But how do you feel about your own performance?

Something that has been bouncing around my head since an interview during the Olympics by Matt Lauer with Bode Miller. (I think this is the interview, but since I’m in Germany now, I can’t verify.) Matt asked Bode about a comment that he made regarding the gold not mattering to him. Matt was pushing about whether this was true, and from what I remember if it was disrespectful to the gold or not. Bode made a great point, and I relate to what he said. He does not judge himself by whether he wins the gold or not, it is how he performs compared to how he believes he should have performed.

It is easy to say that Bode is pretending to be above the medal. It isn’t that though. He values the gold, but he values his own judgement of his performance more. No one knows better than you how you could have performed. You know the conditions of the hill, better than you think, even. Yes, there are things out of your control, but that’s part of the sport. It is how you handle yourself on the hill. Did you respond the way you could, or did you hit snooze? This is exactly what Bode meant. Only he knows when he’s performed to his potential … 1 gold, 8 golds, or none. Do you regularly think about how you performed by your own standards?

I do and I find it frustrating. Bode has me on his Zen approach to this. What I love about it is that I do think it holds me to a higher standard overall. I know better than anyone what I can accomplish. However, as Bode points out, winning or losing takes on a different scope. When there is a mismatch between your beliefs on performance and the world’s, it is unsatisfying. Either you feel not worthy of praise because you could have done better, or you feel cheated because you did your best, and it wasn’t recognized.

So, what is the take away? Judge yourself by your own standards, but make sure you hold those standards high. Benchmark yourself with others, still staying true to you.

And why do you want to do it? Because ultimately for you, you do know best. Trust yourself, and challenge yourself.

Be Bode!

So what’s on my shirt today? This is from the Adam Bryant’s interview of Wolters Kluwer CEO, Nancy McKinstry, in the Corner Office column of the New York Times.

Every day, advance the ball

17 thoughts on “But how do you feel about your own performance?

  1. Pascal says:

    Great piece Jana!

    It’s an interesting way to frame this: For me the Bodes of this world were always those who are more interested in the work than the reward.

    When you hire someone and you don’t have a lengthy discussion about her salary or bonus but find yourself answering lots of questions about the actual work – that’s the moment you’re hiring a Bode… Not too many around – but when you find them, they are the most fun, the most inspiring and the most awesome people you can hang out with (and as you are a Bode yourself – hanging out includes your work).

    Now I’ve got a word for them – Bodes. 🙂

  2. Jana Eggers says:


    Thanks for adding the hiring aspect to this. I had not thought of it in that way. Now, I’m thinking of what questions you can ask to get at this. Right now, it is a few questions I’d add to my references checklist following some of the answers I got in the interview about best and worst projects.


  3. Matt says:

    Good article, great thought. I’m not sure to what or how much I agree with your conclusion, though… I can’t put my finger on why that is. I guess I think that it is important to do work (tasks, jobs, whatever) that is also important to others. When a “Bode” person has really high achievement goals or standards, that will work well within his or her field of endeavor. But “standards” exist for a reason – so that the work that is done can be determined to be valuable or not.

    Dilbert’s Wally has a high achievement standard, but in a field that isn’t valuable to anyone except himself. He can even be admired for his achievements, but it doesn’t advance or help anyone else.

    Your Bodes’ employees’ self-imposed standards still need to meet or exceed the “value” standard, or else they aren’t going to be a good addition to your team.

    – Matt H

  4. Jana Eggers says:

    Matt, you have a great point. I should have clarified some of this to make that more clear. Bode still needs to legitimately complete the race. This means he has to ski downhill, stay within bounds, make the gates, etc. He’s not a rebel (in how he skis) or having skill that’s not useful. It is a question about judging the quality of what he does, rather than what is done. Sometimes you win the gold because things just went right with you and it doesn’t feel like a gold medal day based on your own performance. And sometimes you don’t win and it was the best performance of your life… your own internal gold.

    Based on this, I think it is a good question to try to find out. Is the team member setting their own standards for their quality. Do they strive to be better even when they’ve been recognized as winning? Do they have the personal fortitude to know they’ve done good job, even when they’ve “lost”?

    If someone doesn’t care about the gold because they aren’t playing the same game, then I completely agree, you don’t want them on your team. If they don’t care about the gold, because they are using more than one metric to judge themselves, then you probably want them more… than someone else with similar skills but missing this component.

