that helps
This was actually a lot of help. Thanks for sharing.

I once felt like this before. Not caring about the outcome and just simply doing my job or being me. It felt great! I performed well in every area of my life. Everything came natural to me and the negative things around me didn't bother me. When my boss yelled at me, I responded in a similar fashion as you described. Then slowly I started to question my happiness/contentment. I started comparing myself to others. Seeing how upset, stressed, and unhappy they were. It was all around me. I thought maybe I'm being naive - oblivious to reality. That my happiness was somehow falsely rooted. It's hard to explain, I hope you guys/girls understand what I'm trying to say.

...but once I started to do that, all things came crashing. Little by little I felt my contentedness drift away. Happiness and clarity were slowly being replaced by anger, resentment, judgement, and a false sense of identity. At my work, I was no longer 'Mike.' I was a stressed out service adviser because all the other service advisers were stressed. In my relationship, I was no longer 'Mike.' I was playing the role of a boyfriend - an ideology of what I thought a boyfriend is suppose to be. People told me I was a good salesmen. So I started to play the role of what I thought a good salesmen is suppose to be. I feel like I fully compromised my true self in hopes to fulfill what others thought of me.

I've realized that mistake which leads me to this forum for some insight and advice. So far, you guys have been helpful. Any comments on my rant above would be appreciated.

MickeyM
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Re: The Paradox of Optimal Performance

Post by MickeyM » Sat Feb 09, 2013 11:47 pm

No, it is the other way around. Any time you pop up or into 'what is happening' and start thinking about your involvement in it, evaluating, making judgements, etc, eg "I am doing this" or "I under perform", then there is no longer the optimal. It is precisely your involvement that is the problem.
Ok, maybe a mix up in how we use our words but that's exactly what I mean. By you stating "it is precisely YOUR involvement that is the problem" - do you use the term 'your' as in that 'pop-up' as you explained? When I meant involved, I meant that there is no additional 'me.' When I'm in this state, I somewhat don't exist and all that matters is the activity that I'm doing at that moment. It is in this moment, I'm optimal. When 'I' pop-up, I'm not optimal.
It is only difficult for ego (who you think you are) as ego ALWAYS wants to be involved. Notice this.
Thanks for the reassurance. I've always noticed that the ego surfaces the moment I begin to be present. As if it's knocking at my door saying "hey don't leave me, I'm truly you." I've had a hard time differentiating the ego from consciousness/instinct/etc..

spikyface
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Re: The Paradox of Optimal Performance

Post by spikyface » Sun Feb 10, 2013 11:17 am

MickeyM wrote: This was actually a lot of help. Thanks for sharing.
Glad it helped

Based on what you said in your above post, it doesn't sound like it's just you that's unhappy at your current workplace

You mentioned that all the other service advisers are stressed, unhappy, upset and that your boss occasionally yells at you. All are indicative of a poor work environment but the last one is extremely unprofessional behavior for a manager and demoralizing for a team

Is it possible that you've just been in a difficult situation for too long and it's starting to wear you down? Support/service adviser roles tend to have a high staff turnover rate for exactly this reason. How long have you been in this role at this company and do you think it's time for a change? What is the staff turnover rate like for your team/company?

I think that sometimes the wise choice is to remove yourself from a largely unconscious environment, rather than desperately trying to remain conscious against a company culture that seems rooted in unconsciousness
Do not take anyone as an authority on what you are. Ultimately all the answers lie within

runstrails
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Re: The Paradox of Optimal Performance

Post by runstrails » Sun Feb 10, 2013 4:46 pm

spikyface said:
Do not be concerned with the fruit of your action
The fruit will come of it's own accord
Give your fullest attention to the work in front of you, the here and now

So the way I see it, if I've done everything possible, there isn't anything more I could give or do and if that's not good enough, I have no problem with whatever the outcome is. If it doesn't work out, it just wasn't meant to be and I'll find do something else I'm good at
Lovely post Spiky. It's the very definition of Karma Yoga (in Advaita). Good to hear you are well!

MickeyM
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Re: The Paradox of Optimal Performance

Post by MickeyM » Sun Feb 10, 2013 7:02 pm

runstrails wrote:
spikyface said:
Do not be concerned with the fruit of your action
The fruit will come of it's own accord
Give your fullest attention to the work in front of you, the here and now

So the way I see it, if I've done everything possible, there isn't anything more I could give or do and if that's not good enough, I have no problem with whatever the outcome is. If it doesn't work out, it just wasn't meant to be and I'll find do something else I'm good at
Lovely post Spiky. It's the very definition of Karma Yoga (in Advaita). Good to hear you are well!
Yea, I like that a lot. I'll write that down and keep it in my wallet.

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