Using Your Greatness Filter to Perform at Your Best

Last January I started a series of posts I called Recover You. They all built on the theme of actions and activities you could take to improve how you approached your work and your life. This year’s theme for the randomly dispersed posts is Greatness. The posts in this series will address how to make this the greatest year ever.

In my experience most business owners have incredibly noble intentions for their businesses.

greatness filter

photo credit: Marco Fedele via photopin cc

Sure, they want to make money and build an asset, but most start out simply wanting to do something better or more fully, to right a wrong in the world or to create a little freedom and control in their lives.

Then a funny thing happens that I will generically call “all the other crap.” (ATOC)

ATOC clouds those noble intentions and can eventually make owning a business the most soul sucking experience on the planet.

So, how do you keep the drain of ATOC at arms length?

It starts by creating and using something I call Your Greatness Filter.

For this use a filter is a tool that allows you to see the world around you in a predetermined way – a bit like the photo filters that are popular with mobile camera apps like Instagram.

Without intentional filters we turn into bundles of reactions and give over control of every situation to how we are feeling and what we are thinking at the moment.

Without the use of filters fear creeps in, we allow ourselves to be offended when someone “insults” us, we lose sight of our real mission and we make decisions that hold us from performing at what we know to be our best.

Without filters we tend to spend our time on things that feed the ego, such as checking Twitter stats, rather than things that add value to our business and relationships.

So, what do I mean by a Greatness Filter?

A greatness filter is your predetermined set of instructions for making your day to day interactions intentional.

Many business owners have developed a set of core beliefs that they use to build the culture of the business, but often times these beliefs, no matter how strong, aren’t active enough to guide the everyday and get lost in the swirl of ATOC.

Your Greatness Filter is a series of words or concepts that you can carry into every situation knowing that if you engage in this manner you will not only be living your most noble intentions for your business and core beliefs, you’ll also be performing and engaging at your best.

You can bring these words and concepts into every meeting, decision and interaction you have throughout the day as your “filter” for projecting your greatest intention.

Start doing this and watch how the tone and feel of your meetings and interactions both internally and externally transform into something much more vitalizing.

So for example, my greatness filter looks like this

Positive Energy – I want to bring positive energy to every room, every meeting, every phone call and every one on one conversation. For me that starts with reminding myself how fortunate I am to get to go on the particular adventure I’ve chosen.

Curiosity – I want to look at everything in new ways, challenge the routine and dig under the hood and find out why something might work and how something might work better if I stop to question the “this is how we do it” mentality.

Non-judgement – I want to stay open to the genius in everyone and everything (even if it seems like a mere morsel of genius.) By closing down and prejudging people and situations I cut off what’s ultimately possible only through deep, meaningful relationships. Non-judgement is a tremendous way to add value.

I keep these three words and concepts with me throughout the day and use them as my filter as I enter every new situation and evaluate every happening. One of the ways you make this thinking permanent is to look at how you acted and reacted after the fact and figure out how to do a better job next time.

Some of the concepts I listed above are hard for me. I naturally let me ego get offended, suffer from decision fatigue and listen to that little voice that seeks approval over grace, but when I take my greatness filter with me I’m reminded to work on bringing my best self as often as possible.

I find that all too often what happens in business is we lose sight of what’s important because we have no real tool to measure success on a day to day basis – it all just sort of becomes soup.

With a Greatness Filter you have a tool that allows you to ask and measure – did I add value, did I build others up, did I consider other ways to do this or that or whatever fits with your unique greatness concepts.

So, what’s your greatness filter look like and how can you make sure that it guides your day?


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  • Ann Bevans

    I like the idea of distilling the things you want to focus on in this way. Keeping it simple helps us remember that there’s a space between stimulus and response and expand it through purposeful action. I’ve found it useful to revisit my greatness filter each year. Occasionally I “master” one and replace it with something new, or I find that a certain ideal is no longer as important to me. Thanks for the thoughtful post!

  • MaeganA

    Great article John, “greatness filter” does not only make
    you to perform at your best but it also makes you smarter and admirable. :)

  • Glenn Yenulis

    I love the idea of putting a name to the way we really want to relate to others and gain a positive outcome from each encounter.
    Intently approaching each situation with a predetermined outcome in mind is an awesome concept. Thanks John.

  • John Watson

    Good article.
    I’ve personally found this approach particularly useful when I was stuck in the hospital for 2 months relearning how to walk. I also rely heavily on this in my day to day dealings as a business owner.
    The challenge I find is in the consistent application. It takes a lot of practice to become consistent with and it is real easy to fall off the wagon. So some assistance or a social accountability mechanism, a greatness buddy or a coach is often needed.
    It’s challenging to shift your thinking enough to get the practice in place in the first place. Then I found I needed someone to share the struggle with and push me back onto the wagon, when I often fell off. After several years of practice, I still find it challenging. I have to say, it is the only way to go and completely worth the struggle, in my opinion.