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Finding Your 'Stress Sweet Spot' to Perform at Your Best A new book explores the amount of stress needed for you to function at your highest level.

By Vanessa Van Edwards

This story appears in the September 2017 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »

Christian Gralingen

When you hear the term "peak performer," what do you think of? Odds are it's someone who routinely operates under intense stress, getting the job done regardless of the difficulties. We think of athletes, lawyers, astronauts. But in their groundbreaking recent book The Leading Brain, researchers Friederike Fabritius and Hans W. Hagemann offer a more nuanced take on what it means to be a peak performer. To Fabritius and Hagemann, peak performance doesn't necessarily mean thriving amid intense stress. Instead, it means finding your sweet spot -- the amount of stress (or using their term, "arousal") that allows you to function at your highest level.

Related: 3 Ways to Manage Stress and Recharge Your Life

If you're the kind of person who flourishes when a colleague calls in sick and you have to take their place at a presentation, and you produce your best work under the pressure of tight deadlines, then your optimal arousal level is high. If you prefer to work in a highly controlled environment and are overwhelmed by last-minute changes and intense pressure, then your optimal arousal level is low.