Our Relationship to Breakdowns and Breakthrough Performance

Why do we hate to reveal problems, ask for help, and let people know we may be off course with our promises or deliverables? Why do we resist searching for potential obstacles and barriers that could arise? Read on to uncover how Breakdowns can lead to Breakthrough Performance.

As Breakthrough Performers we don’t like to reveal our failures or our inability to produce desired results. We resist this because it’s somehow connected to our not wanting to get in trouble or disappoint others. At a basic level, human beings want to make a difference. There is a real need to show our value, to produce value for others, and to be breakthrough performers. We don’t do well with admitting our ideas didn’t pan out, or come to fruition. Then we focus all our attention on fixing or solving or covering up the problem.

Breakdowns are inevitable.

Despite our best-laid plans, things just happen that we either couldn’t predict, couldn’t avoid, or didn’t see coming. We call these breakdowns, barriers, roadblocks, problems–they just shouldn’t happen, right?

Rain is Rain – or is it?

Take rain, for example. I was leading a work session in the South, and planning to fly home afterwards. It began raining–torrential downpour–after a lengthy dry spell. I received text messages and voice mails from the airline, delaying my flight later and later. I noticed that Cheryl (a participant in my session) was happy that it was raining. Here’s what we discovered in the ensuing discussion…

Cheryl had planted a garden full of vegetables, to feed her family organic, home grown veggies. The rain was a blessing in light of her commitment to providing abundant, healthy food.

After being on the road for four days, I was anxious to get home to spend the night with my family before my next business trip. I could have re-routed my travel, spent another night in my favorite hotel, and enjoyed the detour, except my commitment was to be with my family.


Commitment: a willingness to give your time and energy to something that you believe in, or a promise or firm decision to do something.

                 – Cambridge Dictionary

The common denominator was that we each had a commitment. For Cheryl, the rain was not a problem. It actually supported her commitment. For me, it represented a threat to my commitment. Rain is just rain. In and of itself, it’s not a breakdown or a problem or a gift.

Breakthrough Performers never lose sight of their commitments as access to Breakthrough Performance. Here are two easy steps:

  • By identifying the commitment underneath the breakdown, we could creatively and clearly focus on our end goal.
  • As breakthrough performers, we hunt for potential breakdowns and use them as opportunities to create alternate plans to meet our objectives.

In this way, commitment acts as a guiding star, a focal point for us to aim our energy and attention towards, rat

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