The CR4 Book Club Blog

The CR4 Book Club

The CR4 Book Club is a forum to discuss fiction and non-fiction books that have science, engineering or technology thematic elements. The club will read and discuss several books a year. All CR4 users are invited to participate. Look out for book announcements and the ensuing discussions that follow, but beware of potential spoilers!

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8 Ways to Great: Peak Performance on the Job and in Your Life (Part 1)

Posted January 17, 2010 4:59 PM by Steve Melito

What do hedge fund managers really have in common with engineers? And why would someone who advises Wall's Street elite want to develop a dialog with a community of technical professionals? In 8 Ways to Great: Peak Performance on the Job and in Your Life, Dr. Doug Hirschhorn provides a practical, hands-on approach to career development. By putting these principles into practice, workers from all walks of life can reach the top of their game.

A performance coach, executive trainer, and television personality, Dr. Doug Hirschhorn is also a part of the CR4 community. Last year, at the height of the financial crisis, Dr. Doug blogged with us for the first time – and met his share of resistance. Anger at Wall Street burned hot, but Hirschhorn kept his cool. By engaging our engineers in extended conversations, the former trader refused to be a victim of guilt by association.

Hirschhorn's ability to reach an audience beyond Wall Street is also evident in 8 Ways to Great. In the book's introductory chapter, he challenges readers who ask what they could possibly learn from "the same guys who blew up and lost billions of dollars in the recent stock market meltdown." Some traders are better than others, of course, and Dr. Doug's clients are an experienced elite who "not only survived but even thrived" during the darkest days of the Great Recession.

The Eight Principles

In just over 110 pages, Dr. Doug Hirschhorn outlines eight important principles.

Principle #1: Find Your "Why?"

Why do you do what you do? What is your "core motivation", as Hirschhorn calls your "why"? Even for high-flying Wall Street traders, the "why" involves more than making money. Challenge, excitement, and job satisfaction are powerful drivers. So stop asking "how" and start asking "why", Dr. Doug advises. First, figure out what's "driving your engine". If you ask the "how" questions for starters, you'll only feel "deflated" at what's involved.

Principle #2: Get to Know Yourself

Passion puts elite traders on a path to peak performance, but it's their "high degree of self-awareness" that enables them to "make the most of their strengths and minimize the impact of their weaknesses". In this chapter, Dr. Doug asks readers to list their own pros and cons – and then muddies the water to offer a fresh perspective.

For example, difficulty delegating tasks may be your weakness, but you can leverage this trait to demand (and receive) only the best from your employees. Conversely, your ability to work long hours may be your strength, but job-related burnout is also your Achilles heel. With self-awareness, however, Dr. Doug argues that can maintain your equilibrium.

Principle #3: Learn to Love the Process

According to Hirschhorn, there are two types of goals: long-term "outcome goals" and short-term "process goals". Then there's clarity of vision. Before beginning your journey, you must learn to see through a glass darkly. Where do you want to be in one year or ten? The future is uncertain, of course, but you need a vision for yourself so that you can set appropriate short-term goals.

Dr. Doug's prescription is an acronym called C.H.A.M.P.® where the letters stand for controllable, hard, accountable, measurable, and positive. Controllable means that the goal is completely within your control and not at the mercy of external variables. Hard pushes you to the limit while accountable requires you to take responsibility for your actions. Measurable means metric-able and positive emphasizes the possibility of reward.

Principle #4: Sharpen Your Edge

A double-edged sword is better than a single-edged sword, but not if you fall on it. In this chapter, Hirschhorn likens "gaining a competitive advantage" to a well-honed, two-sided sword. To sharpen the side that represents your internal skills, start "by doing more of what you're good at and finding a way to neutralize what you're not so good at". To sharpen the side that represents your external knowledge, "gather as much information as you can and use it to make the best decisions."

Still, there are no guarantees. So when you're taking a risk, Dr. Doug recommends thinking like a casino rather than a gambler blinded by glitter and glitz. Engineers may work far from Wall Street, but they can "do the math" as well as any trader.

Editor's Note: Click here for Part 2 of this book review.

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