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Published on December 23, 2020

How to Be a High Performer and Achieve Excellence

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How to Be a High Performer and Achieve Excellence

Even if the idea of starting your day with a bout of exercise at 5:00 am doesn’t appeal to you, you can still achieve excellence and become a high performer in all aspects of your life. It does, however, require investing time in reviewing and regularly sharpening mental skills using different combinations of awareness exercises, growth exercises, and self-monitoring.

To be a high performer, you don’t need to exercise all of these following strategies together or simultaneously. Simply committing to a few of them in measured doses, over time, will have you well on the pathway to achieving excellence in whatever areas of life you wish to experience greater rewards and satisfaction.

1. Develop Plans

Becoming a high performer and achieving excellence doesn’t happen by accident. It’s planned and deliberate. Plans also contain more proactive strategies than reactive ones.

There is no shortage of research documenting the benefits of writing down plans and goals and that doing so increases the likelihood of you achieving what it is you set out to do, experience, and be[1].

There are at least two levels of additional processing occurring in your brain which foster the likelihood of achieving goals you write down:

  • External storage: By writing out your plans, you now have an external place which also holds this information. You don’t commit further energy to needing to remember your plans; you’ve created an external reference point you can go back to.
  • Encoding: A part of your brain called the hippocampus plays an important role in filtering information funnels and deciding what gets transferred to long-term memory. Your amygdala works in tandem with your hippocampus to modulate memory consolidation. When information has certain emotional frequencies attached, this helps to consolidate that information into long-term memory.

With this knowledge in mind, you can maximize your chances of becoming a high performer by strategically bringing life to your plans.

Don’t just let your plans consist of spoke diagrams and Gantt charts. Use an array of pictures, images, stories, animations and whatever other materials you can find that ignite your emotional resonation to action steps of your plan(s).

As you develop, write and map your plans, know they can also change. Be open to this and make space for this. Review and visit your plans often.

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Visit three to five key points each day that invite you to take specific steps and actions. Deliberately set time aside to routinely do this.

If you are finding you are developing plans but not following through with them, consider working with a coach to recalibrate them. There is likely misalignment with your goals and true values and priorities.

2. Regulate Your Emotions and Prepare for Discomfort

Any high performer is born with the capacity to feel and experience a wide spectrum of emotions.

There is a key separator between high performers who consistently manage to operate from a state of flow —even in the most stressful of circumstances—and those who crumble. High performers respect their experiences of negative emotions. They exercise considered and deliberate efforts to learn their unique response and reactionary patterns.

They don’t make excuses to mask or cover up negative emotional responses and reactions. They don’t repress them but cleverly compartmentalize and contain their experiences and commit to coming back to process them later.

Undertaking a few sessions with a therapist to learn and practice acceptance and commitment therapy techniques (ACT) can be widely useful[2]. You can learn to alleviate the intensity, sting, and duration of certain emotions.

Having techniques that teach you to predict, embrace, and process the mental and emotional impact of challenging relationships and situations will give you a winning edge. Another benefit of learning such skills is feeling you are living more fully and authentically, despite challenges. A new level of confidence develops as you come to learn and recognize that despite what happens, you will always be ok.

3. Self-Monitor and Live More Consciously

In order to become a high performer, you first need to know or set your benchmark as a starting reference point. Monitoring activities therefore must constitute part of your plans and goals. Determining and mapping starting points is essential. Simple as it seems, it must be done with caution, particularly in situations involving high pressure and mental strain.

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A study[3] examining the effectiveness of digital self-monitoring applications demonstrated numerous benefits, but also some very clear negative impacts. Across numerous studies assessing 1768 participants’ experiences with using digital applications that help to promote health and wellbeing, reported benefits included:

  • Highlighting of problem behaviors
  • Increasing individual accountability
  • Fosters more reflection and attention to activities that bring about positive change
  • Increase awareness and consciousness of the state of health and wellness
  • Concrete information and feedback give greater control to participants to make helpful and informed decisions

Some noteworthy drawbacks included:

  • Self-monitoring exercises being tedious and boring
  • Monitoring activities provoking health disorders, unhealthy behavioral patterns and thinking (e.g. excessive calorie counting, focusing on weight and body mass, as opposed to recognizing positive mental health changes).

If you are also in the pre-contemplation stage of behavior change[4], then self-monitoring can have a negative effect. If you are not willing or open to change, self-monitoring and goal setting in themselves are completely pointless activities.

Stages of Change

     

    4. Master Habits and Behavior Change

    To be a high performer means you need to engage in behaviors that align with excellence. Like the rest of us, you can probably come up with at least ten behaviors and choice patterns that are not high-performance-yielding behaviors!

    Created by psychologist and researcher Dr. Albert Ellis, the A-B-C model of behavioral change[5] can help you explore how your unique beliefs and values drive your reactionary responses.

    With this stronger self-awareness and understanding, you can then test to see if you are open to challenging your belief system by considering other perspectives and interpretations of what happened. In doing so, you get to explore different responses as opposed to remaining vulnerable each time you are triggered by similar events or situations.

