Performance versus Potential

Imagine you own an old computer and its speed is limited by the amount of random access memory, or RAM.

If you were to replace this computer’s processor, you would increase its potential: You have increased the possibility that it will be faster in the future.

However, if you increase its RAM, you have improved performance. The effects and benefits of this action are immediate.

The distinction between increasing performance versus potential is very important if you rapidly want to move to high performance. A big trap in business is that significant energy, time and money are often spent on what could be, instead of immediate nourishment.

Typical examples of choosing potential over performance:

  • The decision to invest in future capacity. The thinking is that if you invest in it, the results will follow. They seldom do.
  • Training of people in skills they might need for the future. Newly acquired skills will be effective only if they can be applied immediately and consistently. Otherwise, training is a waste of time, money and energy.
  • Intake of information that is not immediately actionable. When was the last time you spent an hour browsing magazines without getting a new single actionable idea?

The comfortable excuse of extending future potential often stands in the way of maintaining focus on immediate performance.

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