High Performance Habits (2017) presents findings from one of the largest studies conducted on high achievers around the globe. It explores six habits that have shown to be the most effective when it comes to achieving extraordinary results and sustained success. The author, Brendon Burchard is a high performance coach and personal development trainer.

High Performance Habits Summary

Key Takeaways

  • When you knock on the door of opportunity, do not be surprised that it is work who answers.”
  • High performers are individuals who are able to create and sustain increasing levels of both success and well-being over the long term.
  • The High Performance Habits, also known as HP6, are deliberate habits that require regular practice, continuous refinement, and effort.
  • The HP6: Seek ClarityGenerate EnergyRaise Necessity, Increase ProductivityDevelop Influence and Demonstrate Courage.
  • “Everything is trainable.”

Brendon Burchard “High Performance Habits” Summary

High Performance Habit #1: Seek Clarity

To seek clarity is to establish a vision and set intentions frequently on the type of person you want to become and the skills you need to develop. 

Burchard writes: “…you don’t ‘have’ clarity; you generate it… clarity is the child of careful thought and mindful experimentation. It comes from asking yourself questions continually and further refining your perspective on life.”

“…having a clear plan is as important as motivation and willpower. It also helps you see past distractions and inoculates you against negative moods—the more clarity you have, the more likely you are to get stuff done even on the days you feel lazy or tired.”

Know Yourself
Consider answering the following questions:

  • “Who am I?” 
  • “What are my strengths and weaknesses?”                                
  • “What do I value the most in life?”
  • “What are my future aspirations
  • “What goals am I pursuing to fulfill these aspirations?
  • “If I could describe my ideal self in the future, the person I am trying to become, how would I describe that self?” 

Choosing Values To Live By
Choose 3 inspirational words that best describe your future self. They can be values such as Discipline, Helping Others, Achievement, Responsibility, etc. or they can be one-word commands or mantras. Once you’ve done that, set aside a brief period of time each day and reflect on whether your day was spent living according to those values. 

As Burchard clarifies: “… LIVE. LOVE. MATTER. These three words became my clarity checkpoints in life. Every night, lying in bed just before dozing off, I would ask myself, “Did I live fully today? Did I love? Did I matter?” I’ve asked those questions of myself every night for over twenty years.” 

High Performance Habit #2: Generate Energy

To generate energy is to maximize mental alertness, increase positive emotions, and enhance physical vibrancy to perform better in all dimensions of life. The more energy a person has, the more likely it is that they will reach the top level in their respective fields of interest.

Master Transitions By Setting Intentions
Every day we go through a series of transitions, for instance –waking up and starting your day is a transition from sleep to activation. When you drive to work and enter the office, that’s a transition from solitary time to working with others. The key is to first make a list of all the transitions that occur in your day, then, when you move from one major activity to the next (in the transition period) you set an intention for yourself by answering the following questions…

  • “What energy do I want to bring into this next activity?”
  • “How can I do this next activity with more excellence?”
  • “How can I enjoy the process?” 

Burchard clarfies: “the simple act of deliberately pausing between activities and setting intentions will help you gain more presence in your life.” 

Exercise!
“…One stunning finding from our research on over twenty thousand high performers is that the top 5 percent of all high performers are 40 percent more likely to exercise at least three days per week than the 95 percent below them. If you want to join the top ranks of success in life, it’s time to take exercise seriously.”

High Performance Habit #3: Raise Necessity

You cannot become extraordinary without a sense that it’s absolutely necessary to excel, Burchard tells us. Thus, to raise necessity is to re-kindle those emotional drives that make great performance an absolute necessity rather than a preference.

He writes: “when you feel necessity, you don’t sit around wishing or hoping. You get things done.” 

Setting Goals & Actively Monitoring Progress
By setting goals that are aligned with your future identity, you’re more driven and therefore, more likely to excel at what you are doing. In addition, Burchard points out that high performers tend to self-monitor their own performance more frequently than under-performers. He cites from his findings as to why this is so effective: “Decades of research involving over forty thousand participants have shown that people who set difficult and specific goals outperform people who set vague and non-challenging goals.”

