Have you thought about what it really takes to become a high-performance person? Have you ever wondered what makes top industry leaders in the world today so great? And how they can operate at levels the rest of society can’t even understand? 

What makes them so different?

The truth is they’re actually not that different than anyone else. They’re ordinary people that have developed the skills of a high-performer to produce extraordinary results. 

You probably know the people I’m talking about. Yes; I’m talking about people like Steve Jobs, Jack Ma, Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerburg, and Tony Robbins among many others. 

Unlike the rest of society, they have a very different way of looking at the world. They think about what kind of impact they want to have and how they can add more value.

With that mentality, they’re able to plant the seeds necessary to grow into the high-performers they are today. 

You see, most people are not conditioned to become top high-performers. They’re conditioned to live a life of mediocrity and settle for less. 

At some point in your life, you’ve probably heard people telling you, “Oh just go to school, get a high-paying job, get married, have kids, and then enjoy life.”

Notice how that scenario is very focused on your own self-interests. It’s all about me, me, me, me.

High-performance leaders do the exact opposite. They don’t think so much about their own self-interests but about what they can do to help other people, which requires them to upgrade themselves. 

So what foundation do you need to have in place to set yourself up for success? Here are 10 steps you can take to become a high-performance person. 

1. A High-Performance Person Always Asks Powerful Questions

Over the years, I’ve spent a lot of time studying top business leaders. And I noticed that unlike the rest of society, they like to ask powerful, thought-provoking questions. 

By asking questions, you’re forced to think about your own self-awareness. And how your thoughts, emotions, and actions align or don’t align with your values. 

If today was the last day of my life, would I be happy with what I'm about to do today? - Steve Jobs Click To Tweet

What’s interesting is that most people have very low levels of self-awareness. Why? Because they don’t think.

They’re those people that complain and whine about why they’re not successful and why they don’t have this or that. 

You’ll notice at first, they might be overly optimistic about the things they want to pursue.

And you might hear them say, “Oh, I’m going to start this business and by the end of the year, I’m going to make $100,000.” But then when it doesn’t work out the way they want it to, they just complain. 

High-performers think differently. They are what I like to call “realistic optimists”. They understand how to think accurately. 

It means they can look at a situation just the way it is. Not worse than it is. And not better than it is. But just as it is. Exactly how it appears. 

And to do that, I always like to ask myself three powerful questions: 

  • What could go wrong?
  • What don’t I know?
  • What don’t I see?

By asking myself these questions, I’m more aware of my downsides and I can effectively plan for it. So if something were to go wrong, I’ll know exactly how to handle it and my chances of success will be a lot higher.

2. High-Performers Think Ahead 

Usually around December, before the beginning of the new year, people are super busy shopping and going on their annual vacations with their family. And they don’t start planning for the new year until January. 

I notice time and time again that this method is very counterproductive. When you start planning in January, wouldn’t you agree that it takes a bit of time to get back in the zone? 

After vacation, most people need that buffer time to prepare and get back to work. For some, it takes a few days and for others maybe even a few weeks. 

They only start going back to their normal schedule and build momentum in February. Notice how they’ve just wasted a large chunk of their time. And yet, every year, they seem to repeat the same thing over and over again without realizing how much time they’re wasting. 

High-performance people don’t do that. Instead, they focus on how they can get ahead of schedule. So when everyone else is busy during the holidays, you want to already be planning for the new year and building up your momentum early. 

Let me give you an example. Personally, what I like to do is go on vacation, usually around October, when everyone else is working. And then, I do my planning and preparation for the new year when everyone else is busy going on vacation in December. 

With this method, I’m already ahead of schedule so I don’t need to waste time planning in January. I can just launch on day one and already be building that momentum. You see, when you approach your planning this way there is no time wasted. 

3. High-Performers Protect Their Time

If you want to become a high-performer, one of the most important things you need to do is protect your time. Eliminate all interruptions and distractions in your life. 

As you probably know, people are surrounded by so many distractions every single day. It could be unnecessary phone calls, instant messages, email notifications, social media posts, and more. 

But how can you perform at your best at any given time of the day if you’re interrupted with these distractions all the time?

Today, there are still entrepreneurs and CEOs out there that believe in an “open-door policy” which means their door is always open for people to come see them anytime. It’s a concept I understand but will never be able to do myself. Why?

Because it tells me one simple thing about all those entrepreneurs and CEOs. It tells me that they don’t value and respect their time. 

It means they’re getting interrupted multiple times every single day. And every time they get interrupted, it takes a certain amount of mental bandwidth to get back on track.

In fact, according to a study done by Gloria Mack, she found that 82 percent of all interrupted work is resumed on the same day but it takes an average of 23 minutes and 15 seconds to get back to the task.

So if you don’t know how to control distractions, the amount of time you waste accumulates very fast. Now, how do solve this problem? It’s very simple. 

When you’re working, unplug all communications. What I like to do is create an environment where people cannot reach me. And I’ll use that time to do my thinking, planning, and strategizing.

That’s the key. If people cannot find you, they cannot interrupt you. 

