17. Performance

17. Performance

Performance is what you actually do while time elapses. Some people are designed to start things, to get things moving. Others don’t naturally start things, but finish what someone else has started. Some people naturally implement what’s already been started. Still others maintain what has been started.

Most people think that they should be able to start, execute, finish and maintain everything they do and do it all well. But that doesn’t fit our design. We’re designed to specialize. If we spend time trying to do it all ourselves, we reduce our effectiveness. We also reduce our enthusiasm and invite burnout by trying to do what we’re not made to do, by going against ourselves.

This area of time awareness is one in which people are always more aware of their weaknesses than their strengths. As with Rhythm and Focus, it is important to celebrate who you are and not spend time thinking about who you’re not. There are workable structures and systems to help you in the areas that aren’t your natural strengths.

As in all areas of time awareness, to work effectively in a team situation, you must be aware of your own natural Performance style and that of others on your team. That team can be your family, your spouse and yourself, your colleagues at work, or the people to whom you outsource work.

The four kinds of Performance are: Create, Execute, Finalize and Support. Most of us have combinations of these, but no one has them all. They are presented here in the most common combinations.


Create-Execute is a combination exemplified by the instigator, the upbeat morning person, the self-starter and the leader. They get us to move toward next-level growth, creativity and significance. They lead by example, moving first to get us going. They are natural leaders who prompt us to initiate action and projects.

Those with Create-Execute performance traits love to give birth to things, to start things, and to break new ground.  Approximately 80% of us are not self-starters. If a Create person was placed in a padded cell for a week with a non-self-starter, the other person would emerge as a lunatic while the Create individual would come out with a host of ideas and numerous plans for initiating any number of things.

Their Execute characteristic means it is natural for them to develop and give shape to any task, project or process that’s assigned to them. They want their fingerprints all over the process. They like to design the play, take the ball and run with it.

Since they are Create-Execute, they have no Support or Finalize abilities. They’re not designed to maintain what’s established or to complete what they begin. Their victory or reward comes at the starting gun, not at the finish line. They are like the chief surgeon who begins the operation and moves quickly to the crucial issues, but depends on others to support and close. Things can get messy and unmanageable for a Create-Execute if they can’t put support and closure systems in place.They need help from others to finish and maintain what they have developed.  They must set up systems and structures for closure and maintenance or a support team to whom they can delegate these stages.


Create-Finalize persons are those who love to be present at inception of a project and return to take part in its completion. Inception and fulfillment are the most dramatic and demanding stages of a project, and that’s what makes these people respond. The pressure to start or finish projects doesn’t intimidate them; they thrive on that pressure.

The marketing director who comes up with the original concept and then reappears for the presentation; the magnate who commissions a ship and shows up with champagne for its launching; the architect who designs a building and checks the workmanship before it’s occupied – all are Create-Finalize. They love to create, begin tasks, get contracts signed, get new projects going. They also love to directly impact the process and shape it. They’re natural at both beginning and completing jobs, tasks and projects. Their integrity lies in their keen involvement at key stages. They are landscape architects, not gardeners.

Create-Finalize individuals are self-starters, able to move others to action. They possess natural leadership. They’re not designed to maintain what they’ve started. They must have structures and systems of support for implementation and maintenance.

Their Finalize characteristic makes them strong closers.  They’re proficient at wrapping up loose ends and have the make-up to bring a project to completion.

Since they have no Execute ability, they need to break down assignments and tasks into small units they can easily perform. Here is a simplistic example: Christmas letters for all their business contacts may take a week to write, address and send out.  They’re frustrated for four days and rewarded on the fifth day when it’s done.  The solution is to block out small, do-able tasks: Day 1 – Write the letter; Day 2 – Get the envelopes; Day 3 – Get the stamps; Day 4 – Address the envelopes; Day 5 – Stuff, stamp and send. They’ll be back in the Christmas spirit when they drop the letters through the slot at the post office.


Execute-Finalize is the Performance combination for most people, and we are fortunate for it. Execute-Finalize individuals have the ability to implement what’s initiated, and they get the job done. They are the backbone of our society: the fulfiller, contractor, printer and production-line worker. They gift others with productivity. They love to carry a project to completion, to get the task done. It’s of chief concern to them that they personally finish what they start.

They’re natural at developing and shaping a task, project or process that has been given to them. They like to implement projects and are strong closers, good at wrapping up loose ends, with the drive to bring a project to completion.

They require external pressure in order to get started, and they need systems and structures to maintain what has been established.  They’re not procrastinators by nature, though they may think they are. They don’t put things off intentionally; they simply aren’t natural self-starters.  They need to be pressured to get the ball rolling. If a guest is coming for dinner, that’s their pressure point to clean the house.  If they have an exam at school tomorrow, that provides the impetus to study.

With no Support ability, they’re not designed to maintain what they’ve established. Again, they need to employ systems and structures that help them maintain, or they must have a support team to whom they can delegate.


Execute-Support people find their significance in helping you find your significance. You’ll have to look behind the green curtain to find the ones who hold it all together: personal assistant, wedding planner, office manager, and consummate homemaker. They don’t need to be in front or at the center. Their confidence is strongest when they work with a strong, effective leader. Della Street and Perry Mason come to mind.

They are comfortable in necessary, but not necessarily glamorous, jobs. Unobtrusively, they play pivotal roles in our lives. They are loyal and tenacious, supporting a project once it’s been delegated to them. Their strength is endurance.

Having the Execute ability, they are natural at developing and giving shape to an assigned task, project or process. They enjoy implementing, once they get started. They can be resistant to change.

Because of their Support characteristic, they are natural facilitators. Their significance and reward come in maintaining what has been established or created. It’s a crucial role because they’re gifted in ways that a large number of people are not.

They are without Create or Finalize abilities. Since they have no Create characteristic, they have a hard time getting started. They need pressure to get going. They have to be given specific tasks and encouragement when they start. They must set up support structures to provide starting pressure-points. Since they have no Finalize ability, they also need deadlines or other incentives to bring things to completion. Their focus and reward are not at the finish line or in the limelight.

I believe Execute-Support people display a quiet nobility in being able to find their significance in what they do, rather than how they are lauded. It is a remarkable form of independence. A dynamic leader is fortunate to have an advocate who enjoys projects delegated to them and one who tenaciously holds down the fort. They facilitate others to move forward because they provide support and provide peace of mind to those around them. Many people make a living by what they get. Those gifted with Execute and Support make a life by what they give.

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