How High-Performance Mode is Better Than Grind-It-Out Mode



“If we did the things we are capable of, we would astound ourselves.”Thomas Edison

There are two distinct ways that people get results: grind-it-out mode and high-performance mode.

In grind-it-out mode, the process is hard and grinding, and it leaves you exhausted and burnt out.

In high-performance mode, we feel enthusiastic, work flows easily, and the results exceed our expectations.

We get in high-performance mode by applying our individual High Performance Patterns – the distinctive sequence of steps we naturally follow when we are at our best.

In the book Patterns of High Performance: Discovering the Ways People Work Best, Jerry L. Fletcher explains the difference between getting results through grind-it-out mode vs. high-performance mode.

Grind-It-Out Mode vs. High-Performance Mode

Here is a summary of the two ways of getting results:

Grind-It-Out Mode High-Performance Mode
  • Aim for Predetermined Results
  • Hard Grinding Effort
  • Exhausted and Relieved When It’s Over
  • Aim for Better Than Expected Results
  • Easy and Flowing
  • Energized and Wistful When It’s Over


The Grind-It-Out Mode

Grind-it-out mode is just like it sounds:  You slog your way through things until they are done.

Fletcher  writes:

“In grind-it-out mode, people have predetermined definitions of the results they are to achieve, and they strive for those results. 

As the name suggests, the process is hard and grinding, and once the result has been achieved, most people simply feel exhausted and relieved. 

Meeting a deadline or making a quota are common examples.”

The High-Performance Mode

High-performance mode, on the other hand, is more like a flow experience.

Fletcher  writes:

“High-performance mode contrasts sharply with this picture.  When people recount a high-performance experience, there was a point at which the activity took off and seemed to have a life of its own. 

The people involved began to delight in the unexpectedly good results that they were achieving. 

The experience had the quality of being easy and flowing, even if participants were tired at the end. 

And, in contrast to a grind-it-out experience, people at the end of a high-performance experience are wistful. 

They wish it could have continued, and in some sense they fear that they’ll never be able to have it happen again.”

Grind-It-Out Mode Leads to Exhaustion and Burnout

Sure you can pull all-nighters and try to meet crazy deadlines. 

But for how long and at what cost?

Fletcher writes:

“Any person who has attained even a modest level of success  has the capacity to grind out almost any task an an acceptable level of performance, even under difficult circumstances. 

We can all discipline ourselves, drive ourselves, and pull all-nighters to meet deadlines if we have to. 

However, very few people actually do their best work in this way.  And this mode of working has significant consequences: exhaustion and burnout. 

No one can operate in grind-it-out mode for long without a serious drop in performance.  It simply is not a sustainable route to high performance.

Despite this seemingly obvious fact, many companies unwittingly keep employees in grind-it-out mode as a matter of policy. 

They use various pressures and incentives to enforce conformity to company-sanctioned methods, believing that this is either the best or the only way to sustain results over time. 

The number of companies that drive their people through a combination of tight deadlines, peer pressure, management sanctions, and rewards for winning are staggering. 

The consequences of these policies are often highly visible: Personal are exhausted and burned out.”

High-Performance Mode Leads to Less Effort, Less Stress, and Better Results

When you work using YOUR personal best way of working, you achieve better results with less effort and less stress.  And, most importantly, this is a more sustainable approach.

Fletcher writes:

“In contrast, high-performance mode generates outstanding results and enables an organization to achieve much higher, more sustainable performance with less effort and less stress. 

It involves helping people find a way to do their work that is consistent with their High-Performance Patterns, their best way of working

Using their patterns elevates their performance to a new level. 

They can sustain performance at this new level because the means are integral to the person who has reached it.”

High-Performance Mode Improves Results by 25 to 50 Percent

If you take the time to find your high-performance pattern, you can achieve outstanding gains in your results.

Fletcher writes:

“We have used High-Performance Patterns to improve performance in real-world situations for more than ten years by helping people find the way of achieving results that matches their personal success pattern. 

You will see as you read on that, by using High Performance Patterns to adjust their actions deliberately, individuals and companies have achieved the payoffs that far outweigh the effort required to identify the pattern

Results often improve by 25 to 50 percent.  And most of the time the new level can be sustained naturally.”

If you find yourself grinding your way through your work, see if you’re getting in your own way.

Your past leaves clues about how you work your best and what you need to succeed.

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  1. Hi J.D.,

    Excellent post. Instinctually I know that “high-performance” is optimal for so many reasons. I live in the “grind-it-out” space and the results speak for themselves. Thanks for shining a light on the better way…


    • Hey Marilyn, thank you.

      For some people, better ways sound too good to be true. Or they’ve never seen what’s truly possible, and their reality is sub-optimal.

      What I usually find is that people just don’t know any better. They do what they’ve always done, or what the people around them do, and they model that.

      But when they see what’s possible, and they see people model a better way, and actually get better results, then they find a change of heart.

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