Name anyone of notable success, and you instantly associate them with “high performance”. People with a succession of wins behind them, who are simply just good at what they do. People with academic or physical ability, or in some cases both. The first question many ask is, “What did they do to get where they are?” Now, there are two answers that people are typically looking for. The first one is the answer that involves a simple process resulting in the desired outcome. “Here’s how you make more money”. “Here’s how you perform better.” or whatever the desired outcome may be. The other answer is more granular. It requires time, it involves discipline, action, and it involves intent. The two types of answers sought are often reflective of the person seeking them. The latter being the one most don’t want to hear, as it involves hard work. In searching for answers, we are inevitably looking for those innate qualities that others just don’t have and the qualities that help them stand out from the crowd. Although we can’t produce a comprehensive list of such characteristics, there are a few that we are here to talk about today. You see, whilst inherited DNA may play some part, the ability to succeed isn’t something you’re born with. It isn’t something that will just be given to you or granted by luck or chance. It’s something that is worked for. Something that is the outcome of numerous consistent and habitual actions. Thomas Edison once said: Genius is 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration. In other words, it takes deliberate effort to scale the heights of success. In this piece, we’ll discuss seven high-performance habits you probably need to cultivate.

1. Stay energised

Consider how you feel on the first working day of a new year. You have this resolve to make the day count. You have milestones in your to-do list and goals you want to get accomplished. Somewhere in the course of the coming days though, you lose focus and direction. The proverbial snooze button starts to get hit. You start scrolling through social media feeds, forgetting to drink water, your healthy snacks slowly revert to what once was, and before long you’re back to what you were doing before. This is especially true when you have to move from one task to another, or from meeting to meeting. It becomes quite challenging to start on the next task, or they simply blur into each other. Juggling multiple tasks at once, never really completing one before moving onto the next. That has nothing to do with your lack of motivation. What you need to do is to master your transitions. Do it in such a manner that provides all your strength and concentration on all tasks you have to handle for the day. Instead of struggling to move from one activity or task to the other, have a schedule in which you include some sort of psychological break. Take a short breather. Something that enables you just to relax or switch off and recharge for a moment. At HMN 24, we advise our team members to take a 15-20 minute walk mid-morning and mid-afternoon, for this reason precisely. Close your eyes for 10 minutes, maybe do some breath work and allow your mind to wander to somewhere other than work. Now move to the next task and note the difference. Do this as often as you can throughout the day.

2. Be more productive and single-minded

To be a high performer, resolve to only work on those things that matter. Indulge yourself in the task at hand completely. When you multitask, your mind jumps from one task to another without spending enough time at either to complete them with the required precision. In 1996 company sales at Apple had dropped by 30% and they were saddled by huge financial losses and on the verge of collapse. Steve Jobs was brought back in as CEO, reviewing the firm’s extensive product line, he reduced Apple products by a whopping 70%, allowing the company to concentrate on only four products. His actions were justified a year later when the firm raked in more than 300 million dollars in profit. How many things do you focus on? Is there a possibility to cut them to become more single-minded and focus on what matters the most?

3. Courageously take that first step

“The richest place is the graveyard!” So said Les Brown. “It is there you find all the hopes and dreams that were never fulfilled”. But why? They never mustered the courage to take that first step. To be successful in life, you need to overcome three major mental obstacles that make the first step impossible.
  • The thought that the situation has to be perfect before taking any action.
Not to disappoint you, but the situation will never be perfect. Get some insight from Mark Zuckerberg’s founding of Facebook. It wasn’t in a fully furnished office, nor a posh home - but just after he dropped out of college after brushing shoulders with the Havard authorities. Now billions of people marvel at the giant it has become.
  • The thought that all people have to agree with you
No matter how noble your idea, you will always face some kind of opposition. Not only from the public but family and friends alike. What matters in such cases is your conviction. Is your idea valid? Then go for it.
  • The thought that you first need to be very skilful.
You don’t learn by waiting. You learn by doing. So take the first step and acquire the skills you need as you go along. And that brings us to our next point.

