Sustaining high performance during a crisis

How have you been coping in recent months? Is your personal productivity at an all-time high, or have you been struggling to keep up and stay positive?

If the latter rings true for you, remember that you’re not alone. In life we all have an invisible load that we carry as we go about our daily lives. Now suddenly we have the Corona load to carry too, and all the changes it has brought about in our work and personal lives. 

What’s important is that you don’t unnecessarily add more stress to the situation by setting yourself up to fail. Many of us do this without even realising, such as setting unrealistic expectations for ourselves or others, or being inflexible and expecting everything to go perfectly all the time. 

Sustaining high performance during a crisis isn’t about “powering through” at all costs. It’s about recognising the incredible value of soft skills, such as good time management and flexibility, and cultivating them in ourselves and others.

It’s a big transition for everyone

Despite what you may have heard, the transition to remote working is not just technological. It’s social and psychological. 

The technology to work remotely has been around for decades. We’ve had internet, email, virtual private networks, Cloud computing, mobile phones and video conferencing for longer than most of us realise. 

However, many people have made a conscious decision not to work remotely. They do not want their work and personal lives to mix, and feel uncomfortable inviting work into their intimate spaces. 

Because this new situation has been thrust upon them, some of these people may feel compromised. And it’s important to recognise this instead of just expecting work and life to continue as normal. 

With this in mind, sustaining high performance in a crisis doesn’t mean driving people to perform. It means developing the soft skills that enable high performance, such as:

  • Resilience
  • Time management
  • Flexibility
  • Autonomy and self-directedness
  • Emotional intelligence
  • Conflict resolution

These are the skills that matter most right now, and the leaders who can successfully cultivate them in themselves and others will ultimately have a greater chance of success. 

Don’t forget too that even though we call them soft skills, they are (without a doubt) the toughest skills to learn. 

You are stronger than you think

To develop your soft skills, you may like to try a practice called “Use Your Strengths”.

It was first published by Martin Seligman, an American Psychologist, and people who do it frequently report feeling happier, less stressed, and more engaged in life.   

Here’s how to do it:

  1. Commit to a time each day to do the practice. You need about 10 minutes. 
  2. At that time, think about a personal strength you have (such as creativity, time management, positivity, curiosity). 
  3. Consider how to use the strength in new or different ways and write them down. For example, if your strength is perseverance, you may choose a few activities you found difficult recently and challenge your perseverance as you make your way through them.
  4. Repeat the practice every day for 1 week. You can choose different strengths each day or new ones. 
  5. At the end of the week write down the strengths you chose, the activities you did, and how the practice made you feel. 

You can try this practice any time, which I’ve found to be fantastic for developing soft skills and maintaining a positive mindset. 

Reach out if you want to talk

We explore practices such as these every Friday in our Positive Plenary sessions. Positive Plenary is a free meet-up, and is a great place to chat with like-minded people and discuss strategies for building and sustaining a positive mindset. 

If you wish to join, simply email me at  

If you would prefer one-on-one coaching so we can speak privately, please check out my coaching sessions. In the current environment, we can do these online or over the phone – whatever works best for you. 

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