4. High-Performers Don’t Procrastinate

When it comes to high-performance, procrastination is almost always a topic of interest. Because like all the external distractions you get in your environment, you also have a bunch of internal distractions. And these are what I like to call your “inner demons.” 

They are the typical inner conflicts you have playing in your mind before doing a certain task. For example, let’s say I asked you to jog for half a mile. You might have these inner conflicts running through your mind:

“Ok, but first let me make sure I’m wearing the right shoe.”

“No, I need to make sure I’m not jogging too fast or it’ll feel like I’m running.”

“Wait, I can’t do this. What if I start landing on the balls of my feet and my calves get bigger?”

Does this sound familiar? You haven’t started jogging yet and already you’re having these conversations in your head.

These are the inner demons that fuel your procrastination. They are the reason a lot of people don’t get stuff done because they have too many of these inner conflicts going on in their heads. 

Everyone has them but some have more than others. I notice that many high-performance people have very little of these inner demons. And the key is not to feed them. 

If you give them power and nutrition, wouldn’t it make sense that you’ll have more of them? Likewise, if you don’t give them power, then the chances they will get in the way of your productivity will be very low. 

Learn How To Think Like A Squirrel

Your next question might be, “Ok, well, how do you control it and prevent them from getting in the way?”

Whenever you’re working on something and you catch yourself coming up inner conflicts, immediately take action and do the work.

Every time they come up, take immediate action. Because the longer you wait, the more power you give to them, which will lead to procrastination. Remember actions drive out thoughts.

John Eliot sums this up really well. He is the author of the book, Overachievement: The New Science Of Working Less To Accomplish More and he studies a lot of high-performers in society like athletes, executives, and politicians. And he talks about what makes them high-performers. 

He says they think like a squirrel. So imagine a squirrel on a tree branch getting ready to jump onto another tree branch.

If the squirrel operated like a human where their logical brain gets in the way of their natural instincts, what do you think would happen? 

Yes; they would probably die. If they hesitate before jumping they could easily lose their balance and fall off the tree. But that’s not the case here because they have a “trusting mindset.”

And that’s how high-performers operate. They trust in their abilities and just take action without the clutter of internal conflicts. 

5. High-Performers Are Laser-Beam Focused

Have you noticed how high-performers can produce a lot of results in minimum time? 

The reason is because they have the ability to stay laser-beam focused on productive activity.

There is a great quote from George Lucas. He says, “Your focus determines your reality.” Or another way of saying it is, “What you focus on expands.” 

So let’s say for example if you focus on problems. What do you think you will get? Yes; you’ll get more problems. If you focus on solutions, you will get more solutions. If you focus on inner conflicts, you will get more inner conflicts. 

In a day, you are probably surrounded by so many different issues and tasks you need to handle. And sometimes, it might be difficult for you to stay focused. So what can you do to make that process easier?

I always get asked this same question from so many people who follow my work, “Dan, how do you stay so focused and consistent?” To answer this question, let me give you some examples of things that I do. 

Make Your Environment Work For You, Not Against You

One thing I do that many people overlook is I pay attention to my environment. It’s a powerful way to level up your productivity and stay focused. 

Because if you think about it, you are a product of your environment. You are a product of the people in your circle. Think about your friends and the people you surround yourself with. How many of them are in a position you want to be in?

You want to make sure your environment works for you and not against you. What I like to do is surround myself with “wealth triggers” and arrange my office based on Feng Shui.

If you are familiar with my work, you’ll know that I’m a very firm believer in “wealth triggers.” I like to populate my workspace with objects that remind me to think in a certain way. Because I believe that your environment is more powerful than your willpower. 

Your environment is more powerful than your willpower. Click To Tweet

For example, if you were to take a look at my office, you’ll see that it’s full of different objects. I have a clock to remind me to value my time. A lion to represent courage and leadership.

In my desk drawers, I have cash to remind to think in abundance and many other wealth triggers everywhere in my home. 

If you think about a low-performance person and open their desk drawer and all you see are bills, what do you think they will attract? 

They will attract more bills, more stress, and more frustration in their life. This alone makes it very difficult to focus and be productive. 

Put Your Goals In Front Of You, Not Behind You

Another thing I do is, I make sure I have my goals in front of me where I can see them. Whatever priorities or goals I have, I will write them down on a piece of paper or on my whiteboard. 

When I set my environment up like this, I know exactly what I need to focus right off the bat. There is no thinking. There is no distraction. And there is no delay. All I have to do is go in and take action.

My goal is to make it as easy as possible for me to stay consistently focused without relying on my will-power or discipline. 

When I walk into my office, my goals and wealth triggers are the first few things I see. So I can’t help but feel more productive and more focused because of the way I intentionally set up my environment.  

6. High-Performers Understand Self-Management

Do you ever hear people say you need to learn time-management to be a high-performance person?

What they don’t understand is that time-management is ultimately self-management. It’s about managing yourself. Managing your priorities, your emotions, and not so much about managing your time. 

Time-management is ultimately self-management. Click To Tweet

10-Steps-You-Can-Take-To-Become-A-High-Performance-Person---Graphic-02

You see, many people rely on their to-do lists to get things done throughout the day. And there is nothing wrong with that. I also keep a to-do list.