    Like I said, this idea has been bouncing around in my head since I heard it. I really resonated with what Bode said, and I don’t quite know how to place it. Yours and Pascal’s comments are helping me with that. So, again, thanks to you both!

    Happy day!

  5. Matt says:

    I think that’s a great synopsis: they need to be playing the same game, or a game you think it is worth playing :-). It’s about performance in the game, not about winning the game, but we’re all talking about skiing here.

    – Matt

  6. Right,

    and you sure know what’s worst and most of you have experienced it, I guess:

    You really failed and you were really below your standards but guess what – all of a sudden your boss (or whoever) gives praise to you for that performance. Or the other way around. (You excelled and no one realizes, not even the effect, business value, you name it)

    This is really where – whatever your self esteem – you ask yourself what’s going on. If that’s happening, nowadays I try to make a point of it to get the coordinate systems back in sync.



  7. Jana Eggers says:

    Markus, it is a great point to work to get the systems back in sync. Why are you off or why are they?

    And sometimes it is just “the weather” and you should still feel great about your performance remembering its just one event.


  8. Jonathan says:

    Great post Jana. To me, Bode’s comment was more a metaphor on life. It’s about the journey we take vs. the actual end goal. Of course, it is important to set goals for oneself (i.e. gold medal performance, successful career, great relationships, etc…) but once the intention is made or the goal is set, it is equally important to remain dispassionate about the outcome, no? That way, the journey towards the goal becomes much more enjoyable and memorable than the goal itself 🙂

  9. Elinfomatico,

    I have responded to your question via email, including our service team. I have checked for your orders, and there were 2, with one that was cancelled. The cancelled one was a little less in price than the one that wasn’t cancelled. The service team will follow-up with you to understand the situation, and work on a resolution.

    Thank you for contacting us,

  10. Hi Jana,

    I think what I want from my online store and what you think I require are world’s apart. Your website pitch is aimed squarely at personalised clothing and print-on-demand or advertising/promo orientated clients who want to announce/release a product/brand etc. Spreadshirt is amid difficult financial problems based on your current business model for items like customised T-shirts.

    I don’t need to promote the site, the brand, or encourage people to buy. That’s taken care of. I just want them to have the same options as in our “Real” store. They come in and buy a gift certificate. I don’t buy the gift certificate, they do.

    I seriously think SS needs to look at retailers as a new direction for spreadshirt, such as SHYC, and offer apps that work the same as in the real world. I can go to any other online store and buy a gift certificate, why is SS method so confusing? Being the shop owner I shouldn’t have to buy anything for my shoppers, I should be offering the easiest way for them to purchase my product. You should be offering the easiest way for shop owners to encourage purchases.

    I see sites like yours, now you have most of the bugs out, as the future for retailers to have a presence online for minimal set-up.
    We saw your site as a cheap method to sell worldwide, others will follow, so you need to have the apps to attract the retailers. You certainly need to re-think the Spreadshirt business plan and direction.

    You need a basic gift certificate and a basic way for retailer’s members to get a discount without making the shop owner pay! That doesn’t happen in the real world.

    Custom tees is chicken feed to what Spreadshirt could attract if they were also set-up to cater for retailers. Printfection are already heading this way.

    Good Luck.

  11. Hi, Matt,

    Thanks for the full feedback. You are right that we aren’t focused on retailers in this way. And you are also right that it presents an opportunity for us. This type of detailed feedback helps us get further.

    The only clarification I would have is that the current business is great, and we are exceeding our goals. It is a matter of resources and where we apply them. What you describe is on our list. We’ll keep expanding, so please keep in touch.


  12. Thanks for the response. Good to hear you’re working on a few basic options that shop owners would welcome.

    The other point I would make is, if I create a shop in SS UK and have an account with SS USA, I can’t copy that whole UK shop and have the same in SS USA? I had to remake the shop from the ground up. You need a simple FTP app that will transfer between SS websites.

    I realise they are different companies, have different stock lines etc, but the basic shop structure should be able to be copied and pasted into any SS website on the platform. Everyday punters wouldn’t realise Germany and USA SS aren’t the same company.

    When will you open an SS in OZ? Australia is ideal for another SS location to service the fastest growing economies on the planet. Also, Australia is the safest, most robust economy on the planet and we speak English!


  13. sac says:

    Why is it that every average Jane feels the need to make her opinions known to the world? Go and find a cure to cancer and perhaps then we’ll be interested in listening to you.

  14. sac says:

    It’s like the more mediocre the person the stronger her need to shout her unimaginative and opinionated babbling to the world.

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