4. Never stop learning

“Why are books so boring?” When this thread on Reddit kicked off, it soon became apparent that those who find books boring have most likely been over-exposed to visual hyper-stimulating media, to the extent that their attention spans have nearly died. Whether or not the environment has shaped you that way, know this one thing: readers are leaders. You need to get out of your way and pursue self-improvement. Not to imply that you can only achieve this through reading books. Why not consider:
  • Getting a subscription on Audible and listening to books.
  • Getting a mentor or a coach
  • Listening or watching podcasts centred on success and self-improvement
You would think that the current great achievers have all the knowledge and that suffices. No way. Cristiano Ronaldo, despite being one of the best players in the world, uttered these famous words, “I have played football all my life, and I keep learning new things. Follow suit. Increase your knowledge on a daily basis.

5. Find out what you are and stay true to it

Whenever motivational speakers visit schools, the first question they often ask is, “What do you want to become?” At that age, most of the answers are focused on a definite career path:
  • Doctor
  • Engineer
  • Pilot, etc.
Always focused on an outcome. That's how we are tuned. No one states that they want to learn more about treating general medical conditions, cardiology, dermatology, ophthalmology, geriatrics or neurology in the hope of one day becoming a doctor. In response to that answer, would we not be best served to then start teaching the appropriate skills for the desired outcome? Think about yourself as a child in the classroom. What's the outcome you want and what are all the micro wins you need to achieve in order to get there? The doctor who runs a clinic with a fixed salary is then running a hotel as a sideline, and various other sidelines realising that the goal perhaps wasn’t to become a doctor, but it was, in fact, to achieve the quality of life generally associated with that of being a doctor. Not to say that people don’t have other motives, but almost everyone is chasing a better quality of life, based on their definition of what that is. Get clarity on your goals, then focus on:
  • What matters most?
  • What is the most needful thing to be done?
  • Is it necessary for me to handle this?
  • Can I delegate this to someone else?
Always ask yourself these questions and not just rhetorically, answer each one of them appropriately. The outcome is that your vision becomes clearer and clearer. You get to know:
  • Exactly who you are
  • Exactly what you need to do
And then you can stay true to that.

6. Use your time wisely

When on the job, you notice how fast time flies. You hardly have time to get all the assignments done. It is R. L. Adams who said “It’s not about how much time you have. It’s about how effectively you manage your time.” As human beings, we are strictly allotted 24 hours per day. No more, no less. Each of us is blessed with different responsibilities in that time period. Some of us are parents, leaders, instructors, civil servants. We need to manage our phases and stages of life and account for all our time. Try assigning different tasks, varying time slots and time limits. Not just in your mind, put it down on paper.
  • Use sticky notes
  • Create schedules in your journal
  • Prioritise the tasks at hand
  • Use a to-do list.
What you want to avoid is being a busy fool - always running up and down but achieving so little by the end of the day. More so, don’t be a workaholic. Give your body time between tasks to have some rest. As previously mentioned, taking a rest energizes you for the next task.

7. Help others

Successful people are always looking for avenues and opportunities to help others. Don’t be the kind of person who always wants to get helped. Go out of your way to help someone else without caring about what’s in it for you. Be mindful of other people’s needs - not just your own. Deliberately spare your time to cater to their needs. Share your knowledge with others, share your resources and give your honest feedback when asked to. Often successful people simply find joy in helping others. It is not at all a burden to them. You see, helping others helps build up your success. The helping mentality comes from a proactive mentality. Winston Churchill said, “We make a living by what we give, not what we get.” By helping others, you also create lasting bonds, and you create all-important networks of people. People who, one day may come to your assistance. We see this in Adam Khoo, one of the richest forex traders in the world today. A doubter once asked him on social media, “If you are getting all that money, why are you into teaching beginners for free on YouTube? Isn’t this a way to swindle them of their hard-earned cash? The answer surprised many: “It is just in my heart to help others become what I am.”

What then?

There is a reason why successful people remain successful year after year. It never happens by chance. These people have mastered a set of habits that set them above the competition. They have intent, they are disciplined, and they act on things that are important. They don’t stop at average. They put their best effort into whatever they do. They willfully accept failure as part of the journey and use it to learn from, and more than anything, their mindset remains positive.