7 Steps to Peak Performance in Business and in Life
Believe it, you really do reap what you sow.
Most entrepreneurs are high performers, but let’s face it, performance just isn’t enough. Our competitors are high performers too. And many times, they have more resources at their disposal. To come out ahead, we need to be peak performers. We need to find another gear or two. In my decades of either working in the ranks of or coaching peak performers, I have observed seven steps in the process, no matter what industry you’re in. Here’s how to do it:
Step 1: Diligence.
Diligence means to be attentive and persistent in doing something, steadily applied determination, active, unremitting, untiring, constancy of effort, speed and earnestness, and being meticulous. On the flip side, the opposite of diligence is lazy, careless, lethargy, indifference and apathy. I don't know about you, but I can easily identify times that I have taken my foot off the gas when I shouldn't have.
The thing about diligence is that we cannot be diligent in everything. We don't have the time, energy, resources or strength to be unremitting in everything in life. We must prioritize what we will be diligent in. We must decide to be diligent in the activities that bring us the highest return on the investment of our time, energy and resources. We can't be attentive and persistent in very many things at once, so choose wisely.
Step 2: Conviction.
Conviction means an absolute certainty -- to be sure, to be confident, to have no doubt. The opposite of conviction is disbelief, distrust, doubt, misgiving, skepticism, suspicion, uncertainty, to be unsure, lacking in confidence and fear. If you are experiencing any of these things on the flip side of conviction, stop right now and take an honest assessment of what it is you are doing and why. You may already be heavily invested in your business or your profession, so you think it's too late. It’s only too late if you say it is. (And it's much easier to go through the honest assessment before you heavily invest some a business or profession.)
If you are in the middle of a bad investment decision, extracting yourself is going to be uncomfortable and possibly painful. But in the end, if you don't have a firm and solid conviction about what you are doing, and whom you are doing it with, it's going to be more painful in the long run to stay put. This includes jobs, careers and business ventures, as well as relationships.
Step 3: Courage.
I don't know about you, but I'm very courageous while I'm sitting on my couch, getting ready to do what needs to be done, like making a sales call to that mammoth prospect. As soon as I pick up the phone to do it, I’m suddenly distracted by an urgent weather notification. Courage means being bold, brave and fearless, especially in battle and valor. The opposite of courage is cowardice, fear, timid, fainthearted, shrinking, shy, skittish, retreating and subdued -- which brings me back to that phone call. I found all those things screaming to the surface as soon as I picked up the phone and started to punch in the numbers.
If you're anything like me, you can understand how I would almost rather get shot at than make that phone call. No matter how many times I would tell myself to man-up, I'd still be mentally hiding under my desk when it was time to follow-up on a sales lead. Why? How can I overcome this? I'm glad you asked. That will be covered in the next step.
Step 4: Knowledge.
Knowledge means information about the inner workings of things, especially info gained through observation, identification, description, investigation, experience and explanation. In short, we must do some work to gain knowledge of our particular field or profession. By way of a personal example, I lacked knowledge of marketing and sales, so I had to do something to gain information on the inner workings of that business. I didn't know what to do, how to do it or when to do it. I bought books, read articles and blogs, and I hired a marketing/sales coach. I had to act to gain this specific knowledge. Nobody was beating down my door force-feeding knowledge to me.
The opposite of knowledge is ignorance, unawareness, incomprehension, incapacity which results in weakness, helplessness and being powerless. That described me perfectly when it came to marketing and sales. If, during your honest assessment, you find yourself in this state, get to work and start looking for the specific knowledge you need to solve your problem. Start with your favorite search engine, and you'll get more information than you can handle. Digital courses are a good start, but you will need to find someone in the real world to help you get experience. Don't skip over that because it is way more effective to learn with a coach or mentor.
Step 5: Self discipline.
Self discipline means correction or regulation of oneself for the sake of improvement. You can't be careless, unattentive, easily distracted, negligent, slack, apathetic or go into things half-hearted. Self discipline hinges on your commitment level to whatever it is you are trying to accomplish. To illustrate commitment, I look at my breakfast plate of eggs and bacon. The chicken is involved in my breakfast by offering the eggs. The pig is committed to my breakfast by offering itself.
Step 6: Patience.
Patience is the quality that refuses to give up. It means that you are unmovable, established, rooted, grounded, settled and focused. Patience is the quality that keeps your conviction's feet to the fire when going after your target. Remember, your target is realized through conviction and patience working together. Your belief that you can accomplish what you set out to do will be tested, tried and put through the fire. When those days of adversity come, when obstacles raise their ugly heads in your path to victory -- that's when you break out your patience. It's the quality in you that says, "I'm all in. It's win or die trying."
Step 7: Love and goodwill.
Without love and goodwill, you will never become a peak performer. We've all been in a position, whether at work, on the field of play or at a social event, where we were on the receiving end of ill-will, coldness, antipathy or even open hostility. We all know that we should treat others as we want to be treated -- with respect, courtesy and kindness. We should shower those around us with love and goodwill whenever possible, for purely selfish reasons. Yes, you read it right. No matter how you phrase the law of planting and harvesting, it's still a law, and it'll take you out if you are on the wrong side of it.
I've heard it said, "you reap what you sow," "what comes around, goes around," and my all-time favorite, "the karma bus might run slow, but it always makes all the stops." However it's phrased, it's a universal law and a guarantee. Love and goodwill or courtesy and kindness costs you nothing but pays huge dividends. There is no better investment out there based on returns.
Andrew D. Wittman, PhD, is a United States Marine Corps infantry combat veteran, a former police officer and federal agent. As a Special Agent for the U.S. Capitol Police, Wittman led the security detail for Nancy Pelosi and has personally protected Hillary Clinton, Tom Delay, Trent Lott, King Abdullah of Jordan, Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel, Sir Elton John, as well as Fortune 20 CEOs. As a security contractor for the State Department, he taught high-threat diplomatic security to former Navy SEALS, Marines, Rangers, and Special Forces.
Wittman is founder of the Mental Toughness Training Center, a leadership consultancy specializing in peak performance, team dynamics, resolving conflict in the workplace and is the author of the new book, Ground Zero Leadership: CEO of You (2016). He holds a Ph.D. in Theological Studies, is a guest lecturer at Clemson University and co-hosts the radio call-in show “Get Warrior Tough.”