What has worked for you in the past, and currently works for you today, may not be able to take you to the next level of your success or performance.

Recently, I was working with a group of highly successful people who wanted to improve their performance but were having difficulty. I quickly realized that their approach was a big part of the problem. The paradigm they were using was not the best for the goals they wanted to accomplish.

The problem was that they had come to identify with how they were currently doing things. The wrong approach had “worked for them” in the past and brought them “great” success. Even though it had limited them.

The thing is that highly talented people can still make do with a bad system. They can produce above-average results with a bad system. Someone who could be making 100% (A+) on an exam if she were using the right system may become satisfied with making 80% on the wrong system. If the wrong system is all they’ve ever known, they start identifying with it and saying, “that’s my style”. “That’s what works for me.”

They have huge untapped potential, but their method is limiting them. Yet, they don’t know it. When they compare themselves with everybody else around them, they are a star. Yet, they are only scratching the surface of their potential.

Their goal may be to go from 80% to 100% percent. They will keep trying to do so with the wrong method that they’ve gotten used to. The problem is that unless they change methods, they cannot achieve their goals.

If you present them with the right approach, most of them will reject it because at first, it will appear unnatural, difficult, and painful. But that’s the only way that will work.

The orphanage I started once took care of an underprivileged child called Genesis. His legs were so bowed that he couldn’t walk upright. He had figured out an inefficient way to get around. For him to be able to achieve his full walking potential, his legs base to be reconstructed. He was in braces for months and had to undergo rehab. Now he can run and walk well and his speed is much faster. But first, he had to undergo the pain of realigning his legs and the rehab that followed.

Change is hard. But most of the time, that’s how you get to the next level.

My old study habits took me to a level where I barely passed my boards. To take my performance to the next level, I didn’t only have to do the same thing harder, I had to learn a new and better way. I had to change my methods.

Simply working harder using the wrong paradigm or method isn’t going to take you where you want to go.

Take typing, for example. If you’ve learned to type by placing your hands on the keyboard wrongly, you may only go so far. To actually become a fast typer, you must abandon the wrong technique, learn the right one and slowly grow to become fast.

Another example is the sport of tennis. If you are holding the racket poorly, your game would never be as it could. To improve, you must learn to hold the racket properly.

One key to enhancing your performance in anything you do is to remain adaptable. Like Steve Jobs said, remain hungry and foolish. Be willing to modify your paradigm. The way we see the world and the approach we take is what has gotten us where we are right now.  What has worked for us in the past, and currently works for us now, may not be able to take us to the next level of success or performance.