‘Continuous improvement is better than delayed perfection‘ – Mark Twain
As a Peak Performance coach my purpose is to make others successful, fulfilled and happy
The universal Principles of Peak Performance applies to Entrepreneurs, career orientated individuals, business teams, sports teams and individual performers such as public speakers and musicians.
Do you want to learn how to multiply your performance as an entrepreneur, career orientated individual, musician, public speaker, or sportsperson and reach the peak of your industry or sport? If you answered yes to the aforementioned question, then this article is meant for you.
The outputs of ‘Peak Performance’ coaching varies due to its universal application but includes multiplying profits and productivity, drastically increase team performance in business or in sport , and dramatically improve your performance as an artist, musician, or individual sports person.
A Peak Performance is described by psychologydictionary.org as:
“A performance at the best level of a person’s physical and cognitive abilities’
- Which leads me to the ancient Chinese philosophical concept of ‘wu-wei’ meaning ‘effortless-effort’. It is truly awe inspiring to bare witness to an entrepreneur or athlete delivering a supreme performance with joy emanating from their being as proof of them being in a ‘peak mental state’.
‘Peak performance is not only about achieving a wonderful result it is also about experiencing the joy bubbling from your heart as you let go of all your fears , doubts and procrastination and just enjoy the moment as a soulful experience’.
Those entrepreneurs or performers that have not released the peer pressure, doubts and fears that circumvent their thinking and feelings place limitations on the fulfilment , happiness and joy that they could have experienced should they have let go of all ‘mental baggage’ that they carry. One of the keys to unlock your potential is to leave your past baggage behind as you go through the door of positive change and development.
This article will highlight three prominent barriers to your ultimate ‘Peak Performance’ yet will reveal three key principles that when consistently applied will empower you towards unleashing your potential and become a ‘Peak Performer’ in any area of your life.
1. Barrier to Peak Performance: Limiting beliefs
When you entertain such limiting beliefs as ‘I am not worthy’, ‘I do not possess the resources to succeed’, ‘I am not intelligent enough’, it will limit your performance within any area of your life within which you entertain those beliefs.
Some top sport performers believe that only the seriously talented can be at the top and that talent means you do not have to work hard. For sure it is possible to reach the top based on superior talent alone but you will not be a sustainable success. Those with the potent combination of talent, mental strength and the willing ness to work hard will eventually catch up and dramatically outperform those with the limiting belief that my talent alone is enough.
2. Barrier to Peak Performance: Procrastination
If you are a serial procrastinator as an entrepreneur by the time you have actually executed a decision the ‘Peak Performer’ has already executed, failed and corrected his/her mistakes several times and is outperforming you.
3. Barrier to Peak Performance: Perfectionism
“Continuous improvement is better than delayed perfection” – Mark Twain
Perfectionists often suffer from a fixed mind-set which is revealed thoroughly when the face glaring imperfections. This fixed mind-set dictates that perfectionists will rather walk away from the situation than aim to continuously improve which is a key driver to Peak performance. It is perfectly ok to fail as long as you apply the learnings of the failure and grow.
Be open to the fact that more often than not you are going to face imperfect conditions and timing in business, bad weather and facility conditions in sport, and ups and downs in any career. The discipline and willingness to continuously work hard even for small improvements removes the focus on perfectionism to learning and growing continuously.
The above three barriers to ‘Peak Performance’ are very prominent ones but not the only ones that you will have to break through on your journey towards being a ‘Peak Performer’.
When you google who was the mentor of Nelson Mandela Oliver Tambo’s’ name will pop up. Tony Robbins had a mentor. Ray Dalio has been coached by Tony Robbins in return. And that brings the good news – you can be coached or mentored to break through the barriers that limits your performance.
Related: The Anatomy Of Peak Performance
The key questions here are:
“Are you coachable?” and “Do you want success and happiness badly enough?”
1. Empowering belief towards Peak Performance: Purpose
Clarity of purpose is a key driver towards ‘Peak Performance’. Purpose is ‘your why’, that very good reason why you do what you do. Two entrepreneurs of equal intelligence, resources, talent and skill start a venture within the same industry, whom will outperform the other?
The one does not really love the industry and is not truly inspired by what he is doing, the other has a real sense of Purpose and truly loves the industry. Logic dictates that the one with the real sense of purpose will more easily overcome obstacles and will truly be inspired towards Peak Performance.
The fine print to Purpose is that Purpose is a powerful belief but yet is just a belief. Underpinning purpose you must consistently do what is required to actualise your purpose and do so with patience and discipline.
2. Empowering belief towards Peak Performance: Peak mental state
We all know from personal experience that when you are de-motivated and negative thoughts dominate your mind that a very good performance is unlikely to result from that state.
