InsideOut Development

Interference: The Impediment of Performance

by Pivot Point


At InsideOut Development, we believe that everyone has the capacity to learn and perform at a higher level. A manager’s job is to draw that greatness out of employees—to maximize performance and draw out potential. Understanding the key elements of performance allows a coach to target their coaching and maximize effectiveness.

We’ve synthesized the four elements of performance into the Performance Wheel.

Understanding the Performance Wheel will allow coaches and individual contributors to identify how performance can be improved and use the GROW Model to make it happen.

But that understanding of the Performance Wheel and the GROW Model is not complete without understanding a natural element of life not directly mentioned in either model, but that can cause problems for both if not taken into consideration.

This element is known as Interference. Interference often acts directly against us in our attempts to bring our performance to a higher level. In fact, part of the role of both the Performance Wheel and the GROW Model is to help overcome interference in order to achieve a higher level of performance.

Interference is anything that keeps you from high performance, or as Merriam-Webster kindly informs us, anything put between you and your objective in a way that hinders or impedes.

Just from that small definition, interference suddenly becomes a very daunting word. Things are constantly hindering us and keeping us from performing at our best. Why, sometimes you accidentally end up being your own biggest impediment!

And while Merriam-Webster’s definition is certainly accurate, it’s almost too broad to be easily digestible. To make it more easily digestible, there are two basic types of Interference: external and internal.

External interference is, by and large, outside of your control. It’s everything that happens around you that makes your life more difficult and gets in the way of your performance. On any average day that might include traffic, family emergencies, erratic technology, poor communication, or outdated work policies.

While some forms of external interference, like traffic, are beyond any one person’s control, a good coach should be willing to listen to their coachees concerns and do their best to eliminate what external interference they can, whether it be updating work policies or improving communication protocols. When this isn’t possible, the only thing you can do is plan around bits of interference that you either think or know may be a problem, and then adapt as you go to changes in circumstances caused by unexpected interference.

External interference does, however, often feed into our internal interference. Internal interference is your mental and emotional state. It’s the emotions you feel and the things you tell yourself that stop you from being successful. This can be caused by external interference—frustration at a traffic delay, confusion due to poor communication—but doesn’t always have to be. After all, you don’t always need an excuse to engage in self-critical dialogue or convince yourself that you aren’t up to the task at hand.

Fortunately, internal interference is something that you can control, at least to a degree. While you might not be able to stop the initial burst of frustration, doubt, or confusion, you can certainly choose whether to linger on those emotions.

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Using the Performance Wheel to Manage Interference

Overcoming this sort of internal interference is not easy. Emotions and thoughts are often pervasive and persistent. Focusing on them only gives them more power. And if you’ve ever told yourself not to think about something—purple elephants are just one example—you know how effective, or ineffective, that process can be.

What do you choose to pay attention to? How long do you spend ruminating over things that you can’t change? Do you dwell on negative self-talk?

The answers to those questions are things you can control. You may not be able to control traffic, but if you spend all day grumbling about the fact that your fifteen-minute commute took an hour, the traffic is no longer the interference, you are.

When it comes to internal interference, there are three major avenues that it can come through: Knowledge, Fire, and Faith. You may recognize these terms as three of the four components of the Performance Wheel.

Focus, the fourth component, and the component you have most personal control over, functions as the lever to unhinge Interference and bring the Performance Wheel back into alignment.

Knowledge acts primarily as interference when you don’t have the knowledge you need or you lack the skills required. It’s also fairly simple, conceptually, to fix. Once you realize your lack of knowledge is interfering with your progress, the only way to fix it is to set your focus to gaining that knowledge.

It’s likely that everyone has experienced interference with their Fire at one point or another. It normally sounds something like ‘I really don’t want to do this project,’ or ‘This assignment is a waste of my time.’ The words you use may vary, but it all comes back to the same thing. You have no passion for the work.

Your application of focus to get past this sort of interference is not quite as simple as it is with knowledge, you can’t just focus on being passionate. Instead, you need to apply Focus elsewhere. Where you choose to focus depends on what will best help you push through the task. Will focusing on what you can do only after this project is done act as a motivator? Then focus on that. Will focusing on how nice it will be to cross this off your to-do list help? Then focus on that.

Focus on the part of the task (be that an actual part, or the part where you get to say ‘done’) that does invite your passion.

Like Fire, Interference within Faith is something most everyone has experienced. It’s readily present in negative self-talk and self-doubt. Like Fire, it’s not necessarily as simple as focusing on having Faith. The problem with Faith is that it very easily mixes itself in with our perception of reality. We believe something to be so, so therefore it must be.

When this happens, you need to Focus, not on the reality, but on what you can do to change it. Can you not do this task? Well, then you need to focus on learning how. Are you not getting the support you need? Then your next step will be obtaining that support. It gets easy to get stuck in the negative. To see a problem and not see how to get past it.

But that ignores your ability to have an impact, that ignores your ability to focus on moving forward and being successful. Because you can.

Using the GROW Model to Manage Interference

Of course, it’s not always as simple as saying, ‘Oh, this is where I’m experiencing interference!’ And then fixing it. Sometimes, it’s easy to recognize that you’re hitting interference, you just aren’t sure where exactly that interference is coming into play. This is where the GROW Model can help.

When using the GROW Model correctly, it will become clearer where the problem is and what the necessary next step is.

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Focusing on the Reality of the situation, what you can’t do, what you haven’t done, what’s stopping you (even if what’s stopping you, is you), will be a reflection of the source of Interference. And once you’ve come to terms with Reality, Options will help you figure out what you can do to work past that interference.

There is a another more subtle, but thoroughly devastating form of interference that needs to be mentioned, particularly because it is a form of interference that is less likely to be immediately recognized.

It’s subtle and devastating because it looks very much like what we’re aiming for. Focused effort toward the accomplishment of a goal.

The problem occurs, when that Focus and that Goal are actually a distraction from what really matters. How often do you put your focus on a project or goal that doesn’t help you get any closer to your actual vision? Maybe the original concept of the goal was in the right place, but things got sidetracked, or maybe the goal never fulfilled the necessary objective in the first place, but you didn’t realize at the time.

The GROW Model, when used correctly, is intended to avoid this type of interference by ensuring that your focus is on goals that help move you forward in the direction you want, and need, to move by ensuring you follow the proper sequence in problem-solving.

Interference is something you will always have to handle when working toward higher performance. There is no one-time-fixes-all cure. However, while interference is a genuine threat to higher performance, it is not an insurmountable one. The Performance Wheel and the GROW Model both provide opportunities and ways to overcome interference every time it shows up.

To learn more about the elements of the Performance Wheel and the GROW Model and how they help achieve higher performance check out the links below.

The Performance Wheel and the GROW Model








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InsideOut Development is the world leader in workplace coaching. Quite simply, we help clients hold the conversations that energize people, motivate action, and lead to better—even incredible—business performance. PivotPoint is the voice of the InsideOut Development blog. We hope you’ll find inspiration to act as a “pivot point” in your trajectory (be it personal or professional) and to fuel your everyday breakthroughs.

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