There are achievers, and then there are super achievers. These are the people who make stuff happen. They seem unstoppable. That’s not because they’ve never failed; it’s because they don’t let failure become the endpoint. Ready to see your own performance move from mediocre to outstanding? Here’s what to do.

1. You must achieve a level of competence.

Don’t stop because you can’t. Just keep learning until you can. The hours of study, research, practice, and just trying you put in will raise your ability inch by inch. And that’s what you have to do if you want to be a high performer. You don’t let the gap between where you are and where you want to be stop you. You simply consider how to cross the gap, and then do what it takes until you get there.

Consider this insight from Tomas Chamorro-Premuzic:

As the legendary Paul Arden (ex creative director at Saatchi & Saatchi) noted: “I want means: if I want it enough I will get it. Getting what you want means making the decisions you need to make to get what you want.”. If you really want what you say you want, then, your low confidence will only make you work harder to achieve it — because it will indicate a discrepancy between your desired goal and your current state.

2. You must set goals worth fighting for.

Kriss Carr was only 32 when she was diagnosed with what doctors called an incurable cancer. Rather than accepting this diagnosis, she turned her life around and 10 years later is “thriving with cancer.” Oh, and she’s also running a popular wellness website, is the author of books and documentaries, and is a renowned healthy living expert.

When it matters, you can push yourself to do it. When you look at your goals and think, “Meh, I don’t really care,” you’re not going to fight your way out of a slump. Why would you? So drop the stuff that doesn’t matter to you and set goals that you truly can’t live without.

3. You must treat others with respect.

There’s no power in disrespecting the people around you. High performers know that showing respect not only opens doors, it also enables you to interact in a way gives you the most focus and clarity in every interaction. As Randy Garutti, CEO of Shake Shack, says,

It’s about being present. You can’t be everywhere for everyone, every time. But if there’s one thing I work tirelessly to do, it’s being present when I am there. There’s nothing worse than a leader who gives you their time but not their focus. (Just like there’s nothing worse than reading a story to my kids at bedtime and having my mind drift off to all the other things I have going on.) Being present is something I focus on every day.

4. You must put in the time.

If you want to reach those life-changing goals, you have to put in the hours. There’s no shortcut here. There’s not happy little spaceship that will whisk you away if you just want it bad enough. If you put in average effort, you’ll get average results.

No, you’re going to have to get there one day at a time by working hard and, well, working long. Various research shows that high performers are people who put in long hours: 60-hour workweeks are commonplace among the successful.

If you want to be outstanding, you must be committed to doing the work even if it requires long hours. And, most likely, it will.

5. You must define what works for you.

No one else can tell you how to get there from here. And being an outstanding performer means figuring out how to make that leap yourself. Your goals will tell you what you need to do, and then you have to figure out how you can best do it. You also have to figure out what’s too much. When do you need a break? How do you know when you’re overloaded? How can you regain balance? How do you stay connected with those you love while pushing yourself to reach big goals?

Nina Garcia, Creative Director at Marie Claire, says this:

Finding this fine balance is what defines me. Books and magazines make me as do iPads and smartphones. The web has helped me to get in touch and meet new people, but I haven’t forgotten my old friends. I love Twitter, but I also love a real conversation that escapes a 140 character limit. I love to read fashion blogs but nothing can compete with the tactile touch of a haute couture gown.

6. You must think of the future.

Christopher Kane knew when he was just a little boy what he wanted to do. “I’ve always been ambitious, even from a young age,” he says. “I became tunnel vision at around 10 or 11. We got Sky TV and it had all these style programmes and I knew I wanted to be a fashion designer.”

That long-term vision served him well; he had his own label selling worldwide before he turned 30. When you are thinking of how you want your life to look in 5, 10, 30 years, you get a lot clearer on what is a waste of time today.

Do you really need to read 27 Buzzfeed articles? Come up with another clever status update? See the latest X-Men flick three times? Or could you be doing something different, something that would actually get you to that future you want to have? If you want to actually get there, start doing it.

7. You must put others first.

People who end up at the top have to work hard. They have to focus. They have to say no, sometimes more than they want to. But that doesn’t mean they don’t value others (they do) and they know how to give. Average people try to get as much as they give. High performers give more than they take.

Adam Grant, author of Give and Take, says:

Then I looked at the other end of the spectrum and said if Givers are at the bottom, who’s at the top? Actually, I was really surprised to discover, it’s the Givers again. The people who consistently are looking for ways to help others are over-represented not only at the bottom, but also at the top of most success metrics. 

8. You must value honesty and transparency.

There’s no substitute for good values. If people learn that you aren’t trustworthy, that’s a lesson they won’t forget. Becoming who you want to be means that you need to start with a strong foundation. That foundation must include a commitment to integrity that you hold fast to, even when you might profit (temporarily) by waffling on your stance or hiding the truth.

Just don’t do it.

As entrepreneur and investor Amy Rees Anderson says,

Success will come and go, but integrity is forever. Integrity means doing the right thing at all times and in all circumstances, whether or not anyone is watching.

Featured photo credit: Mariano Kamp via flickr.com

Love this article?