Maverick vs Iceman - Leadership SHIFT Tip

On a recent flight, my seat neighbor was watching Top Gun. Hey, it’s notBreaking Away, but watching Maverick and Iceman dance at 40,000 feet is a pretty cool adrenaline rush. Every time I watch it, I think back to a conversation that I had with a Wharton professor about bell curves.

Every member of Top Gun was an elite pilot — the 1% of the 1%. But once their training was over, not everyone received a glowing review. Because where you stand (or fly) on the bell curve is influenced by the performance of who’s standing next to you.

As we move from tribe to tribe (e.g., high school to college), position to position (e.g., director to vice president), or year to year (e.g., 2017 to 2018) our competition and higher expectations make it challenging to consistently receive an above and beyond rating.

You, like most of us, will feel average and in middle of the curve at some point in your career. When you do, it’s an opportunity to respond versus react.

Certainly you can complain about your rating because you’ve always exceeded expectations or feel that you’ve worked just as hard as last year.

Another approach is owning your current performance, working smarter, and using your energy to stay ahead of the curve.

But don’t buzz the flight tower when you do. It didn’t help Maverick and I doubt it will help you.

You go have fun storming the castle today. I’m going to try to get Kenny Loggins’ Danger Zone out of my head.