You can train yourself or be trained to almost always be in a peak mental state where you are anchored in positive beliefs and in strong positive emotions about those beliefs. From this state a Peak performance is much more likely.
3. Empowering belief: Take immediate, consistent and disciplined action
When we feel overwhelmed we either do nothing or very little in general. We also tend to procrastinate when we are unsure of the course of action we should be taking or when we doubt our abilities. When we know exactly what our purpose is we do know what our priorities are and once we are sure of our priorities when know how to allocate the right amount of time to our activities that serves our purpose.
We all feel overwhelmed and or fearful at some point. The key here is to still take action in the face of being overwhelmed and fearful. When overwhelmed and fearful a critical question to ask yourself is: What is the smallest and easiest thing I can do right now to start improving the situation? Once you have taken action it creates momentum and it gives you confidence to take the next action required.
Use your fears and doubts as triggers to take action. Small actions at first to train yourself and to give you more confidence to gradually take bolder steps. The Navy seals in general are not fearless human beings they were just trained to use their fears as ‘triggers’ to take action and this is possible for everyone.
Here is an empowering belief for you:
Anyone can be a ‘Peak Performer’ and that includes you!
Fear As Foe And Friend: How To Master This Important Relationship
Our beliefs direct our behaviour and decision making. To conquer you fears, face them.
There is a story that I love. It goes something like this: A long time ago a man was sitting in a bar in Damascus having a beer. As he finished his last sip he looked over to the corner and staring back at him was Death. The man froze. It was widely known that the day you see death is the day you die.
A few seconds later the man regained composure and ran out of the bar. Without looking back he jumped on a horse and rode as quickly and as far away as he could. Later that day he arrived in a town called Samarra.
The man checked into a motel, rushed up to his room, locked the door, and as he turned around, sitting in the corner was Death. Noting the man’s surprise, Death said to him, “You think that you’re surprised? Just imagine how surprised I was this morning when I saw you in the bar in Damascus knowing that I had an appointment with you here, tonight, in Samarra.”
This is a story about the inevitability of death. No matter how hard we try, it’s the fate that we cannot escape. However, that’s not the focus of this article.
Facing your fears
Instead, consider the way the man reacted to death. More specifically, how he reacted to fear. That’s something I’m sure you can relate to.
The life of an entrepreneur is filled with fear. The fear of failure, the fear of losing it all, the fear of judgement, the fear of rejection, the list goes on. We can never eliminate these fears. Trust me, I’ve worked with the best and they still struggle with many of these fears. The thing about entrepreneurs at the top of their game is that they are better at dealing with fear.
Imagine if instead of running away, the man in our story decided to embrace his fear. Imagine he calmly (while shaking inside) walked over to death and asked him why he was staring at him. Death might have told him about their inevitable appointment. The man could have left the bar to get his affairs in order. He could have had a final meal with family and friends. He could have gone for a last swim in the ocean. And then, when the time was right, met death as an old friend.
Does that not sound like a much better approach than to run away and hide? But how you can embrace fear? The answer to that is simple but by no means easy. Dealing with fear is all about the context and meaning we assign to it.
When you’re working in your office, how scared are you of being bitten by a shark? Fear is very much dependent on the context. In many instances we have (some) control over context.
So, how can you control your context or environment? What can you do to actively decrease the fear becoming manifested? Fear of public speaking? Control the context by preparing well, getting coaching, dressing well, being ready. Fear of rejection? Control the context by understanding your prospect well, being prepared, showing up early so that you aren’t rushed, being friendly and welcoming.
This is always one of my favourite areas to play in as coach. It has to do with the meaning we assign to situations in our lives. More simply put, the beliefs that we have and how they direct our behaviour and decision-making.
Back to our shark example, and this time you find yourself in the ocean. How worried are you now about a shark attack? Much more. However, next to you is a shark expert frolicking around. Happy as can be. How worried is he about the shark attack? Not at all. Why? Because he understands shark behaviour, he knows the statistics and miniscule chances of a shark attack occurring. Same context, different beliefs, resulting in different levels of fear.
This means that another way of dealing with fear is to examine the belief you have that creates the fear. Perhaps it’s an outdated or untested belief. The only way you will know is by looking at it.
Through the fear
Fear is a dark passenger. Ready to tell you stories of doom and gloom. Ready to make you forget about the big dreams that you have. But it does not have to be. You journey. Your rules.
Learn to master your feelings and the approach that you take towards the challenges and risks in your life, and you will not only feel lighter, but able to embrace fear as an old friend without becoming consumed by it.
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If I told you a group of meditators could stop a war, eradicate violence, reduce infant mortality and increase primary school attendance rates – would you believe me?
This exact scenario happened in our neighbouring country Mozambique. In 1992, the civil war that lasted 15 years came to an end. Joachim Chissano the leader of the winning forces took control of the country, instead of enacting revenge on the rebel forces, he promised there would be no prosecution or punishment.
