What do you have the capacity to do, and what internally is preventing you from getting there?
In Dr. Julie Gurner’s job as an executive performance coach, answering that question is her primary focus. Most people see the barriers to their success as being external. But achieving peak performance starts at a place of self awareness — knowing who you are and being brave enough to look inside yourself and identify your strengths and weaknesses, she says.
Gurner, founder of executive performance coaching firm Gurner Consulting, shares more advice for entrepreneurs and executives looking to reach their highest potential:
Trust the Process
Determining when you’ve achieved peak performance depends on your role and your industry.
For Gurner, it’s outcome-based. She has a certain idea of where a client needs to be, and it’s her goal to help them get there. But for her clients, it’s a process-based experience.
“We meet, and usually that person discusses with me, ‘This is the area I’m struggling in,’” Gurner says. “I always think they’re incredibly brave, because you really do have to face the things that scare you head on.”
Unlock Your Potential
Discover Dr. Julie Gurner's unique approach to helping high performers thrive.
For example, Gurner works with a lot of founders who come from engineering backgrounds.
“Not to put everybody in a box, but sometimes communication and people management can be more of a challenge,” she says. “And so, being able to get out front, manage people, being able to give clear directives, being able to motivate their team … can be hard. How do you begin to do that, step by step?”
Everyone has the ability to overcome these barriers, but Gurner works with reluctant leaders to help bring it out in a way that makes them feel empowered instead of self-conscious.
Find Some Inspiration
A lot of times, people look to business books or biographies of successful people to see how they overcame their barriers, which is a great first step. To take that further, Gurner recommends seeking out mentors who can share their experiences with you directly.
“If you’re a new CTO, or maybe someone who’s new to a CMO position, there are other people in those spaces that have probably navigated very similar hurdles and had to make similar decisions and can really help you with the tactical elements of your job,” she says.
In closing, Gurner offers these three steps to achieve peak performance:
- Identify your internal barriers to success.
- Push yourself and take risks to overcome them.
- Let go of the things you put a lot of energy into that aren’t worth your time.
For more leadership advice, watch the fireside chat with Gurner on our Fuel platform.