The Acquisition of High Performance Habits
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 energisedConsider 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-mindedTo 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.
- The thought that all people have to agree with you
- The thought that you first need to be very skilful.
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
5. Find out what you are and stay true to itWhenever 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:
- Pilot, etc.
- 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?
- Exactly who you are
- Exactly what you need to do
6. Use your time wiselyWhen 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.