The goal of peak performance is to discover your best
Sure, there are times in sport and business when you might well find yourself in competitive situations – and then you probably will be benchmarking yourself against your “opposition”. You will need to be more aware of evaluating your game against theirs and give thought to how to exploit any “weaknesses” they may have.
But in exploring some of the dynamics of peak performance, we will focus in this article more on how to fulfil your own potential.
Your only competition is yourself
So your benchmark and your competition if you like, is with yourself as you strive to get better than you were yesterday. By choosing to place your emphasis on simply being the best you can be, then you will be focusing only on the factors that are within your control.
So what are some of the key ingredients for achieving peak performance – whether it is in sport or business? Here are five peak performance tips ……
- Set goals from your heart and not your head. Peak performance requires motivation – and motivation is based upon striving towards something that has meaning and significance for you. Goals provide you with direction so that your energy can be channelled in a constructive way. Goal setting is about deciding what will be important for you in moving forward. It is where you begin to choose the type of future you want to create for yourself. But just make sure the goals you’re setting for yourself are things you are passionate about ….. You don’t want to wake up one day in a few years time and find that you’re living someone else’s life, having achieved an empty success because you followed a path that others thought you should take. Deciding what you want and being honest about why you want it is more about listening to the heart – and then your head comes into play when you start making your action plans and contingency plans.
- Thorough preparation. Of course there is a price tag attached to achieving peak performance – and a big part of that cost is the time and effort that simply must be allocated towards training and practicing. And yes, this time will be at the expense of other possible pursuits. But it is on the “practice court” that you will see peak performers show their dedication to developing their craft and continually seeking to improve and refine their skills. It is no coincidence that peak performers tend to radiate an aura of confidence and self belief – much of which is borne from the knowledge that they are well prepared for any big event.
- Mental toughness. Hey, life is full of potential distractions. Whether it is other people interrupting you or some type of noise in the background, if you are going to attain peak performance you’ve got to be able to maintain your focus and avoid being side-tracked by this other stuff going on around you. You learn how to maintain the power of your concentration on those things that are most important to you.
- Being a friend to yourself. In other words, avoiding harsh and destructive self-criticism. Think about how you probably provide your friends with plenty of encouragement – even when things aren’t going all that well, you try to help them recognise what’s working rather than dwelling excessively on what is not working. That’s not to say that you delude yourself by pretending that there aren’t areas to improve; rather it’s acknowledging these improvement opportunities but without the negative self-judgements. It’s about being patient with yourself and recognising that it is progress and not perfection that counts.
- Enjoyment. Are you having some fun along the way? If your pursuit of peak performance becomes solely an experience of pain, suffering and sacrifice, then maybe it’s not worth it. The journey is as important as the destination. Life’s too short to be waiting for happiness in the future. If you’re not gaining some sense of enjoyment and pleasure from the inherent experience of improving and progressing, then maybe step back and reflect why you are doing what you are doing. If the goal has lost meaning for you, then maybe it’s time to start heading down a different path. If you adopted the goal more to please someone else, or to gain their approval, then it’s more likely it will all feel like “hard work”. Peak performers often refer to being in a “flow” state, where they become so immersed and absorbed in what they are doing, that time passes quickly. Their is no feeling of “work” when performing in such a state – and it is usually a good sign that the goal has true meaning for a person.
Cultivating healthy routines
If your business is perhaps considering some staff training around this topic, then you might take a look at our seminar “Achieving Peak Performance at Work & in Life – with Nathan Burke”
Some final thoughts on this theme of achieving peak performance, in life or at work. Peak performers are characterised by having established healthy routines for themselves that ensure they consistently meet their basic physical needs of having enough sleep, getting regular exercise and eating a balanced diet. Unless you care for your body and find ways to rejuvenate yourself and refresh your reserves of energy, then sustained peak performance won’t be possible.
But it doesn’t end there – caring for your mental and emotional needs are equally important. So don’t neglect the need to cultivate and nurture healthy relationships with people around you. Being able to confide in others, being connected with people who you feel you can turn to for advice, support and guidance is also essential for peak performance. After all, when you do achieve success – you’ll enjoy it so much more when you have people that you can share it with.
Check out “Achieving Flow & Happiness at Work” – with some great tips on achieving the state of flow that athletes refer to as being “in the zone” where your focus is totally on the current moment, you are so immersed in the task at hand and your performance flows effortlessly
In closing, I hope you take away the message that achieving peak performance means no longer defining yourself by how you compare to others – but instead it is about simply being the best you can be and gaining joy and satisfaction from the process of improving and making progress along the way.
“Becoming your best is about making the hours of each day really count”
About the author
Brian Carroll is the founder of Performance Development.
He is a psychologist by background and has more than 20 years experience working actively in the field of leadership development
His passion is helping people to define and achieve goals that bring deeper levels of happiness and fulfilment to their life.