Many of us have an inbuilt desire – a burning even – to perform at our very best. We want to achieve all that can be achieved. We want to leave our mark. While our intentions are honourable, our actions don’t always support our desire. Achieving peak performance takes discipline and commitment and for some of us it is just to easy to give up or worse fail to really start. As we have studied top performing individuals and teams we have come to spot the common themes that seem to be shared by these elite performers. Here are those 6 universal truths about improving your performance:
- Success comes from preparation. Performance takes effort. You have to build a plan and then stick to it. Decide what it is you want to do, and then how you’re going to do it. Failing to prepare will guarantee you don’t achieve your peak performance. Preparation is essential. Top performers are diligent about preparation.
- Pain is your friend. It ain’t gonna be easy! If peak performance were easy to attain then everyone would be performing at his or her best. It takes a brave person to push him or herself out of their comfort zone but your best work lives on the edge or beyond that zone. The pain of making mistakes, failing, learning and experimenting is pain you need to embrace in order to push forward. Top performers understand that without pain there is no gain.
- Intense concentration. Focus is a key quality of productive people. They have an ability to direct their efforts and energy toward a single task. Distractions are your biggest enemy to achieving the performance you want. When you have decided on what you want to achieve you have to zero in on it. Cut everything else. Top performers are singled minded in their approach to success.
- Set milestones. Most people have no problem deciding on a big over arching goal. However, beyond articulating what they want they don’t break down the journey they will need to take. Inevitably they become overwhelmed by the challenge ahead of them and subsequently fail to achieve what they seek. You need to break the journey down into milestones. Being able to track your progress forward and achieve wins along the way to your goal provides the energy and motivation you need to keep going. Top performers celebrate the small wins as they pursue their holy grail.
- Eradicate excuses. Things always go wrong. Most people make excuses when the plan comes off the rails. Instead top performers take responsibility for the setbacks. They own the mistake and see it as a valuable learning opportunity. You need to eradicate the excuses and figure out how to get back on track. Top performers take ownership and hold themselves accountable for all that happens; the good and the bad.
- Be Passionate. In performance passion presents itself as the level of enthusiasm and interest in something (a task, a project, work, life etc). To perform at your best you need to be insanely passionate about whatever it is you are doing. This passion becomes the fuel that keeps you engaged in your mission. Top performers have an infectious love for what they are doing (it’s why they do it!)
There are of course many more truths about how to enhance your performance but you will almost always see each of these 6 truths in those individuals and teams preforming at their peak. If you come up short on any one of these 6 areas the likelihood of your achieving peak performance is slim. The encouraging news – for all of us – is that we have it in our control to choose to perform better. If we make the commitment to ourselves then there’s nothing we can’t eventually achieve.