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.
Read this book summary in 7 Minutes
High Performance Habits
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- “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 Clarity, Generate Energy, Raise Necessity, Increase Productivity, Develop Influence and Demonstrate Courage.
- “Everything is trainable.”
High Performance Habits
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High Performance Habit #1
Summary: 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.”
He reasons: “…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.”
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 which act as a compass that guides your life. Once you’ve chosen your values, set aside a brief period each day and reflect on whether you’ve been living life according to those standards.
The author 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.”
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High Performance Habit #2
Summary: 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 our day is a transition from sleep to activation. Similarly, when we drive to work and enter the office, that’s a transition from solitary time to working with others. Furthermore, when you complete that presentation and switch your attention to that email which needs a reply, 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. You do this by answering 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?”
Burchard writes: “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. If you want to join the top ranks of success in life, it’s time to take exercise seriously.”
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High Performance Habit #3
Summary: 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.
Burchard adds: “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 our future identity, we are more driven and thus, more likely to excel at what we are doing. The author demonstrates that high performers tend to self-monitor their own performance more frequently than under-performers. He cites from studies 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.”
“…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 further 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?
He adds: “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.
Furthermore, he writes: “…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.”
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High Performance Habit #4
Summary: Burchard clarifies that if you want to increase productivity, 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).
Firstly, determine what your relevant 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 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 field.
He adds: “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. Then, ask yourself:
“If there were only 5 major moves to make that goal happen, what would they be?”
In ‘High Performance Habits,’ Brendon Burchard recalls the time when he first aspired to be a writer but didn’t have a clear path as to which goals would help him attain that dream.
As a result, 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 to grow a subscriber base.
- Create a book promotion web page.
- Get 5 to 10 people who have big e-mail lists to promote your book.
Upon knowing the 5 major goals, he broke them down into deliverables, deadlines, and activities, and then allocated 60% of his time pursuing them whilst dedicating the remaining 40% of his time for task delegations, distractions, and other supporting activities.
He writes: “It doesn’t matter whether you know how to achieve your Five Moves at first or not. 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.”
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High Performance Habit #5
Summary: 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.
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 shares some insights gained from the research:
“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.”
He adds: “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!
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High Performance Habit #6
Summary: Burchard writes: “…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.”
He tells us that the more actions you take towards facing your fears, the less stressful these actions become. Demonstrating courage could be as simple as taking that first step towards real change, or to speak up when it is difficult. It also means facing the challenges and adversities of life rather than avoiding them and taking action despite feeling fear.
Define What Being More Courageous Means To You.
The author wisely points out that feats of courage are best judged in the eyes of the actor. He would ask his clients the following question so that they could gain a better perspective about their own notions behind enacting a more 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,” writes the author Brendon Burchard, “are the ones that most move the needle toward progress.”
Note that in the book, each habit mentioned contains case studies, exercises as well as ‘performance prompts,’ which are not included in this summary.
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THE BOOK ON AMAZON:
“High Performance Habits: How Extraordinary People Become That Way.”