By Leo Gura - February 12, 2014 | 3 Comments
How to build and maintain a consistently high level of performance.
Hey, this is Leo for Actualized.org and in this quick self help segment I am going to talk about peak performance. What is peak performance and how do you achieve it? For me, I love peak performance because I love that feeling of when you’re out there and you’re just excelling and killing it.
Whether you’re running a marathon and you’re killing it there, or you’re at the gym and you’re killing it there, or at work you’re giving an awesome presentation, or you’re writing a novel and you’re having an awesome day and you write an awesome chapter, or whatever else it is for you. Just being at the peak of your potential and being at the peak of that zone where you know that you have so much potential, but you also know that you’re stepping up to it and you’re actually realizing it. That feeling of realizing your potential, to me that is one of the greatest feelings in the world.
One of the reasons that I started Actualized.org was because I was interested in finding out what is the psychology behind getting that more consistently. I find the biggest challenge with performance is it’s hard to stay at a peak performance all the time. In fact, that’s why they call it ‘peak’ performance. Your performance is down here and then it peaks and then it drops back down. It creates a spike and then you’re back down to this low baseline.
Well, the question that I have, and the question that you should have, is how do we get that peak and sustain that peak so it turns into a plateau? So that you’re getting high performance consistently? This is something that I love to study. I think that there are a lot of different angles and different facets to this problem.
Have A Vision
So I’m just going to scratch the surface in this video. I’ve got a lot more ideas on this on Actualized.org. I would say the biggest, most number one reason, factor, I should say rather, for your performance is to have a compelling vision. You have to have something that you’re fighting for. You have to have something that is a cause of yours. Something that is important enough for you. Something that is significant enough to you. You have to be totally bought into it. It has to be compelling. That’s why having a big lofty goal or a dream or a vision is just critical.
You’re not going to have that kind of peak performance unless you see that and you see something out there that excites you on an emotional level not just a logical level. This is why, for example, you can have an Olympic athlete who’s out there training for literally five, six, eight hours a day, for years they’re doing this. Why would they do this?
They’re killing themselves. They’re body is put under so much strain, this pressure, there’s pain. But they’re going through all of that and they’re performing at their peak. And then they get to the Olympics, let’s say, and they’re going in there, going through all the different qualifying matches, and races, and finally it’s like that last race. And that last race, that gold medal race, that potential to win gold, bronze, silver medal, that’s what they’ve been dreaming of since they were small children. That was drilled into their minds.
They’ve been dreaming about it literally when they’ve slept, they’ve been day dreaming about it when they’ve ate, they’ve been thinking about it and visualizing it while they while they trained, and they’ve been doing this for years. So for them, this is it, this is what they want. This is what they’ve been fighting for.
Something within them, some sort of value, is being honored by that. Maybe it’s excellence. Maybe it’s that they want to do it for their country. Or they want to do it for their family. Or they want to show their friends that anything is possible. Something noble like that, creates the vision that then gives them the energy and the drive and the discipline that they need to go out there and accomplish something big.
When they’re doing that, they’re performing on their edge and they’re getting peak performance. So that’s what I want for you. If you think that only Olympic athletes can get this, then you’re dead wrong. Everyone can get this. It’s just a matter of sitting down and doing some of the inner work that has to happen to get to that point.
Now don’t get me wrong, peak performance is not something you get casually. Peak performance is something you have to get, you have to want it and really understand why you want it. You have to have some compelling reasons. What I would say right now, is that if you want more peak performance than you need a better vision.
Make it more compelling. Make it more vivid. Actually visualize on it. Come back to it every day. Journal about it, write on it, expand on it, make it even grander than it already is. That’s going to get you juiced up and ready to perform.
Alright this next point, and this concept is really big, that I’m going to introduce is momentum. There’s two forms of momentum. There’s micro momentum and macro momentum. I’m going to talk about both of them. But, if you want to be at your peak, you have to realize that you have to build your way up to it.
You don’t just go from never going to the gym in your life to all of a sudden you go to the gym the next day and get peak performance. Nor do you all of a sudden, let’s say, you’re at work and you’re kind of humming along at work and all of a sudden you want peak performance at work you just get, the next day, peak performance. It’s not going to happen that way.
In fact, if you try to force it that way you’re going to get a backlash. It’s going to backfire on you, and actually your performance will probably diminish. You’re going to get put back in your place but you’re going to feel a lack of confidence and feel like a failure. So, instead what you do is baby step your way up by ever increasing small steps and challenging yourself more and more. This means you have to have a little bit of patience.
Allow yourself to build up to it. Let’s talk about that Olympic athlete example again. Did that Olympic athlete all of a sudden get to that performance in one day? No. Did they do it in a week? No. Did they do it in a month? No. Did they do it in a year? No, probably not even in a year. It probably took them many years to get to that level.
When you see them on television it seems like they’re just performing on the spot. In that hour of the race or that minute of the race they’re performing so well, but they’ve been training up for it. They’ve built up to that level. So they’re in that zone, they’re in that mindset because they’ve been training for it and they’ve created that momentum. That’s what I want you to do.
I want you to create momentum. Whether at the gym or at work or wherever you want to have peak performance, start to ratchet it up.
For example, at the gym put a little extra weight on every time you go. Put a little bit more weight on, a little more weight, and push yourself a little more and a little more. All of a sudden, you’re going to find that in six months from now you’ll find you’re at a totally different performance level than you are today. Because you’ve just been baby stepping it up, you’ve been building momentum.
