From the January 2006 issue of Entrepreneur

Over the years, I've been lucky to be around a number of super-achievers--ranging from top athletes and business leaders to brain surgeons and billionaires. Whether they've been my guests on TV and radio or clients and friends, their words and actions have had a profound effect on how I think and act.

Sometimes, changing the way you think and act will dramatically impact your sales. It goes beyond simply hanging around successful people, though. If your goal is to achieve peak performance in selling, these four keys will help you get there:

  • Environmental control: We become the company we keep. We are the products of our environment, so what we think about and surround ourselves with matters. Carefully select what you read, what you do and the people you spend time with by the quality of the content that lies within them. Act on all your learning--apply it, and test it. When we repeat something of quality over and over, it becomes a part of our subconscious, and our actions naturally reveal what has been learned. Next time you read something with strong value, brainwash yourself with the content. When it affects your actions, performance is enhanced.


  • Work ethic: If a person makes something look really easy, you can bet there was a great deal of work behind that person's performance. When you immerse yourself in your work and obtain deeper knowledge of your business, it builds excitement and confidence, which impact your performance.
  • It's not popular to use the word work as one of the keys to peak performance. Every day, we're exposed to countless products that promote instant gratification--lose weight in a day, get rich in a week, grow hair in an hour. We want everything we desire to be easy, fast and immediate. When you work hard for something, you appreciate the earned return on effort. When you start to stretch and struggle to reach greater heights, it helps you build a strong foundation. If you feel discouraged, remember this proverb: "The work will teach you how to do it."

  • Pushing past your fears: Fear stops us from achieving peak performance because it keeps us from trying new things that would advance our goals. We don't want to fail, we don't want to look foolish in front of our peers, and we don't want to take chances when we don't have control over the outcomes. But that's when we can grow most! When we attack our fears, we ultimately diminish them. Belief in our abilities and actions is what gets us past our fears. As Mark Twain said, "Courage is resistance to fear, mastery of fear--not absence of fear."


  • Positive thinking: Our bodies will only follow what our minds direct. When we approach a project, a sales call or any other situation where we want to improve our performance, our attitude and mind-set will determine the outcome more than any other factor. To get into the right mind-set, start by following the first three steps mentioned earlier.

Once you've mastered these keys to peak performance, don't be surprised when they positively impact not only your sales efforts, but other aspects of your life as well.