He even went so far as to offer them half of the positions in the Mozambican army, and he gave them a chance to gain power through political means. Two years later, Mozambique’s had her first ever multiparty election, Chissano and the former rebel leader were up against each other in the polls.
After winning, he focused on reducing poverty to establish lasting peace. Between 1997 and 2003, 3 million people, out of a population of 20 million, were rescued from extreme poverty. This led to a 35% decrease in infant mortality and a 65% increase in the number of children attending primary school.
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When Arnold Schwarzenegger began his career, he studied bodybuilding icons — not to emulate them, but to surpass them. His strategy was always to top the best.
From the roaring mosh pits of an Iron Maiden concert to the welcoming ambience of Nigella Lawson’s kitchen; from the secretive rainforests of a David Attenborough nature documentary to the sweat-soaked gyms of Schwarzenegger’s legendary workouts — every industry has its top name icons. What do they all have in common? What makes them rise to the top? And most importantly for entrepreneurs, what can we learn from them?
I’ve spent a decade trying to discern and decode what distinguishes the leading names in any field, and whether their approaches can be emulated. Here’s the secret I’ve discovered: We tend to think of experts in terms of superior knowledge or academic skills, but that actually misses something. There’s more to it. You can be highly qualified and yet completely unknown. Instead, to be truly iconic, you need to combine three non-negotiable qualities: Knowledge, personality and publicity.
You have to know it, you have to show it and you have to be it. You need to build an identity or ideal that tribes of followers want to emulate.
The following is an excerpt from What Makes Them Great? 50 Ways to Become an Industry Leader that focuses on four ways you too can become an industry leader.
1. Benchmarking globally, not locally
In his early twenties, Arnold Schwarzenegger made an interesting decision. Upon deciding that his life’s course lay in pursuing bodybuilding, he moved from Austria to California, to study the world’s top athletes in their own backyard. But he went with a philosophy that was quite remarkable. More than just wanting to study what the top practitioners did in order to emulate them, his stated goal was to study what the top practitioners did, in order to surpass them.
When last did you observe the best in the world, then think: “I could top that”?
Here’s why this dynamic matters: Today, your potential customers aren’t just benchmarking you against your exact equivalent locally. In reality, they are even benchmarking you against completely different industries and practitioners.
In the same way that a restaurant does not just compete with other restaurants — it also competes against the lateral options of movies, concerts or home pizza delivery — you are not just viewed against the backdrop of others who do exactly the same thing. You are viewed against the backdrop of an increasingly globalised market, by people who travel all around the world.
Your target market may be ‘just’ a mom with a simple problem to fix. But that mom has also been to London, New York and Sydney, and her perception of your levels of professionalism, as you operate in her home town, are not relative to others in your home town.
Moreover, the local mom evaluating your professionalism has Googled videos about how to solve this problem, and watched entrepreneurs from California talking about sleek and clever solutions. If she’s gone to the trouble as an outsider to your field, you certainly should have done the same and more as a practitioner. And that is her rightful expectation of you.
2. “Good enough” for the locals, and other myths
Fairly late into its lifespan, the Eiffel Tower acquired a glass floor. You can now go halfway up the Parisian landmark and scare yourself rigid by stepping onto a transparent walkway and looking straight down. It’s a great addition to one of the world’s most popular tourist destinations… that took about 15 years too long to implement.
Many years prior to its implementation, my wife and I went up the CN Tower in Toronto. Somewhere up near the Canadian clouds, its bulbous dome has a similar walkway, which has been there for decades. I remember watching my wife, who is no friend of heights at the best of times, crawling out onto the glass and smiling gingerly for a photo, then retreating to the safety of concrete as though she were on fire. Other places, like a tourist spot at the Grand Canyon, have since copied this notion too.
Why did it take one of the world’s leading tourist destinations — the Eiffel Tower in France — so incredibly long to do something so seemingly obvious?
The answer is: Because the custodians didn’t think of themselves as part of a global network of international travel. They thought of themselves as ‘custodians of the Eiffel Tower.’ Subtle shift; huge difference.
Do you still view yourself as a local operator? Increasingly, this view is becoming self-deluding. Many of your potential fans, tribes, clients and customers are now extremely well travelled, and may be comparing you to a much better version in Tokyo or Tel Aviv.
3. Contexualising yourself upward
‘Imagine the government passes a law,’ a fellow speaker said to me one year, at the Professional Speakers Association convention, ‘And you are no longer allowed to charge your current fee. You have to double it. Non-negotiable. What would you do differently? And which clients would you target instead of the ones you currently deal with?’