What you find is, as you build momentum it becomes easier to do that stuff. Your motivation can well up and well up to the point where, maybe right now you aren’t excited about going to the gym at all, but six months from now you can get yourself so pumped up about doing a super heavy set on squats or dead lift or whatever exercise you’re doing, just because you’ve been building it up and building it up.
You’ve been building up not just your muscles but your habits and your brain but you’ve also built up the motivation for it too. That is really important. That is what I call macro momentum. There’s also micro momentum, which is building up small scale throughout your day. So, macro momentum takes place over many days, weeks, and months.
Building Micro Momentum
Micro momentum within the course of, let’s say, a day or even within the course of part of a day. So micro momentum, I might mean when you go to the gym on that first specific day you could build up micro momentum by doing a very easy, relaxing treadmill walk. Just to get your blood flowing and your muscles going and your brain starts to get engaged to want to do exercise.
Then you walk say fifteen minutes, then you go out and do some light stretching. Then you go out and do some moderately heavy lifts. Then you do that and get yourself really pumped up to do some heavier lifts at the end of that session. So what you’ve done there is you’ve baby stepped your way through that one exercise session up to something really powerful, a really powerful peak performance and a very heavy lift. But you did that by building up.
You don’t just go in there and all of a sudden break out a really heavy lift right off the bat. Not only could that hurt you physically and cause all sorts of problems, muscle strain and injuries, but also your brain is not going to be geared for that. So you’ve got to build yourself up. And the same can happen not only when you’re at the gym but when you’re at work too.
Let’s say you’re starting your work day, and you’re trying to write something and you’ve got a whole day of writing to do. Well, you don’t really want to write at the beginning of the day. You want to get to that peak performance of writing when you’re totally in the flow, and you’re killing it on the paper, and everything is just coming out so smooth and the language is perfect, everything is just clicking for you.
But to get to that point you’ve got to build up to it. That means building micro momentum throughout the day. So that means, maybe the first thing you might do is check your email. That just kind of gets you into the work mode. Then the next thing you do, you check your email a little bit, then you go and check your notes and you do that for half an hour. Then you read your notes, and now you go and you take a look at what you’ve written the previous day.
You familiarize yourself with that so your mind is in that frame. Then you say, “Aright, I’m going to write just one or two pages then I’m going to go to lunch.” So you do that, and you write one or two pages. Then, while you’re at lunch you start coming up with more ideas, stuff starts bubbling and percolating. You come back from lunch and you challenge yourself to come up with five new pages in the next hour or two.
Then all of a sudden you have ten pages and you’re just a writing machine and everything is going smooth. But you couldn’t get to that point of peak performance right at the start of your day right when you woke up. It’s probably not realistic to think you can get there right off the bat unless you’ve been building up to it with macro momentum for a very long time.
So this is the distinction between macro and micro momentum, I hope you understand this a little bit better. Really you should be using both of these to get yourself to a level of peak performance. Build up throughout your day and then build up every day throughout the week, the month and the year to get yourself to this amazing level. Where people just look at you they see you as this Olympic athlete and you’re getting these things done. You’re doing amazing lifts at the gym, you’re able to produce so much stuff at work.
Discipline and Study
The reason you are able to do this is you’ve been utilizing this ramping up process that most people discount. They just try to force it and then it fails on them. So that is a great way to build up to peak performance. The other thing I’m going to tell you, some other tidbits about peak performance, is discipline.
You need discipline of course to make this process work. And that is why most people are not getting this peak performance in their life because they take it too casually. They’re not disciplined about it. They’re not willing to force discipline upon themselves. So, study how to build discipline within yourself.
I have covered that in other videos. It is a deep topic and very fascinating. Then, I want to encourage you to be a student. Be a student of personal development. Be a student of inner work, of psychology. Performance is deeply routed in psychology, more so than even the actions that you are taking.
Because the actions are a reflection of who you are, what you believe, how you think of yourself, what you think of your capabilities, what kind of goals you set for yourself, what kind of vision you create, what kind of techniques you use, like visualizations and affirmations, and also just the things that you know, the knowledge that you have, and the workings of your psychology.
So the better you understand yourself, the better you master your emotions, and you know all these principles of self development that I talk about, then the better you’re going to be able to see the avenues of improving performance in any aspect of your life. So, to be a peak performer you have to be a student of it.
You know one thing top athletes do, is they study this stuff. They study the psychology of peak performance in order to get peak performance physically. It’s not just about training physically, it’s also about training mentally. So there’s both of these components, and don’t discount the mental element.
And of course peak performance, if you really want to be performing at your peak, and this is too deep of a topic to get into here, you’ve got to start worrying about your nutrition and your exercise. Even if we’re talking about performance at work, even if we’re talking about performance writing a novel, even if we’re talking about some performance doing public speaking, or even performance in bed, to get the performance you want you have to have energy and the vitality to get that.
That means you have to start looking out for your nutrition and your exercise so that your body is in good shape. Because when your body is in good shape, and your brain is in good shape, then you can get peak performance out of this machine that is the human body. So start looking out for that, and I’ve got more videos on that.
And that’s going to do it. I think that those are the core principles of peak performance. There’s more to it, of course, nuances, but go ahead and post your comments down below. I want to hear what you guys think.
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