High performers are individuals who are able to create and sustain increasing levels of both success and well-being over the long term. The book High Performance Habits presents findings from one of the largest studies conducted on high achievers around the globe. It explores six habits which 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.
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HIGH PERFORMANCE HABITS
The Book in Four Sentences:
1. “When you knock on the door of opportunity, do not be surprised that it is work who answers.”
2. The High Performance Habits [HP6] are deliberate habits which require regular practice, continuous refinement, and effort.
3. The HP6: Seek Clarity, Generate Energy, Raise Necessity, Increase Productivity, Develop Influence and Demonstrate Courage.
4. “Everything is trainable.”
The 6 High Performance Habits
HIGH PERFORMANCE HABIT#1 SEEK CLARITY
“…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.”
To seek clarity is to establish a vision and set intentions on a frequent basis on the type of person you want to become, the skills you need to develop, and how you can make a difference. On the contrary, a lack of clarity is associated with more negative emotions, as Brendon writes:
“No Vision, no enthusiasm”
“…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.”
Collected from the book, below are 2 exercises to help you with gaining more clarity:
Consider answering the following questions about yourself:
- “Who am I?”
- “What are my strengths and weaknesses?”
- “What do I value the most in life?”
- “What are my future aspirations and what goals am I pursuing to realize that vision?”
- “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, Courage, etc. or they can be one word commands / mantras which may act as a ‘compass’ that guides your life. In addition, once you’ve chosen your values / mantras: set aside a brief period of time each day and either think or journal about whether you’ve been living life according to those standards.
“… LIVE. LOVE. MATTER. These three words became my clarity checkpoint 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.” [Brendon Burchard, High Performance Habits]
HIGH PERFORMANCE HABIT #2 GENERATE ENERGY
This involves Maximizing mental alertness, increasing positive emotions and enhancing physical vibrancy to perform better in all dimensions of life.
Lower energy levels hinder your ability to reach high performance in all aspects of your life. You’re less happy, not as willing to take on life’s challenges, your confidence plummets and you tend to eat less healthy and gain weight. Conversely, the more energy a person has, the more likely it is that they will reach the top level in their respective field of interest.
Master Transitions by Setting Intentions…
Every day we go through a series of transitions, for instance – when we wake up and start our day that’s a transition from sleep to activation. When we drive to work and enter the office, that’s a transition from solitary time to working with others. When you complete that presentation and switch attention to your email inbox, that’s a transition.
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, that is, in the transition period –you set an intention for yourself by trying to answer any of 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?
“The simple act of deliberately pausing between activities and setting intentions will help you gain more presence in your life.”
“[Exercise]… increases your energy and also enables you to perform general tasks faster and more efficiently. It boosts your working memory, elevates your mood, and increases your attention span…
…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. Clearly, 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
“When you feel necessity, you don’t sit around wishing or hoping. You get things done.”
You cannot become extraordinary without a sense that it’s absolutely necessary to excel. To raise necessity is to re-kindle those emotional drives that make great performance an absolute necessity rather than a preference.
Setting Valued Goals & Actively Monitoring Progress…
By setting valued goals which align with our future identity, we are more driven and thus, more likely to excel at what we are doing.
Burchard also writes that high performers tend to self-monitor their own performance more frequently than under-performers and provides research-backed evidence on why this is so effective:
“Decades of research involving over forty thousand participants has shown that people who set difficult and specific goals outperform people who set vague and non-challenging goals.”
“…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 allows to put forth your best efforts with full focus on the singular task at hand. The concept entails that every time you sit on your desk chair, prior to working – you ask yourself:
“Who needs me on my A game the most right now?”
As 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. A common practice amongst athletes is that just before a game commences, they psyche themselves up by stating their why’s.
In addition, Burchard adds:
“…a lot of pro athletes tend to enjoy telling others ‘why’ they are doing something even more than ‘how’ they are going to do it. Also, by being open to feedback on how to improve they are able to find new and better ways to perform.”
HIGH PERFORMANCE HABIT #4 INCREASE PRODUCTIVITY
The author clarifies that if you want to increase your productivity, then first: you need to 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 minimizing other sub-priorities or distractions.
When you train yourself to be able to focus on a single task whilst minimizing distractions–you produce output that is of greater quality.
Maintaining focus on a single task also results in faster completion of that task as compared to multitasking.
Prioritize work around Prolific Quality Outputs (PQO)…
Determine what your relevant Prolific Quality Output (PQO) means to you.
For example: more frequent and quality content might be the PQO for a blogger, for the ice cream chain it may mean discerning their 2 best-selling flavors and expanding distribution on just those 2 flavors. For the parent, their PQO could be to increase the frequency of free time spent with their kids.
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 field.
“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. Ask yourself:
“If there were only 5 major moves to make that goal happen, what would they be?”
As an aspiring writer, Brendon mentions in his book that he wanted to be a New York Times Best Seller but didn’t have a clear path as to which goals would help him attain that dream.
So he conducted interviews with several best-selling authors and deconstructed their major activities. He discovered that most of the successful authors followed these major goals in one way or the other, in other words, the following list was their 5 Moves:
-Finish writing a good book.
-If you want a major publishing deal, get an agent. Or just self-publish.
-Start blogging and posting to social media, and use these to get an e-mail list of subscribers.
-Create a book promotion web page.
-Get five to ten people who have big e-mail lists to promote your book.
Upon knowing the 5 major goals he had to pursue to become a top writer, he broke down the goals into deliverables, deadlines, and activities. He then allocated 60% of his time pursuing them whilst dedicating the remaining 40% for task delegations, distractions and other supporting activities.
“It doesn’t matter whether you know how to achieve your Five Moves at first. The important thing is that for every major goal you have, you figure out the Five Moves. If you don’t know the moves, you lose.”
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 more people on your ideas, make more sales and even become a prominent executive or successfully self-employed.
Ask for What You Want…
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.
Burchard shares his wisdom through experience, backed by research:
“You can’t possibly know whether you have influence with your coworkers 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.”
The main idea: If you want more influence, then ask, and ask often.
HIGH PERFORMANCE HABIT #6 DEMONSTRATE COURAGE
“…people 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.”
The more actions that you take towards facing your fears, the less stressful these actions become. Demonstrating courage could be as simple as taking the first step towards real change. It means speaking up for yourself when it is difficult, facing the challenges and adversities of life rather than avoiding them, or taking action despite feeling fear.
Define what being more courageous means to you and enact it out in your life…
Feats of courage are best judged in the eyes of the actor. Determine whether or not you are living up to your own standards of a courageous life by defining what demonstrating courage in everyday life means to you.
Burchard writes that he would ask his clients the following question to help them gain a better perspective on their idea of enacting a courageous life:
“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.”
“….these six meta-habits are the ones that most move the needle toward progress.”
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