He adds: “…the goal for all under-performers must be to set new standards, self-monitor more frequently, and learn to become comfortable with taking a hard, unflinching look at their own performance.”

Know Who Needs Your ‘A’ Game
Your ‘A’ game is what brings about your best efforts with full focus on the singular task at hand. The concept entails that every time you sit on your chair prior to work, you ask yourself: “Who needs me on my ‘A’ game the most right now?”   

Burchard explains: “The mere mention of your A-game forces an internal review:

  • What is my ‘A’ game?
  • Have I been bringing it today?
  • What would my A game look like in the next hour or so?”

The question also forces us to think about those significant others in our lives. When we have someone external to take action for, we generally perform better.” 

Be Clear About Your Why, But Open About Your How
Every time we affirm why we are doing something, the task becomes more important to us. Burchard further explains that a common practice amongst athletes is that just before a game commences, they tend to psyche themselves up by stating their why’s.

High Performance Habit #4: Increase Productivity

If you want to increase your productivity, first, you need to first determine the outputs that will matter the most in your success. Second, you need to be prolific about creating those outputs so that they are of high quality, whilst at the same time minimize other sub-priorities or distractions. When you’re able to focus on a single task for sustained periods at a time, you produce output that is of greater quality.

Prioritize Work Around Prolific Quality Outputs (PQO)
For a blogger, their PQO might be publishing more frequent and quality content. The PQO for an ice cream chain may mean discerning their two best-selling flavors and expanding distribution on just those two flavors. For the parent, their PQO could be to increase the frequency of time that they spend with their kids.

Burchard points out that high performers tend to aim most of their concentration towards their PQO and thus, produce more high-quality output over the long term than others in their respective field. He writes, “Figuring out what you are supposed to produce, and learning the priorities in the creation, quality, and frequency of that output is one of the greatest breakthroughs you can have in your career.”

Chart Your Five Moves
Think about your most ambitious dream…“If there were only 5 major moves to make that goal happen, what would they be?”

High Performance Habit #5: Develop Influence

This habit is about cultivating the ability to shape other people’s beliefs and behaviors. When you have more influence, you are able to diffuse conflicts faster, work on projects that you ask for, rally other people on your ideas, and make more sales.

Ask For What You Want
In High Performance Habits, Burchard points out that one of the reasons why people are unable to develop influence is because they don’t ask for what they want. This might be due to a fear of rejection, or that they think others will judge them harshly, or simply because they underestimate the willingness of others to engage and help. 

He writes, “You can’t possibly know whether you have influence with your co-workers unless you ask them to do something. Several replicated studies show that people tend to say yes over three times as often as people thought they would. I also share this research fact with them: If someone does say yes to helping you, they tend to like you even more after they’ve done something for you.”

“People don’t grudgingly help you. If they didn’t want to, they’d probably say no.”

Thus, the idea here is that if you want more influence, then ask, and ask often!

High Performance Habit #6: Demonstrate Courage

We have a tendency to think of courage as a human virtue that some have and others don’t. But that’s incorrect.

“Courage is more like a skill since anyone can learn it. And once you understand and demonstrate it more consistently, everything changes.” 

Define What Being More Courageous Means To You
The author points out that feats of courage are best judged in the eyes of the actor. He mentions that in order to help his clients gain a better perspective, Burchard would ask them the following question:

 “If your future best self—a version of you ten years older, who is even stronger, more capable, and more successful than you imagined yourself to be—showed up on your doorstep today and looked at your current circumstances, what courageous action would that future-self advise you to take right away to change your life? How would your future-self tell you to live?”

Honor The Struggle
“No one who achieved greatness avoided struggle. They met it, engaged with it. They knew that it was necessary, because they knew that real challenge and hardship pushed them, extended their capabilities, made them rise. They learned to honor the struggle. They developed a mindset that anticipated the struggle, welcomed the struggle, and leveraged the struggle into reasons to give more.”