Sign up for the Summer 28 Days of Reinvention® cohort!

Are You Addicted to Performance Culture?

(First appeared in WRAL TechWire.)

So... last week I introduced the topic of performance culture. And boy, oh boy, do folks in leadership love to talk about this subject. CEOs and mid-level managers alike can’t pass up the opportunity to share their success formula that usually includes stretch goals, high performers and golden outcomes.

Sure I get it, but this obsession with performance feeds the narrative that to land a Series A round, be considered for the SVP role or have a storybook ‘meet-cute’ you must be perfect in just about every way. Hell, am I allowed to post an IG photo without lipgloss? Even Hollywood has picked up on this, in shows like WeCrashed and Super Pumped.

So, the question is: are we becoming addicted to performance culture?

Now listen, I’m a high-performer so the idea of turning away from performance culture can feel a little scary. After all, aren’t the two things connected?  The answer is… not always. Operating outside the influence of performance culture and a performance culture addict have two different vibes.

A measured high performer is often vibrant, productive and energized, connected to the work but able to say no before the point of overwhelm.

On the other hand, a performance culture addict is reactive and driven to over-sacrifice and over-perform. They often feel anxious, burnt out and/or resentful.

Still not sure which camp you fall in?  These questions might help.

  • Do you forsake your personal core values to win at work?

  • Do you feel you need to earn the right to rest?

  •  When you see someone ‘killin’ it’, are you tempted to tear them down privately and undervalue their accomplishments publicly?

  • Have you convinced yourself that if you slow down, someone else will run you over?

  • Do you believe that joy and fulfillment can live in the quiet moments or do you see those moments as ‘wasted opportunities’?

  • Do you worry that if you didn't post your "win" today on basically didn't happen?

If you felt yourself get a little defensive while running through those questions, you’re not alone. It’s easy to fall in to the addiction of performance culture. But instead of pointing a finger, ask why you felt uneasy or defensive. An exercise like this can be so valuable in understanding what’s at the heart of your decisions.

My hot take: We don’t need to chase perfection to be relevant. In fact, I would argue that giving our quirks and imperfections room to breathe makes space for a whole new and authentic kind of magic.

Keep your eyes peeled for the next two parts of this series, in which we’ll dig deeper into both understanding and countering performance culture. See you then!



Sign up for our newsletter and get info on how to join our new free online community, Campfire Circles! 

Let's Get Out on the Road!

50% Complete

Two Step

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua.