Striving to be the best you can be: How to be a peak performer

Who do you look up to in admiration? Who is that person whose accomplishments and sheer steadfast ability to gain ground and maintain progress is an utter inspiration? Who are those people that exemplify the true meaning and spirit of peak performance in your life? Everyday, thousands of individuals overcome obstacles and push past boundaries to develop the fortitude to achieve their loftiest dreams. I have always found inspiration from the many everyday people in my life who possess the personal power to get the results they want and follow their passion in the process. Regardless of whether it’s your next door neighbor, or the best of the best in athletics, music, and business innovation, by examining these individuals attitude, behavior, and ideas, a framework for what it takes to be our best will become illuminated. Through a steadfast and unwavering attitude, along with disciplined and committed preparation, people gain prowess in their discipline, and continue steadily growing to promote success in other peoples lives.

What is a “Peak Performer”? Anyone can be a peak performing. It’s all about setting goals, having a positive attitude, and achieving desired results. This doesn’t happen overnight of course, but through learning how to segment goals into manageable steps, working with visualizations and affirmations, and staying positive and committed, learning to use the full potential our creator gave us becomes possible. Psychologist William James believed people only use about 10% of their potential. Tapping into the other 90% is what separates the doers from the dreamers. In other words, people are capable of much more than they believe, or are willing to strive for. A first step is to start believing in ourselves, and understanding our strengths, talents, values, and interests. From this self-awareness comes the burgeoning of self-trust, and a chance to listen with our heart and dedicate ourselves to leaving a lasting legacy through achieving the greatness we were meant to produce. I’ll emphasize here the importance of developing a personal mission statement, which relates to the concept of developing a vision that we believe in and are committed to achieving. I will examine this in a later post, but for now…. Here are a few qualities of peak performers: – Take responsibility for actions, behaviors, and decisions, – Take risks and move beyond secure comfort zones, – Use critical thinking to solve problems creatively, – Become effective with time-management and self-management, – Continually acquire new skills and competencies, – Remain confident and resilient, – Are motivated to overcome barriers, and, – Take small, consistent steps that lead to long-term goals. The Keys to Reaching your Peak There are four primary components that peak performers maintain. These are: confidence, vision, method, and practice. Confidence is believing in yourself, knowing you’re capable and willing to do what needs to be done, and have what it takes to do well. Confidence is a catalyst to taking action. Self-confidence instills an overall belief that our goals are not in vain, and makes it possible to even begin pursuing the aspiration in the first place. We can begin to cultivate confidence through small accomplishments and successes. As we begin to see success through achieving our goals, we start to realize we can achieve almost anything if we fully commit our mind and spirit to the process. Vision is integral to a successful endeavor because it provides big picture potential. It is the mental rehearsal where we see the success we expect to encounter. We must visualize ourselves in the act or situation we desire to obtain. For those seeking a college degree, visualize yourself crossing the stage and accepting the diploma. For the athletes out there, see yourself crossing the finish line winning the race, or making the three pointer to win the game at the buzzer. Action starts with an idea and mental vision of the final outcome. Listen to your positive internal voice and imagine yourself being successful. Method or goals, is what bridges the gap between the practical and quixotic. We can dream big but need a method and short-term goals to achieve along the way to our larger vision. The method is the layout or strategic framework to the accomplishment of big ideas. This can also relate to the resources needed and how these will be obtained. We can begin producing tangible results by setting measurable milestones to help us monitor our progress along the way. This will also bolster our confidence and reassure us that we are on the right track. Lastly, practice must be a continual mission to strive for in reaching a peak level of performance. The 10 year or 10,000 hour rule applies here. We must dedicate approximately 10 years or 10,000 hours of time practicing and developing our skills in a certain area before we reach expert status.  The incorporation of practice is essential to developing the skills, capabilities, and reproduction of the mental model we have developed. An example of the overall above formula can be viewed by watching the face of an Olympic athlete, and gauging the intense emotional focus and mental affirmation going through their mind.  Their nerves are about to explode, but through mental composure, and confidence through their training, their energy is held latent until the final moment when all energy is geared toward the crucial performance. Staying Committed and Working through Setbacks On the way to cultivating our potential we will run into obstacles and setbacks. Whether on our way to success in college, our career, or life in general, we will encounter situations that make us question and doubt our vision and capabilities, but don’t get discouraged, learn from these mistakes and become a life-long learner. Maintain confidence in your vision and problem solve by keeping a positive attitude, staying persistent, being creative, and asking for feedback. Get advice from those peak performers you look up to and reach out to someone who can coach you on your journey. Growth can’t materialize without expanding our comfort zone and experiencing new and challenging things. By setting goals and reevaluating progress our fears and obstacles become CHALLENGES! Keep growing and gaining self-knowledge and you will be on your way to realizing your potential!