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  • Writer's pictureMatt Symes

High Performers Share This One Common Value

If you look at high performers who are highly content with their lives - a seemingly elusive balance for highly driven individuals - you will find one common value:

They start from a place of trust.

And that is a mindset we can all develop.

Man walking in nature during the early morning hours

1. Assume Positive Intent Assume Positive Intent, or API, is what Scott O’Neil, the former President of Madison Square Garden and the former CEO of the Philadelphia 76ers, implores as one of his seven guiding principles to keep you present, grounded, and thriving.

One of the top three books I’ve ever read is Roxanne and Benjamin Zander’s book The Art of Possibility. Each chapter lays out a set of mindsets we can all adopt.

'Give Everyone an A' talks about starting from a point of assuming the best in everyone. It was so influential that we’ve adopted it as one of our core values at Symplicity.

For the cynical, remember Hanlon’s Razor:

“Never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity.” Harsh, perhaps, but incompetence (unconscious and sometimes selfish) is too quickly chalked up to intentional maliciousness. It rarely is.

Are you Assuming Positive Intent in your interactions?

2. Trust - A Small Price to Pay for All the Upside So what if you get burnt from trusting too deeply? From assuming positive intent in a place it doesn’t belong? Sure, there will be people who violate that trust. But as Kat Cole, COO at Athletic Greens and overall leadership rockstar, put it:

“I really do believe humans are mostly magic and that we are all just unfinished magic and we’re more likely to be the fullest extent of our magic if other people see us that way first.”

So the upside of believing in people is so high and (not but) some will let us down. The frequency at which I am let down is so low compared to the frequency at which I’m proven right in people’s potential. And so it just feels like this tax; it’s like a single-digit percentage tax that is a small price to pay for getting all the upside that comes from looking at people as the great things that they are and the possibilities that they have in front of them.

Unfortunately, the human brain is wired to remember moments of pain more predominantly. They sting more. They stay with us longer. But the ability to reframe those moments and most importantly to put them in their proper context alongside all the positive interactions is critical to good relationships and a good life.

3. And Might It Not Be the Environment of Trust That Drives Different Behaviour?

Study after study have shown how we are influenced far more by our environment than we like to acknowledge.

The time and place shape the person more so than the person shapes their environment.

Jim Collins is a giant in the world of what makes high-performing organizations tick. Good to Great (and his companion Good to Great for the Social Sector) is a must-read for any leader.

When it came to trust, his mentor, Bill Lazier, put it quite simply:

“Jim, you need to decide which wager you’re going to make on trust. On one side, you start off assuming that people are trustworthy, and on the other, you don’t trust someone until they prove themselves.
…and Jim - don’t you think that the way you start a relationship just might influence the way others show up for you?”

Are you creating the environment for those around you to lean into their better angles? For them to step up because you believe in them? For them to live a better life because of your interactions with them?


PS - If you want to dive further into important insights and strategies for pushing through growth challenges and scaling up your organization, check out the latest Racki & Symes podcast.


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