John Foley meets with enthusiastic conference attendees from MECU of Baltimore, Inc., after his presentation.
As performance expert and former Blue Angels pilot John Foley concluded his presentation Monday at the CUNA Lending Council Conference in San Diego, he left attendees with a challenge: Seize the day.
“Seize the opportunity to learn,” Foley said. “There’s so much knowledge in this room."
“Go out and ‘burn the paint’ off your loans,” he added, referring to a memorable test flight where he pushed his plane so hard the paint came off it.
That type of drive toward excellence isn’t accidental. Foley’s experience—as a Navy pilot, a Sloan Fellow at the Stanford Graduate School of Business, and an entrepreneur—has taught him that sustained excellence requires not only a commitment to constant improvement but also a methodology that’s repeatable, transferable, and effective.
Enter the “Diamond Performance Framework.”
This framework has four parts that surround a center point, or common mission:
1. Belief. What are your vision and your mission? “Start with the mind-set before you think about process,” Foley said. “This is where your passion comes from.”
“You need a purpose that’s larger than yourself,” he added. “And as credit union lenders, you have one. Look at the impact you have on peoples’ lives. This is crucial—it’s what sustains you through tough times.”
2. Brief. This is all about focused preparation, Foley said.
“If you can learn to focus your mind, you can direct it in many places and get results,” he said. “Connect the dream to the plan.”
3. Contracts. Building verbal and nonverbal contracts with coworkers builds trust.
“If you focus on trust, execution will follow,” Foley said. “Think about the contracts you have with your coworkers and your members. You have to trust your wingman to get where you want to go.”
4. Debrief. In all efforts, review what worked and what didn’t via open and honest discussions.
Foley considers this the most important element of the four-part framework.
“You need to bake this into the DNA of the organization,” he said. “It fosters accountability: 'When I make a mistake, I’ll fix it.’ This creates a dynamic that allows everything else to galvanize.”
Everyone in the organization should contribute in debriefing, regardless of their role, Foley said, and participants should be wide-open to criticism. “You need to set aside rank [during this process] to get where you need to be.”
Foley also touched on the importance of gratitude, citing research that this quality not only drives happiness but also creativity.
“Gratitude helps both innovation and creativity,” he said. “If you want to innovate, be grateful.”