The Principles of Personal Excellence. 12 Dimensions and 21 Questions Introduction

23 Mar

The Principles of Personal Excellence:

The 12 Dimensions and the 21 Questions that get at the Heart of Focus and Effectiveness


The most splendid achievement of all is the constant striving to surpass yourself and to be worthy of your own approval

-- Dr. Dennis Waitley

Last week in the introduction I sought to identify the difference between Technical Knowledge (Tk) vs. Flow Knowledge (Fk). Technical knowledge represents “what” you know in your professional or personal arenas (i.e. business, athletics, medicine, law, school, hobbies, at home or with friends, etc…) while flow knowledge represents the factors that impact your performance (i.e. motivation, vision, goals, prioritization, attitude, focus, perspective, etc…).

Technical Knowledge:        Tk = X1+ X2 +X3 +X4+X5…

Flow Knowledge:               Fk = X1+ X2 +X3 +X4+X5…

To be a high performer you must look at both equations. Being knowledgeable or skilled is necessary but not sufficient to be at the top of your game and demonstrate your “X-Factor”

When I work with corporate clients and university students I prompt them with the following thought on focus:

“The quality of an individual, team, and organizational performance is directly related to ‘where’ and ‘when’ we place our  attention—and the ‘duration’ of our attention.”

After 25 years of research, teaching, and practice, I have sought to make sense of the world of leadership development—especially personal leadership development. With so much to read (hundreds of new books coming out monthly) it’s difficult for many to sift through all of the “muck” and make sense of what to work on now. Solving this issue was the purpose of Finding Your Flow book (click here for the first chapter free) and the workshop by the same name (click here for more information).

What I discovered through the years is that most of the books, articles, and workshops can be sorted into 12 main, but interconnected dimensions. These 12 dimensions, however, house several sub-topics that provide further insight into the nature of flow and peak performance.

As I craft these weekly newsletters I thought it might be helpful to give you a brief overview of the 12 dimensions before diving into the 60 topics that will comprise this series. Let’s begin with a few targeted questions—each of which reveals the value in each of the dimensions:

flow quadrants.png

In the middle of this model is where we “find our flow” or step into the “zone”. This is where, from a personal leadership standpoint, you are focused (F), in the moment, completely present, fully engaged.

So what keeps us from being in the moment or in flow all the time? The answer: interference linked to gaps in skill, practice, and proficiency. Such is our quest—to help you find your flow, and discover the peak performer within you.

To give you a general overview of this newsletter series, consider these 21 core questions and see how they land on you. Answering these upfront questions will give you a preview of the kinds of topics of focus over the next 60 weeks.

As you review these questions, notice where you are skilled and trained. Notice where you are lacking. Not every question will be a hot button for you and that’s a good thing. But several may. If some of these questions confront your current level of knowledge, skills, and abilities, then the next 60 weeks may be of value to you.

Let’s review these questions as they related to the 12-dimension model above. Here we go:

From the perspective of your Long-Past (LP)

  1. Do you understand, accept, and learn the valuable lessons of your past?
  2. Are you drawing from your past experiences to maximize your self-image & confidence?

From the perspective of your Short-Past (SP)

  1. Are you actively seeking meaningful feedback from your experiences?
  2. Are you constantly learning from each experience to improve your performance?

From the perspective of your Long-Future (LF)

  1. Are your missions and vision for the future clear and meaningful?
  2. Can you see the legacy you would like to leave behind?

From the perspective of your Short-Future (SF)

  1. Are your goals set for this hour, day, week and year?
  2. Do you have a measurement process in place?

Looking at your current Environment from a Broad perspective (EB)

  1. Are you striving to understand the “big picture” environment you are surrounded by?
  2. Do you understand the macro factors (both positive and negative) influencing your performance?

Looking at your current Environment from a more Narrow perspective (EN)

  1. Is your immediate physical environment inhibiting you in any way?
  2. Is there anything you can change to optimize your environment?

Looking at the 5 dimensions (physical, emotional, psychological, philosophical, spiritual) that make up you personally:

  1. Are you living your deepest values that serve higher-than-self goals?
  2. Is your personal “Philosophy of Engagement” driving your daily focus?
  3. Are you “mentally tough” and “positively focused”?
  4. Are you emotionally resilient and in control of your feelings?
  5. Are all of your physical systems in check (nutrition, exercise, rest & recovery)?

More general considerations include:

  1. Do you have an ongoing plan to grow your flow assets?
  2. Do you have an ongoing plan to decrease your flow liabilities?
  3. Are you fully engaged in your “moments of performance”?
  4. Do you regularly find your flow?

From a personal leadership perspective, this is a lot of ground to cover. These 21 questions embedded in the 12 dimensions help provide a framework for how to think about what aids you and what inhibits you from being fully engaged in the moment with your “A” game present.

If my work with clients has revealed anything it is that we all have our own unique formula for success. These 21 questions are just scratching the surface. Below these are more subtle principles and practices that add to the mix. Your goal is discovering which ones are most important to you at any given time, then deciding where to place your time, attention and resources in order to move the needle in that area.

This Finding Your Flow newsletter will touch briefly on each of the 60 core questions within the Finding Your Flow book and provide not only insights, but also resources you can tap into for further development. As always, if you have personal questions, feel free to send me a note and I’ll do my best to answer them.

For the next few days, ponder these questions and begin raising your awareness of the factors that contribute to and inhibit your current performance. The awareness itself is half the battle!

Exercise & Tool:

  • Use the Finding Your Flow 12 Dimensions Tool above
  • If you would like to take the Finding Your Flow survey click here

Daily Practice:

  • Review the 21 questions each week and take a mental note of your current strengths and weaknesses



Finding Your Flow: How to Identify Your Flow Assets and Liabilities—The Keys to Peak Performance Every Day


Peru Leadership Adventure 2013 (June 1-11)

For those wishing to develop their Philosophy of Engagement in the high Andes in Peru this summer, there are still spaces left. Adventure dates (June 1-11). If you wish to review the program and itinerary, click here

A Call to Adventure

If you would like to participate in one of our 3-day Call to Adventure training programs in Colorado, click here for more details.


If you are interested in the complete Principles of Personal Excellence program (26 hours of video content and exercises) click here for more details.

See you next week…