Achieving peak performance in your career requires a combination of strategy and effort to maximize your potential. Taking the right action achieves measurable results. 30 years of psychological studies of high-achievers across disciplines reveals that peak performers share five traits: getting into the flow, self-awareness, the ability to relax under pressure, coachability, and control over emotions. Achieving peak performance is not about forcing yourself or your team to work harder, it’s about emotional engagement in the work itself. In other words, to start, both you and your employees have to care about what you do and possess high levels of emotional intelligence.
Achieving peak performance is not about forcing yourself or your team to work harder, it’s about emotional engagement in the work itself.
Get into the flow.
In order to be a peak performer, you want to focus on getting into and maintaining your flow. When you’re in flow everything occurs effortlessly. You feel in charge of your work and your goals. It’s a mental framework where you are 100% engaged in the work you do. When you are in flow, work feels great.
Do what you love.
High achievement begins with the obvious- do what you love. You cannot be a peak performer if you are not engaged in your work or challenged enough. Psychological studies reveal that being able to access and maintain peak mental states, as well as developing patterns of excellence that support both vitality and consistent performance, requires complete engagement.
Cultivating peak performance happens through strengthening your ability to concentrate. Being in the present moment and working in a calm, relaxed manner is critical to success. High levels of concentration even if only for short periods of times achieves far more than long periods of work with poor concentration. In other words, the amount of time you put into something does not necessarily determine how great the results will be. What matters is how focused you are when doing the work. Meditation is a great tool to increase your power of concentration.
Setting goals and targets.
Create a list of goals and break it down into tangible actions. Setting goals is about steering the course of your own life to determine your destiny. Goals need to funnel down from the broad ten to five year plans to what can you do today to move toward your vision. After you define your goals, it is time to sit down and figure out the measurable actions you need to take to get there on a daily, weekly and monthly basis. Definable goals establish tangible targets to measure your progress. A coach can be very helpful in setting goals and then providing you with the support to achieve them.
Health and diet.
Food impacts your drive, energy, emotions and ability concentrate probably more than most people want to admit. Eating for optimal health is the most straightforward adjustment your can make to increase your performance. Also, get your body moving. Take at least 30-minutes each day to exercise.
You need to take a vacation; it’s time to reflect and recharge. Wall Street, taking its cue from Silicon Valley, recently mandated that employees stop working straight through weekends and some companies have begun to mandate vacation time. Companies are enforcing these policies because it increases performance. By stepping way, you get a fresh perspective and re-charge your energy, as a result you perform better.
You also have to make time to take care of you, which can range from weekly massages to the weekly basketball game to spending time in nature. You get to define and design the details of taking care of you. It will look different for each person. Just make sure you take the time to do it on a consistent basis.
It’s plain and simple; people who get up early perform better. Research shows that among executives, CEOs and other high achievers in business rise at least three hours before they start work and they don’t spend that time answering emails. The time is spent on self-improvement or reaching a goal. Early morning people are just more productive.
Focus on high value.
Follow the 80-20 rule. Focus the majority of your attention on the high value opportunities. Do the most important work first thing in the beginning of the day and leave the low priority work for later in the day. You want to put the majority of your attention on the areas that can result on break through achievements in your work, abilities and career.
From executives to athletes to creative professionals to artists- Peak performers visualize themselves achieving their goals and succeeding. The mind cannot tell the difference between what is real and what is not real, it reacts to your emotions. Rehearsal recall increases your ability to perform. At night take five minutes and imagine yourself performing well the following day. See yourself succeeding at meetings, working at your highest potential and achieving a break through goal.
In order to improve at anything you have to be teachable and coachable. People who think they know everything don’t go beyond their limitations because they have not identified their blind spots. Being teachable means having enough humility to be able to ask for help. By being teachable you continue to improve and perfect your abilities and skills.
Stress management and the ability to remain calm under pressure are also critical to optimal performance. Maintaining an even keel even when dealing with difficult personalities is also critical to peak performance. When you can effectively manage your emotions, it increases your ability to concentrate and remain in the flow tenfold.
Peak performance is achieved through creating consistent good habits. The research supports that high achievers are the antithesis of people who suffer from burnout. Peak performers maintain equilibrium and momentum over long periods of time as well as a positive outlook under difficult circumstances. It begins with passion followed by attitude and discipline. By mastering the tools and habits that lead to peak performance you keep your career moving FORWARD.
Caroline Stokes is founder of FORWARD Human Capital Solutions. FORWARD does things differently for people in digital organisations who demand inspiring talent solutions for transformative results.