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    Applying this thought process—particularly toward situations and circumstances that trigger uncomfortable emotional reactions—will greatly help you to regain a sense of mental balance. You increase your ability to remain focused and still maintain momentum in activities that are a high priority for you.

    5. Apply Growth and Learning in Regular, Small Doses

    Research repeatedly shows that getting optimal sleep improves our memory retention[6]. If you were looking to improve your muscle tone by committing to a weights routine, your personal trainer wouldn’t recommend you exercise the same muscle groups every day. Nor would they recommend you look to increase your reps nor amount of weights you lift, at every subsequent workout.

    We are at our greatest point of power to change when we are present in the moment. Therefore, it helps to set goals to focus on experiencing growth and change in short spurts over shorter periods. Our brains are highly powerful at reverting us to what feels safe, comfortable, and easy. If you set goals that require long periods of discomfort and pain void of enough pleasure and emotional reward, you’re setting yourself up for a setback, if not failure and disappointment.

    Set goals that entail shorter chunks of effort interspersed with reflective rest periods. Then, go again. This approach also allows for other unexpected life events and important relationships to be preserved and receive the devoted attention they deserve to remain strong and healthy for the long-term.

    6. Commit to Personal Development

    To achieve excellence requires taking action. A high performer knows and prepares themselves for the fact that taking action that will result in change is likely to bring them pain and discomfort.

    Our brains primarily function to protect us, help us survive, solve problems, and bring us back to feeling safe, comfortable, and in balance. We, therefore, look to avoid painful and uncomfortable situations as much as we can. For example:

    • Asking for a pay rise because we fear rejection
    • Saying no to things we feel uncomfortable about and/or disagree with because they are misaligned with our core principles, beliefs, and ethics
    • Fear of dating again after we have survived a nasty relationship dissolution
    • Starting again when we have experienced significant failure
    • Having confronting conversations with friends, loved ones, or work colleagues

    You might have experienced some or all of these above, at different times. High performers take time to review their own unique paradigms, belief systems, and behavior patterns when events and situations like these arise. They take time to predict how they might experience their reactions and contributions.

    It’s far easier to read a book or sit through a course. Your keep your emotional and mental states safe in these situations. However, the knowledge you want has no true value unless you apply it.

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    Expect your attempts at practicing skills and experiencing a change to be messy and fragmented. Expect to feel negative emotions if your practice doesn’t prove effective. This is a necessary part of growth, especially when it comes to interpersonal skills, because we are dealing with relational skills where other people behave, think, and respond in ways we have no control over.

    7. Identify and Remove Distractions

    Becoming a high performer requires focus on achieving results. However, you must learn to identify two main things:

    • Whether or not some distractions are opportunities to experience healthy rest and reprieve
    • Whether or not we engage in distractions to avoid and delay experiencing something else

    Here’s where we need to exercise true honesty with ourselves. Where you choose to spend your time and energy speaks volumes about your priorities and what is truly important to you.

    Do you spend more time making sure others’ needs are met before your own? Do you chase perfection in place of getting things completed? Do you allow yourself to get lost in busywork activities as opposed to challenging tasks that would move you directly toward achieving your goals?

    High performers embrace responsibilities, selectively say no, and exercise confidence to accommodate what primarily works best with their timetable.

    Do you feel bad about suggesting another time to reconnect with a friend instead of immediately saying yes? Do you always accept nominations where you are required to lead, manage, and coordinate? Do you feel you say yes more often than you say no?

    If your answer to these three questions was yes, it’s time to take a hard look at your true priorities and values before setting goals to achieve excellence. All high performers know their pathway to excellence starts here.

    The Bottom Line

    By choosing to try out a few of the tips above, you, too, can become a high performer in any area of your life. Through focus and determination, you can set and achieve goals that will get you closer to a life you can enjoy living.

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    More on Achieving Success

    Featured photo credit: Charlotte Karlsen via unsplash.com

    Reference

    More by this author

    Dr. Malachi Thompson III

    High-Performance Consultant

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    Published on September 20, 2021

    What is Tenacity and How to Use It To Be Successful

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    What is Tenacity and How to Use It To Be Successful

    Do you ever feel like life is passing you by and you don’t have the same energy as others? Maybe you have seen people push for new opportunities with ease, and you wonder how they are capable of so much more. If this is the case, you might need a boost of tenacity. But first, what is tenacity?

    Being tenacious means having drive and passion, which can be experienced in various ways. Maybe you approach cleaning your house with methodical determination and a detailed plan. When it comes to your job, you might analyze how to be more efficient and prepare for future projects while you are off the clock. Being tenacious does not necessarily mean being the loudest in the room or always moving at a fast pace. It also entails giving yourself the space to breathe and be in the shadows when you need to, then showing up again with confidence and strength.

    Tenacity is what makes you leap out of bed each day. You might not have discovered what this spark is yet, but it is somewhere within you. Becoming a more determined person and utilizing this quality can allow you to be more successful. Here are four ways to use tenacity that will yield measurable results.

