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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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    Last Updated on January 12, 2022

    15 Reasons Why Taking Action Is Important For Success

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    15 Reasons Why Taking Action Is Important For Success

    Success is not guaranteed at birth, and work is required to achieve what you desire. As you grow personally and professionally, you should explore these 15 reasons why taking action is important for success so you can reach your dreams.

    However, before jumping in and taking action, it’s essential to understand its three components.

    1. To take action means to do something to get a particular result.[1] Any time you intentionally create movement, it is all because of the desired outcome. Execute your actions to support your dreams and goals.
    2. Action can be hard to take, but that’s only due to the fact of misrepresentation of the possibilities. Do your best not to focus on the outcome. Instead, ask yourself, “What does this make possible?” Even though obstacles and detours will distract you from your desired results, don’t let that be your primary focus. You’re created for more, so be willing to go the extra mile!
    3. Failure to take action can stem from many areas, the main one being the failures that have already occurred. Look at your failures as a lesson learned, so you can be willing to learn even more. Stretching yourself beyond what you can see builds trust within yourself and seizes the opportunity of the present!

    “Failure is only a trial run to the success for the greatest of these, your journey.”—Kristianne Wargo

    If you want to escape the world of mediocrity, you have to embrace the power of taking action. By doing so, you keep moving in the right direction.

    Your journey is no longer dependent on the outcomes or the results. Instead, it empowers you to tread the trail of hope even when all seems hopeless.

    Further, the main result becomes the balance in your life, all based on Newton’s First Law: the state of motion of an object is maintained as long as the object is not acted upon by an unbalanced force.

    You can take all the hits that come your way, good or bad, due to all things resisting changes in their state of motion—they tend to “keep doing what they’re doing.”[2] The only shift that needs to happen comes from you taking action.

    “Action is the foundational key to all success.”—Pablo Picasso

    Taking action seems to be so fundamentally basic that it should not even have to be mentioned. But life can have you turning in circles that you become disengaged with the basics and need a foundational review. Blaze a new trail filled with the discovery of consistent actions and a determined heart.

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    These 15 reasons why taking action is important for success will decrease your confusion while increasing productivity and heightening your purpose for a lifetime.

    1. Action Allows You to Shift or Pivot

    It’s easier to direct a moving vehicle than one that is parked. So, why not keep moving? Your activity encourages what you don’t see to become visible as you go through the intentional motions. Here is where change occurs, releasing what might have been a struggle to that which is natural.

    2. Action Ignites Motivation

    Getting through the stuff when life happens doesn’t come from pity parties but by taking the next step.

    When you constantly fight for encouragement, your emotions are set in overdrive. The focus is unbearable and stifles the opportunities before you. All you feel is what couldn’t be, and you leave all on the table what you couldn’t see.

    Keep your emotions and feelings in check by staying in action.

    “One step at a time leads to miles of greatness!”—Kristianne Wargo

    3. Action Establishes Habits

    The more you do something, the easier it is to keep doing it, whether good or bad. You can’t succeed if you don’t do anything.

    By maintaining the action, you are setting yourself up for a greater chance of hitting your goals without being too detailed and overplaying the plan.

    4. Action Shrinks Failures

    As much as you always want to be successful, failure is inevitable. But by taking action, your failures become less of the everyday cornerstone and more about engaging in firsts and seconds.

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    The only failure is not trying. So, when you try, you cannot fail.

    5. Action Induces Winning

    No one afraid of losing has ever won. How many times does an athlete have to lose before the win? Too many most would say. But actually, it’s just enough to keep the iron in the fire to refine the gifts and talents. It’s in the fire where champions are made.

    6. Action Breeds Better

    Preparation is good. However, it’s easy to get stuck in research and making sure everything is going to play out as planned. But you can get buried in the preparation and forget that to get you moving to the next level, you must be in action.

    Don’t let yourself become trapped in practice trying to get it all perfect first. Action will always make it better.

    “Action is the heartbeat of success.”—Kristianne Wargo

    7. Action Determines What’s Possible

    You cannot eliminate what doesn’t work and establish what does work except through trial and error. You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take. That requires action on your part.

    You have to be ready and willing to test in real-time to understand the complexity of what you are going after. The more action you take, the deeper your possibilities grow.

    8. Actions Create Your “Now”

    There is no need to put off tomorrow what you can do today. Build consistency in doing something with intention, and see how your life changes.

    If you wait for the right time to show up, you will be waiting forever. Take your day into your own hands and create your “now.”

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    9. Action Slows Down Time

    There’s no time like the present. By staying in action, essentially, you slow down your inhibitions and fears from manifesting into more than what they need to be. You get to decide how fast you move by the actions you take in your every day leading to your success.

    10. Action Produces a Result

    How will you know if what you are doing will get you down the lane of success? Trial and error.

    Every step you take produces an outcome, good or bad. So, why shy away from what works. Do it and make the adjustments needed in real-time.

    11. Action Creates a Chain Reaction

    Once you experience the result and determine the validity of how it coincides with your dreams and goals—meaning getting it right—then it directs you to the next step.

    The plan of how you’re going to achieve success continues through the chain reaction. Action is the foundation where consistency is built.

    12. Action Silences Your Inner Critic

    The most significant time spent is with your inner voice.

    If you are in a constant mode of debating whether or not you are worthy, good enough, or qualified, how will you be able to move forward? You’ll be frozen in time. However, staying in action makes the inner voice more of a nuisance yet can be muted by taking the next step.

    13. Action Utilizes Knowledge

    Reading and learning are addicting. But no matter how much you read or learn, nothing will gain success for you unless you take action.

    The thing is that action is not so exciting. In fact, action can be tedious, especially if you don’t get the desired results. Yet, knowledge can lead your action when utilized appropriately. Don’t sit on what you know. Knowledge is power.

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    14. Action Minimizes Risks

    When you are in constant motion, momentum is on your side. What appears as a risk initially fades away more quickly because there is no time to overthink what just happened. The risks exist only to be outnumbered by the actions taken.

    15. Action Builds Trust with Yourself

    Many failures and dreams stop you in your tracks simply because of the lack of trust.

    When you find yourself down and out, and your record reflects losing more than winning, it’s easier to quit and retreat. Yet, if you have confidence in yourself, trust triumphs over what didn’t happen, opening the door for what’s possible.

    The Success Equation for Life

    Knowledge + Action = Success

    Ready your head to make a commitment that nullifies the missing link and establishes success by taking action. Here is where you will celebrate success more often than not. Now, the results and outcomes may not be as expected, but a little suspense never hurt any journey.

    May your heart compound the experiences, including your commitment to taking action and the results of what’s to come. Claim the ultimate success when action meets your everyday.

    “Grow beyond what you see so you can succeed beyond what you desire.”—Kristianne Wargo

    Your journey is a path of many colors. Take a chance to make a change to choose the action that serves your purpose. Cheers to you for taking action and creating success this new season! The best is yet to come. Be present. Be incredible. Be you!

    More Tips to Get You Into Action

    Featured photo credit: Joshua Earle via unsplash.com

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    Reference

    [1] Merriam-Webster: take action
    [2] The Physics Classroom: Newton’s First Law

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