LEARN TO EXPERIENCE YOUR OWN PERFECT PERFORMANCES. IT’S FREE.
LEARN TO EXPERIENCE YOUR OWN PERFECT PERFORMANCES. IT’S FREE.
Destination + Decision
First choose your destination. This is not just a goal. Goals are things we are aiming for, hope for, or in some cases feel we should do.
A destination is grander than a goal. A destination is more a purpose. It should excite the hell out of you, and it should scare the hell out of you. If you are not excited then put it down on your to-do list as something you ‘should do’. And if you are not scared then it is not hard enough, and not important enough to you.
What are you here to do? What difference will you make? What will you change?
Once you are clear on your destination, you need to make a decision. A rock-solid, unbreakable commitment. When we have a goal we admit the possibility that we might fail. When you make a decision there is zero space for failure.
Decision is not hoping to win, not admitting you’d like to, and not even telling people you are going to. Decision is an internal certainty. It is when you are 100% sure of what will happen, it just hasn’t happened yet.
Belief is one of the most powerful tools in the world. The way you interpret the world, the things you say and the way you behave are all reflections of what you believe about yourself.
Use ‘I am…’ to align what you are thinking, speaking and doing. All three are connected. For example, if you improve your posture (how you act) you instantly feel more confident.
Cultivating this mindset is not to say that you suddenly develop a gigantic ego. Have you ever noticed that the best athletes, executives and performers are the most gracious? Confidence and certainty, without arrogance, is the aim.
So think, speak and act ‘as if’ – as if you are the best in your school, in your company or in the world. Believe that ‘I am’ a winner, and that ‘I have’ a perfect performance inside me – the world just hasn’t been shown it yet.
Find your day-to-day drivers
There is a widely held belief that if you ‘find your passion’, or have a big enough goal, then you will always be motivated. Wrong. Do you think there aren’t days when a swimmer just wants to hit snooze instead of getting up at 4am? It is finding your recipe for day-to-day motivation, your burning fire, that will keep you going.
If you ask an athlete what motivates them you’ll often get the standard ‘winning the Olympics’, and that’s true at an overarching level. But if you dig a little deeper into the day-to-day drivers it is usually a collection of smaller things that create the burning fire to succeed. The pleasure of spending time with team mates, wanting to make their coach proud of them, maintaining a reputation, learning new things and hitting a PB…
Discover your inner drivers – what feelings motivate you most? It could be feeling loved, successful, creative or any other emotion. Once you’ve done this, map out the hundreds of small things in your day that generate these feelings.
Everybody needs a coach
A coach is someone who knows what comes next in your journey and helps guide you (or sometimes give you a big shove) to there. They will ask you difficult questions and demand seemingly impossible things from you.
Find a coach that you like, but more importantly one that you respect and will listen to.
And remember, you want the best coach teaching you, not your competitor.
Surround yourself with people better than you
Did you know that your income is the average of the five people you spend the most time with? I bet you are thinking you need more rich friends! But the same also goes for any other endeavor – if you want to be a great artist you can’t spend your time with preschoolers and finger paint. And if you want to be a CEO you can’t work for companies that are poorly run.
Find a peer group, a company or a team whose standards of performance are significantly higher than yours. Immerse yourself in that group until their standards become your standards. Model the top performers and adopt the high achieving culture of the group.
What’s your competitive advantage?
To be successful in any endeavor there is usually a set of skills, qualifications and experience that is necessary. Obtaining these is like your entry ticket to the competition. To win though you need something additional.
This extra quality is your competitive advantage and is based on your strengths. Ask what is it that you do better than anybody else? What is your point of difference?
Lastly, how can you make your competitive advantage sustainable over the long term?
Must do + should do + could do
There are certain things you ‘must do’ to reach your destination. If you want to be a lawyer you need a law degree, there is no getting around it. Think long and hard about what is non-negotiable – the list should be very short.
Then there are things that are ‘should dos’. These are the things that most, but not all, successful people in the field have done. For instance most, but not all, business CEOs have a degree.
Lastly there are the uncommon and unique things that will specifically help you become a winner. For example, a couple of football players take ballet lessons to improve their flexibility and footwork, but this certainly isn’t the norm! These are your ‘could dos’ and should help you develop your competitive advantage to the next level.
Chart your map starting with the ‘must dos’, add some ‘should dos’ and then fill it in with the ‘might dos’. Lastly add a timeline to your map.
Beyond unconscious competence
When you first start learning something you don’t even know how unskilled you are. You are in the unconscious incompetence phase. You are the person sitting on the couch thinking that if you were on the football field you would do it better than the players out there.
When you start practicing you begin to learn how terrible you actually are. You enter the conscious incompetence phase of developing skill.
After a fairly significant amount of practice you begin to develop reasonable skills and gain conscious competence.
Finally, you become a master at what you are practicing. You can do it every single time without even thinking. Unconscious competence is the sign of mastering skill.
Beyond unconscious competence is where it really gets interesting. We move into the realm of meta-skills, intuition, flow and perfect performances. There are no real shortcuts to developing true skill. It is often said that it takes 10,000 hours to become a master at something. If you want a perfect performance then you need to practice the needed skills over and over and over again.
Winning as your way of life
How do top athletes get up at 5am day after day? How do they say no to unhealthy food? How do they push their bodies to the point of pain every day? How do they deliver close to perfect performances time after time?
The answer is simple, and also rather uninspiring. Habit.
Excellence is a habit as much as biting your nails or smoking. Humans are creatures of routine and your mind will constantly seek to create structure and habits in your life.
It takes just 21 days to create a habit so start rewiring your way of life today.
Prepare to perform perfectly
Whilst some people rise to the occasion and perform to the best of their ability on the day that counts, this is unfortunately not the case for most people. Perfect performances don’t happen by accident.
A minimum of 90% of the performance you see on game day is due to the preparation that occurred prior. Not just physical preparation, but mental and emotional too.
Physical – If you’re an athlete be strong and skilled. If you’re a business person understand your facts and figures intuitively. If you’re a student know the materials you are studying.
Mental – Research your competition. Work out your tactics and strategy in advance. Practice your own thought patterns so that you are constantly thinking of solutions, or reinforcing belief in your capability.
Emotional – Practice with emotional intensity. Put yourself under immense pressure with difficult consequences in practice. Make training emotionally harder than game day.
Execution when it counts happens because you put in the work when it didn’t count. When no one is watching what were you doing?
“Champions do not become champions when they win the event, but in the hours, weeks, months and years they spend preparing for it. The victorious performance itself is merely the demonstration of their championship character.” T. Allen Armstrong
Learn, grow and acknowledge
This step is about what you do after each performance, competition or milestone.
First, reflect on your performance. Regardless of whether you failed or were perfect, determine why. What could you have done even better? What did your competitors do that you can learn from?
Second, resilience is essential. If you didn’t achieve the result you wanted you need to regain your drive and commitment to your goal, and readjust your timeline for achieving it. If you were successful you will likely experience a dip in motivation until you readjust your goals and standards upwards.
Third, recognize both your own efforts and the efforts of those people who helped you. Irrespective of your result you didn’t get to where you are alone so say thank you.
Use reflection to learn, develop resilience in order to grow, and acknowledge those who were a part of your journey to experience a perfect performance.