    1. Put in Preparation

    The key to being a tenacious person is going above and beyond when it comes to preparation. If you have a deadline to meet at your job, take the time to organize your approach. You might need to wake up earlier or stay later on some days to make sure you can deliver your best work. Putting in this extra effort will allow you to stand out, and it could open the door for more opportunities. You might also take steps to plan for retirement. This could mean analyzing your current assets, investing in stocks, or changing your spending habits. Retiring is something we think about all the time, so actually being ready for it will make you more successful.

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    Tenacity can also be used in personal areas of your life. If you are thinking about going on a vacation, start by outlining the logistics of timing. You can first consider if there are any loose ends to tie up before you leave. From there, do thorough research on the area you are traveling to and find out if there are any must-do experiences. Decide on the excursions you want to take part in, and set aside days to simply lounge around. Planning ahead of time will eliminate stress and ensure a more relaxing vacation. Even organizing your days can have a huge impact on feeling accomplished. Creating a grocery list to make meals for the week or scheduling workouts will allow you to be more productive.

    In all aspects of life, the tenacious person takes the time to prepare for the future. This makes achieving your goals easier and you will find that you are more efficient.

    2. Be Forward-Looking

    The difference between a person with fierce tenacity and someone who lacks the same drive is that the tenacious person does not let life just pass them by. If you find yourself constantly reminiscing about the past, you might consider shifting your mindset.

    To be a more determined person, you need to live in the present moment. Exert your energy in focusing on what is to come. You can use your past to shape how you want your future to look, but you have to let go of any resentment you might have. For instance, if you can’t release the memories of a toxic relationship, then you aren’t opening yourself to finding the love of your life. When you wake up, tell yourself that today is an opportunity to accomplish anything you set your heart on and consider what might be next for you.

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    Perhaps you have been pondering how you might develop a new skill or pick up an exciting hobby. Using passion and tenacity, you can seize the day and build a better future by signing up for an instructional class or trying a new activity. There is so much liberty in forward-thinking. You might feel that it is daunting to contemplate the unknown, but it is really a huge chance for change. You are giving yourself a blank canvas to draw who you want to be without holding back. Think about where you might see yourself living in the future, who your friends will be, or what kind of job you will have.

    When you learn to channel tenacious energy towards tasks and goals daily, your days no longer feel mundane, and you can achieve more.

    3. Seek Opportunities

    Part of being tenacious is tapping into one’s passion and purpose. If you show that you are open to new opportunities, you will have more chances to succeed. If you are searching for a job and are offered an interview for a position, make sure you come with insightful questions and send a follow-up or a thank you email. This will set you apart from other candidates and convey that you are enthusiastic about the opportunity.

    If you are already employed, use tenacity to ask for a promotion or expand your duties. You might offer to assist with other team projects or bring new ideas to the table. When you truly love your job and are excited to attend office parties or volunteer at events, you will naturally exude passion and drive.

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    In your personal life, find ways to diversify your routine. Switch up what you order at a restaurant or test out interesting recipes at home. Instead of going to the gym like usual, try out a spin class. Letting every day be a little more different will be revitalizing. Also, seek openings for making new friends. Look for groups or clubs in your community that you can join where you might meet different people who share some of the same interests. Start becoming a person who is up for anything.

    When a friend invites you somewhere, just say yes and be open to a new experience. Others will begin to associate you with being lively and tenacious, and you will attract similar people. When you surround yourself with individuals who are as strong-willed and energetic as you are, you will vibrate at a higher frequency.

    4. Know Your Worth

    Being tenacious will come easily if you remember the bigger picture and can visualize reaching for your dreams. This could mean reminding yourself why your work matters. Whether you have a career in customer service or the corporate world, make sure you understand how what you do benefits others. Knowing that the project you’re working on makes a difference allows you to bring a new level of excitement.

    If you don’t have a clear meaning behind your actions, waking up for a 9-to-5 job feels tiresome, and you become complacent with your position. By asking how everyone’s duties fit together, you might find that you bring a valuable skill. It can also be beneficial to recognize the fruits of your labor. Perhaps you worked with a team member and assisted them with a project. When you see the finished product and how grateful your coworker was for your aid, you gain an understanding of how you can be in service to others. This makes it easier to value your worth and be passionate about other tasks as well.

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    Even keeping a vision board can allow you to be more persistent and determined to succeed. Putting up pictures of a car you’ve always wanted or words associated with the type of partner you’re seeking can motivate you and remind you what your end goal is. Part of being tenacious is also considering how you want people to talk about you. Taking a few moments each day to meditate on how your friends and family regard you will allow you to remember the qualities you love about yourself and anything you might want to work on. Understanding your worth and how others view you helps you live with more tenacity.

    Final Thoughts

    Tenacity is what moves us to action. It is energetic passion and perseverance that we are all capable of exuding. When you are a tenacious person at work, you will become a dependable individual who is given more opportunities.

    Having tenacity in relationships also builds stronger bonds with like-minded people. Challenge yourself to bring determination in these ways to a few aspects of your life in the coming months. By being intentional with your time, you will maximize your impact and embrace success.

    Featured photo credit: Ales Krive via unsplash.com

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