40-Day Business Leadership Peak Performance Programme Day 19: Bananas

Can you believe it’s Day 19 already? How did you go with the bananas exercise? Are metaphors making sense? Bananas? Get on the plane? Here’s an example.

Jane is aware that the volume of interruptions from her staff impacts dramatically on her effectiveness. She even conducted a six-week survey and identified that 68% of the interruptions are related to matters other people can and should be resolving.  And yet despite the evidence, Jane continued to behave in a non-optimum way and continued to field the same volume of interruptions from her staff. So something is going on.

Understand Jane is behaving like this for a reason. One reason is she doesn’t want to get uncomfortable. The uncomfortable thing to do would be to ask her staff to only come to her with queries that relate to her role. That would mean she needs to assert her self. She needs to get on the assertiveness plane.

There is a theory of adaptive behaviour that says you can observe any behaviour for purposefulness, appropriateness and resourcefulness.

Maladaptive behaviour is characterised by behaviour that is inappropriate or unresourceful. But the theory says all behaviour is purposeful even if it is at times, inappropriate and unresourceful. The kid that broke into my home and stole my laptop was looking for money or something to sell for drugs, perhaps. His behaviour was purposeful, and you have to admit resourceful (he stole the laptop) but not appropriate. And he got caught and charged.

Whatever you are doing  – especially if it is unresourceful or inappropriate it still fulfils a purpose.  Jane realised that purpose of allowing interruptions is because she wants to be liked (or she doesn’t want to be disliked).  She hates saying ‘No’ to people because in her mind that has historically lead to arguments and conflict and has been stressful. So she found it was easier just to say, “Yes” even when it is against her better judgment. See Jane knows that letting junior staff interrupt her is plain silly. It’s not a good use of her time at all. And she knows this.

But it is familiar. And in her mind it appears to work. And it feels normal. The trick here is to inspect your behaviour. So this is the ‘banana’ she is hanging onto.

Right now she accepts interruptions all day every day. Ideally she wants junior staff to seek assistance from the appropriate staff member. Her plan is to find a way to quickly assess who the staff member needs to really talk to or better yet communicate to the staff that she is the last person to chat with only after they have exhausted all other avenues.
But that means Jane has to get uncomfortable and do things differently. She has to push through her comfort zone.

On Day 5 we talked about collecting excuses. I asked Jane, “Why don’t you …?”

“Because …”

Whatever comes next is Jane’s rationalisation for non-optimum performance. And she has already reached the limits of her comfort zone.


The homework today is to think of an benign issue where you are doing one thing but you know you need to perform a better way. For example, you need to make sales calls – the ideal – but you find a million and one things to do other than make sales calls. Then ask your self, “What do I need to say or do in order to move closer to the ideal?” “What specific action do I need to take?”

Pick an easy issue.

As an example, Holly pays her son $10 pocket money each week. One of his jobs is to take the rubbish bins out on the street every Wednesday evening for rubbish collection on Thursday morning. Most weeks he ‘forgets’. Holly ends up doing a mad dash at 6am when she is woken up by the beep-beep-beep of the dump truck reversing down the street. She decided she needs to negotiate jobs and pocket money.

Understand, if Jane allows interruptions she is sending the message “It’s OK to interrupt me.”

If Holly takes out the trash, the message she is sending is, “You still get paid even if you are unreliable.”

Play with this today.


Andrew Priestley is a qualified business leadership coach with clients worldwide. He is the author of The Money Chimp, Starting and How Money Flows Through Your Business. You can contact him through www.andrewpriestley.com

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© 2017 Andrew Priestley/TCE Ltd

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