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  • Writer's pictureJosh Klapow

How to Push Hard AND Get Results

We’ve all heard it; to get optimal performance we need to push or be pushed hard at times.  I couldn’t agree more.  But the biggest mistake I see coaches, executives, athletes – anyone with drive make, is pushing hard by telling people to work harder, do better, dig in.  We say this to our employees, our athletes, our kids.  We say this to ourselves.  We hope that in the attempt to push people to their limit, we will squeeze out their very best. There are two risks to consider:



1.     When people exceed their bandwidth, when they are pushed too far, they don’t perform their best. They can’t perform their best.  It’s the greatest risk every coach and athlete have. Have they gone too far where the body starts to fail.  Same in business settings.  We want the most out of our employees – and so we push. We ask for more hours, faster turnaround times, more deliverables with less resources.  All reasonable until/unless we exceed a team’s bandwidth- and then it all fails. As noted in FastCompany tracking bandwidth and performance vs hours dedicated is the key to finding optimal bandwidth performance balance

Clarity of Effort

2.     When we aren’t crystal clear about how we want “hard” to look we simply create cognitive noise and psychological stress.  Doing “more”, working harder, digging in have no meaning without context.  According to Harvard Buisiness Review, while it’s good for a team to struggle to gain mastery, undefined or poorly defined tasks lead to confusion. More of what? Harder at what?   When the ask for more effort has no specific direction, set of behaviors, or goals, then the ask is a source of mental noise and ultimately takes away from instead of enhances performance.


The greatest challenge for all of us. Whether we are leading others or leading ourselves, is to know that working within our physical and psychological bandwidth, not outside of it, is what drives success.  And if we are not explicit and clear about what it means to do more, and worker harder, then we are doing nothing more than entering noise into the success formula. Push to the edge but not past.  Ask for effort specifically, not generically. What do you want effort in?  How should that effort look? What should it translate into?  Riding someone hard is pointless if there is no direction.    Stay inside bandwidth and push with clarity and you will see the most out of yourself and others.


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