I took the question seriously. And it’s a good one. What would you do if forced to take your business up, not just a notch, but a couple of tiers, in one fell swoop? Grapple with the answers to this question (and there are answers to them, in every industry) and you are actively engaging yourself with the problem of how to position yourself as one of the premium players in your game.
If forced to face that test, what would you do? It is a good idea to keep graduating yourself upward; to compel constant growth by design. In your quest to become truly iconic, do not benchmark yourself against the immediately available, local talent. Contextualise yourself upward, and think about your own performance relative to the global best.
This may entail a few practical things:
- You may have to stop doing the low-level and/or free stuff. Being valuable, and being seen as valuable, is everything here. But you have to go first. The market doesn’t just assume you are.
- You must find ways to actively display your new, greatly increased value.
- You may have to cull the cues that disqualify you as premium, such as low pricing, amateur visual cues in your marketing, etc.
4. Pricing yourself correctly
By the time the sitcom came to an end, after 11 Emmy-award devouring seasons, Frasier had established itself as one of the most popular and successful comedy shows in television history. Toward the end, each of the main actors was earning in excess of a million US dollars per episode. The show’s success was a fabulous argument against the notion that one should simplify everything and ‘pander to the masses,’ given that the two lead characters, psychiatrist Dr Frasier Crane and his brother, Dr Niles Crane, were highly intellectual, unapologetically snobby, sophisticated patrician elites, who pontificated in sentences one might typically hear at a medical convention. Or Mensa.
In an episode of season ten, Frasier and Niles are seated at Nervosa, their favourite Seattle coffee shop, along with Niles’ wife, Daphne. Daphne is pregnant. Egged on by another couple, Daphne and Niles are trying to find ways to ‘heighten’ the experience of childbirth. The whole thing becomes competitive, and they end up hiring a doula to guide them through the event — more to impress their friends than anything else.
Frasier, meanwhile, has been suffering through a dating dry-spell. He has hired a professional matchmaker and is about to meet up with her. Donning his jacket and excusing himself from the coffee table, Frasier says, “I’ve signed up with a matchmaking service.”
“Frasier, a matchmaker?” Niles responds, aghast. “I’m surprised you’d use a professional for something as personal as your love life.”
“Well, I could say the same thing about you and your doula,” says Frasier.
“Well, our professional comes highly recommended,” says Niles.
“So does my professional,” says Frasier.
“Well, our professional is at the top of her field,” Niles counters.
“As is mine.”
“Well, our professional charges two hundred dollars an hour.”
“Mine charges ten thousand!”
Niles gasps. “She sounds fan-tastic! Congratulations, Frasier!”
“Thank you, Niles…”
The dialogue concludes with Daphne rolling her eyes. The scene was obviously created for comedic effect, but there’s an undeniable grain of truth in this overblown observation. We do perceive quality according to price. It’s a natural human bias that you will read about often in books on behavioural economics, and which you will see reflected in the purchase price of your next luxury car.
If you are too cheap, you will be perceived as amateur. Here is another example, from author Robert Cialdini. A lady owns a jewellery store in a coastal town, and she’s struggling to sell a particular range of jade jewellery. So begins the true story in Cialdini’s book Influence. Before going on leave, the owner instructs her sales person to halve the prices. The sales person misreads her note and doubles the price. The entire range sells out before the owner returns.
Behavioural economics are fascinating. In this particular case, the items sold more effectively because they were more expensive. The reverse dynamic applies too. Set the bar too low, and you will raise innate suspicion from high-level buyers (Hmm… No, thanks. You’re too cheap. Sounds risky).
Mindset tip: Where it matters, be a surgeon
Going about their daily work, doctors are required to make use of competing skill-sets. They have to be dispassionate enough to be able to do necessary, hurtful things to their patients; injections into delicate parts of the body, cutting open skin and billing them right in the soft spot.
But they must also show compassion. Doctors are typically sued more often when their bedside manner is lacking, even for the same results as their more compassionate contemporaries.
An ideal doctor, if such a thing exists, is able to be compassionate when it counts, but dispassionate when it is necessary.
I’d like you to remember this concept the next time you struggle with stating your price: Be a surgeon.
The pricing is not an emotional aspect of the thing you do. This is merely ‘part of the procedure.’ Just do it, and do it dispassionately.
You don’t have to ‘believe in it,’ or ‘feel anguish about it,’ or in any way emotionalise the scenario. That’s for amateurs. This is the part you do clinically, simply as a step in the procedure.
If they can’t afford your fee, that’s fine. Nobody is going to shout at you or place you in stockades in the town square for a dose of public humiliation. If they can’t afford you, they are not your customer, and that’s all there is to it. If they can, they are. You can then continue on together to the next part of the professional relationship, at which point you will display empathy for their needs.
Pricing is not emotional. It’s procedural. Get it done. Like a surgeon.
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