Pushing through (and pushing up!) with a performance mindset 

12 min read by Bonny Williams 3 Jan 2024

Could you do 100 push-ups a day?

Not a lot of us can say that we’ve collectively achieved 36,000 push-ups alongside our colleagues, and even less of us would believe that we could individually rattle through hundreds of push-ups each week – at least, that’s what I thought at the start of November. 

It’s not uncommon to take part in charity events at work; whether it’s chucking in a few quid at a cake sale, or rocking a jazzy jumper in the name of a good cause, but StrategiQ’s November push-up challenge demanded more from us than your average charitable donation. 

With the goal of completing 100 push-ups each day throughout November, and a promise from our CEO, Andy Smith, to donate £100 to Macmillan Cancer Support for every person who completed the challenge, it’s safe to say we kicked off the month with a shedload of determination (and a touch of apprehension, too). 

With 12 StrategiQ team members committed to the cause, and varying levels of athleticism between us, we were ready to give it our best shot, but under one condition: that we provide video evidence of our push-ups every day.

Thus, the hyperlapses began.

Are you a starter or a finisher? 

They say that some people are natural ‘finishers’ – the ones who are motivated by the gratification of the finished product or the final execution, and are ultimately able to use this to power themselves through the day-to-day routine and the work required to get things done.

Others are natural ‘starters’; they thrive off the buzz of big ideas and creative beginnings, but tend to lose steam or lose sight of the final outcome – usually because they’ve moved on to the next bright idea.

Most of us are both starters and finishers to some degree, though we all tend to lean one way more than the other, even if only slightly. Not long into the push-up challenge, it quickly became clear that there was a real mix of starters and finishers between us – and I wasn’t sure exactly which category I’d be falling into by the end!

The art of staying consistent 

Some of us really struggled in the early stages, and admittedly, there were a few drop-outs not long after getting started. Initially, I didn’t even know whether I’d officially join the challenge until I’d practised and felt confident that I could somewhat manage it. I could only do 10 push-ups in a row to begin with, and I had to drag myself through my daily push-up quota in ten lots of ten. 

Nonetheless, we persisted, and we were doing really well once we got into the swing of it. We found ways to set ourselves interesting mini targets to be able to track our own improvement – whether it was going from push-ups on our knees to full push-ups, or going from only being able to do 10 in a row to ending up being able to do 50. 

But then the setbacks started creeping in. Illness and alcohol (an award-win celebration!) hit the team halfway through the month, and a number of us accrued a deficit. The toughest part – as is often the case – was staying consistent. Facing a deficit on top of 100 push-ups each day was enough to make anyone want to give up, and this is where it was more crucial than ever to tap into the performance mindset that we work so hard to nurture here at StrategiQ. 

The performance mindset in action 

Here’s the thing – working at StrategiQ is different. It’s not just a place of work. It’s a life coach, a transformative force that inspires change from the inside out; rippling outwards into every area of our lives and encouraging us to achieve new things, challenge ourselves, and strive towards greater goals both inside and outside of work. 

That’s not to say it’s easy. The pace is fast, you’ll be pushed, and your expertise will be ever-evolving with the challenges you take on – but you’ll be supported every step of the way. 

The difference with us is knowing that if we’re going to get the most out of everyone, and we want to nurture the ‘performance mindset’ in each member of the team, we’re going to have to support each individual differently. 

For us, this means utilising our Insights and Mojo tools, which we’ve been using for years at StrategiQ, both when onboarding new members and for checking in on the motivation levels of existing members of the team. 

In short, the Insights Discovery process is an evaluation tool which gives us a comprehensive overview of each team member’s unique learning and communication style, as well as their strengths and values. It allows us to tailor our approach to each individual, knowing what suits them best, and knowing where they may need a bit of extra support. 

As well as this, we use an assessment tool called Mojo which helps us to identify our unique motivators and to measure how motivated we are both as individuals and as a workforce. 

By tuning into what personally motivates each individual and where/why their motivation may be lacking, managers and mentors are empowered to best support the members of their team by making tailored adjustments, setting relevant goals and fostering healthy communication around their satisfaction at work.

We don’t expect maximum motivation every day. The only thing we ask is that each member of the team brings the right attitude and a willingness to learn, push themselves, and consistently progress in their careers.

What does this have to do with a push-up challenge, you ask?

The push-up challenge was a real-life example of the performance mindset in action. The people who signed up were all keen to push themselves in some way, and everybody approached the challenge differently. When people got left behind, the team worked together to complete extra push-ups to cover the deficit for others. It’s incredibly hard to get back into it when you lose momentum and the deficit keeps growing, but everybody pushed themselves to perform in their own way and to look out for each other in order to cross the finish line together.         

In my eyes, it was a real testament to StrategiQ’s sense of team spirit, and it represented the way everyone at the agency works together every day. Some people were starters, some people were finishers, some people were goal-focused, some people just focused on the set of push-ups in front of them, but everyone got there in their own way, and everyone took the opportunity to lift others up and offer their support where it was needed. The point is that you need all of these different strengths to make up a functional, cohesive, successful team, which is why a performance mindset will look different for everyone, but will ultimately lead us all to the same place.

Our aim is always to put people in the driving seat of their own progress; equipping them with the skills and training required to move them towards where they want to go. We know that nobody is 100% motivated, 100% of the time – and that’s okay. We invest in the potential of people, and we invest in the training and support to keep them motivated and make them the best at what they do, which ultimately delivers value to our clients in the long run.

In the words of our Chief People Officer, Sarah Smith:

“If we are motivated as a team, we’re more likely to perform as a company and smash the company goals. I’m not afraid to say that this is about performance; it’s about having a successful and profitable company, but at the heart of it, it’s about having a motivated team who know exactly what gets them out of bed every day, and who want to be part of the success.”

By keeping the team motivated, we’re able to enhance both personal and professional performance which ultimately drives innovation and growth across the entirety of the business; inspiring a desire to consistently seek out new opportunities to get better at what we do (watch this space for our AI and sustainability journeys in 2024!). 

A place for everyone 

Referring to someone as a starter or a finisher isn’t a criticism – the truth is that you need variety to make a team work. That’s what keeps us performing well both as an agency and as individuals, as cliche as it may sound! For me, the push-up challenge was a beautiful metaphor for how a team functions – how each individual takes part differently, how to celebrate differences, and how to exercise kindness when others are struggling. 

Very few ensembles would be able to achieve the same level of impact if every single element was the same – a bouquet made with identical blooms, a box of chocolates filled with the same flavour, an orchestra with everybody playing the same instrument – and this also applies to a working team. Everybody brings something different to the table, and everybody’s unique strengths and weaknesses bring balance to the overall fabric of the agency. This is ultimately what we live by here, and what we weave into the way we work.
There’s a place for everyone at StrategiQ, and you don’t have to do hundreds of push-ups each day to fit in here, but you have to want to push yourself. We foster a culture of continuous improvement and wanting to be better, and we provide each team member with the tools they need to master the performance mindset and use this to empower their own unique journeys – wherever they may want to go. 

With 36,000 push-ups behind us, a donation of £1969 sent to Macmillan, and substantially stronger arms than we all had a month ago, we wrap up our team push-up challenge with a renewed appreciation for the value of having a performance mindset – as well as the people we all work alongside.

Ready to find your place in our team?
Check out our careers page and apply today.

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