But it’s important to remember that you don’t want to become a slave to your to-do list. Now, you might be wondering, what I mean by that?

Let me explain. 

High-performance people understand that self-management is about knowing what to do at any given moment. They know that apart from the priorities they’ve established for the day, they will face new problems and opportunities every day. 

So to stay focused on their goals and their purpose, they need to know how to effectively deal with all the different information being thrown at them on a daily basis. They have to filter out what’s important and what’s not so important. 

7. High-Performers Leverage Their Subconscious Mind

Leveraging your subconscious mind might be one of the most powerful, yet underused, strategies you can do to become a high-performance person. 

One way to start is by saying affirmations every single day. Now, you might be thinking, “Dan, this sounds like something I heard from the movie, The Secret, where you just wish for something and somehow it just falls in your lap.”

Close but not quite. It’s not so woo-woo as you might think. There is a purpose behind it and it’s what I learned from my mentor, Dan Pena. 

To clarify, affirmations are essentially specific goals that you turn into statements and you say them out loud as if they were true today. 

For example, let’s say one of your goals is to have $100,000 in your bank account in the next 6 months. Your affirmation could be, “I am excited and comfortable to know that I have an extra $100,000 in my bank account that I can use to provide for my family.”

By saying your affirmations every day, you are reprogramming your brain to believe your goals are possible. It puts you in a mindset where you have the belief you can do all the things necessary to materialize those goals. 

8. High-Performers Spend Time Alone

This might sound counterintuitive but, like affirmations, there is a powerful purpose behind it. If you go study high-performance people, you’ll notice they all have different ways to recharge their mind and body. 

For example, Bill Gates has 2 times a year and 7 days each time where he goes into the forest to spend time alone and away from the modern world. He calls this his “think week”. During this time, he is thinking, reading, and journaling. 

So why do high-performance people spend time alone by themselves?

Very often, people are so close to their issues that they don’t take enough time to think about the issue. In order to see the big picture, they need to take a step back and think, “What exactly is the problem here?”

This is one of the reasons why I like to take multiple vacations throughout the year because I need to put some space between what I do and who I want to become. And from there, I can figure out where I need to be. 

9. High-Performers Don’t Neglect Their Health and Well-Being

I cannot emphasize this step enough because, let’s face it, without taking care of your health and well-being, you are nothing. 

If you want to operate at optimum levels one of the most basic things you need to do is move your body. You’ve probably heard it hundreds of times.

Yes; it’s exercising and engaging in physical activity. That is how you create energy and keep your body in good health. 

As I mentioned earlier, I do not like to rely on my own discipline and motivation. So what I like to do is “integrate” physical activity and other things for my health into my daily life.

For instance, when I am teaching one of my classes, I am walking on my treadmill. When I’m closing on a phone call, I am sitting on my massage chair to get a massage at the same time.

I sign-up and pre-pay for annual martial arts membership classes to make sure I attend each class. Every morning, I start my day off with gratitude by listening to my “Attitude of Gratitude” video.

You see, when you can integrate these things into your life. It becomes a habit. And it’s a part of who you are. 

10. High-Performers Invest In Themselves

The final step to becoming a high-performance person is to always have a thirst for learning. After all, that’s what life is about, isn’t it?

It’s about encountering problems, learning from them, growing every year, and enjoying life at the same time. But to be a better learner, I need to surround myself with people I can learn from.

10-Steps-You-Can-Take-To-Become-A-High-Performance-Person---Graphic-04

So as a leader in my organization, I’m fortunate to have formed a high-performance team where we are constantly investing in ourselves. We’re always learning and bouncing ideas off each other. 

Without my team and my systems in place, it would be far more challenging for me to operate at the level I operate today. So for that, I am always grateful to them. 

“You Have No Idea What High-Performance Really Is…”

That is what my mentor, Dan Pena, said to me at the Guthrie Castle. He said, “You think you’re working hard? No. You’re not working hard. You have no idea.”

Back when I attended the 7-day seminar at the Guthrie Castle for the first time. One night, I was walking towards the kitchen around 11 pm and passed by Dan’s office.

I’ve never seen his office before, so I peeked in and saw him working on his computer.

Out of curiosity, I asked, “Oh, Dan, you’re still up working late at night?”

He looked up from his computer and said, “Well, all you guys are all filthy, stinking rich. I’ve got to make a living to support this place.” 

And then he said, “Get out.” And went back to work. 

The work ethic that I saw in him that night, still going at his age, cemented in my mind what high-performance really meant. 

Most people think they’ve achieved a lot in life when they really haven’t achieved much at all.

And when I say hard work, I’m not just talking about manual labor. I’m talking about mental labor where you are using your brain and you’re thinking. 

For example, you could be closing where you’re picking up the phone to close deals. Or you could be doing business where you’re meeting up with potential prospects and discussing things with them. Or maybe you’re doing marketing where you’re writing ads, getting traffic, generating leads, and converting sales. 

All those things are what I would consider hard work. 

If you want to become a high-performer, you need to raise your standards. Demand more from yourself.

There’s so much more potential and so much more you can squeeze out of your performance than you may realize.

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