Progress vs Performance
This post was inspired by the afternoon I just spent at UCLA with Elizabeth and Robert Bjork – two of the leading researchers in the world of learning and development.
When we’re faced with a learning experience we have a choice to make:
Are we focused on progress or performance? Getting better or looking good?
Many times our default approach is to focus on performance and outcomes:
Wins and losses
The bottom line
Numbers on the scale
These are all important parts of school, sports, and life.
When they become too precious – when we put too much of an emphasis on performance – progress, growth, and the process can take a backseat:
You can lose a few pounds by not eating for a few days. You meet your goal – but your health and wellbeing suffer.
You can get a good grade by playing it safe and choosing a topic that you already know – or by copying your neighbor – or by stealing the answers – but you’re robbing yourself of learning opportunities.
Your 7th grade basketball team can win more games by letting your 6′ tall post player shoot it on every possession – but in the long run both his development AND the development of his teammates suffer.
In short: the tactics that lead to quick and visible performance and outcomes are usually NOT the best approach to learning and development.
Sure, outcomes and performance can and do matter. It’s ok to want them and it’s ok to chase them.
Just remember that real outcomes and real progress are a reflection of a great process. And if you want better outcomes it’s all about improving your process – we call this ‘Learning Like a Scientist‘
Tips to help yourself and others do this:
Play the long game
Choose the harder option
Lean into struggle
Watch this amazing Ted Talk by our friend, Eduardo Briceño
Set goals but also focus on the systems and process to achieve them