Sustaining WOW Performance

Autonomous work, coupled with a few key interpersonal skills, create a Pattern for Excellence in your relationships, your work and results. When you sustain WOW Performance, you’ll have more freedom and become indispensable. You will experience fulfillment as you go above and beyond expected norms, both at work and home, by giving first to create WOW Experiences and creating unexpected value. When your performance creates WOW, you move people and change their disposition. You make them want to come back and have another great experience; and when you consistently deliver, people will likely tell all their friends about you.

Compelling examples of word-of-mouth marketing, exemplary leadership and teams working autonomously are: Truett Cathy, founder of Chick-Fil-A, one of the only fast food restaurants in America that closes on Sundays yet still brings in more money per location than McDonalds; Steve Jobs returning to Apple and creating a unique vision and customer experience; and Walt Disney with his supporting cast who create such magic. These visionary leaders produced well-documented success stories. They each had a cause so compelling that many people aligned with their cause and worked together at an autonomous level.

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Working Autonomously to Create WOW

Performing at this level to create WOW Experiences for your clients, co-workers and family requires that you see meaning in your work and that it fulfills you.

If I were to ask you to clean your room and add the restriction, “You can’t go out and play until you do,” you will likely approach this task as an obligation. You’ll likely do the bare minimum. You’ll throw all of your stuff underneath the bed or cram it in dresser drawers. You’ll grab the top cover on your bed and throw it over the crumpled-up sheets underneath. You might sweep dirty socks under the bed or nightstands where others can’t see. Why do we react this way? It is not about the responsibility—it is about getting the job done as quickly as possible so you can move on to something more meaningful, or fun.

The same storyline holds true at work. When you were hired to do your first job, you were likely more concerned about getting paid than about creating WOW experiences by doing exceptional work. For example, shortly after I was married, I laid cement for $12 an hour. I only lasted one month. Why? You couldn’t pay me enough to wake up at four a.m. every morning to push cement back and forth. Moreover, many of my co-workers had addiction problems, been in jail, and used vulgar language. At first, I thought that I could work with them without becoming like them until one day I noticed the words coming out of my mouth. Why? When you subject yourself to any culture for ten hours a day, it begins to rub off on you, especially when you are young. I thought, “Man, no amount of money can motivate me to do this work every day.”

What if the circumstances, culture or purpose of the cement work changed? Imagine my boss sharing that we were hired to lay cement pro bono to form the foundation of a school for kids with special needs. This non-profit organization had to move into a larger building because they had outgrown their space and had nowhere to put all the kids in need. Wouldn’t this change the picture? All of a sudden the motivation changes. Why? Because the purpose of the work changed; it became larger than me. Now it was more important than the money, how hard the work was or how long it took.

Sustaining WOW Performance requires you to excel in five things:

  1. 1)  Create a worthy cause and hire good people who believe in it
  2. 2)  Give them responsibilities or specific roles to play and create value in your cause
  3. 3)  Provide a way to track and report their progress
  4. 4)  Believe that together you can do and create amazing things
  5. 5)  Empower; invite active engagement with clients and fellow team members, and continually reinforce the collective cause to motivate and embolden them in their work.

Ultimately, the Pattern for Excellence puts you and your team in a strong emotional state, coupled with mastery of interpersonal skills where you can collectively do your best work. In this culture of caring, this environment of empowerment, all stakeholders receive as much personal fulfillment, if not more, in the pursuit of the cause than in its attainment. You come to love the process, not just the finished product. You enjoy your work more and do it better. You perform at a much higher level because the work has great meaning.

Autonomous work is about freedom. It is about going above and beyond the call of duty, independently and interdependently. It is about being self-driven in your responsibilities in pursuit of a purpose.

WOW Performance happens when your actions are aligned with your values. The resulting association makes you feel good as you do your work. When guided by principles, you experience an inner drive to perform your best work—not because you are told to, but because the work fulfills you. It makes you happy.

You are motivated to do the work with or without an audience; with or without supervision. You perform at a high level regardless of whether you like the hours or the pay because of the way you feel when you do the work. This shift in thinking comes because you stop seeing the work as menial tasks and begin to see a bigger picture and your part in it. As long as the vision, or cause within that vision, is something you are passionate about, you will see the value in the work and will be motivated to go above and beyond what is expected.


Brigham Dickinson is the Owner and President of Power Selling Pros, a leading customer service coaching and certification company in the home services industry.  For more information, go to

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