Achieving peak performance is the main goal for the world’s elite athletes.
Why not make it your goal, too? All-star athletes and business all-stars have more in common than sheer luck or natural talent.
They use peak performance secrets, and the habits of highly successful people.
Techniques employed by high performance coaching for the world’s highest paid athletes are the best-of-the-best.
Business all-stars use similar peak performance secrets. Harnessing these methods and implementing them in your life, to reach your goals, will help you unlock the secrets of success.All-star athletes and business all-stars have more in common than sheer luck or natural talent. They use peak performance secrets, and the habits of highly successful people. Click To Tweet
In his literature review of peak performance, Greg Wells, Ph.D. said, “Peak performance is a state that is also known as peak experience, the zone of optimal functioning and flow. It refers to a moment when an individual puts it all together, when they are in the zone, when everything flows, and when they achieve an exceptional performance.”
Wells summarizes this by adding, “Peak performance is a state of exceptional functioning.”
I believe that this state of exceptional functioning applies not only to athletes, but also to entrepreneurs and any human being with the goal of expediting their personal development.
Peak Performance Secrets of All-Star Athletes
In his research paper on peak performance, Greg Wells, Ph.D. went over some of the common peak performance secrets employed by all-star athletes.
Wells noted that what was most commonly found of all the highest performing athletes included “quality training, clear daily goals, daily use of internal imagery, and systematic mental preparation for competition.”
His research also found that these athletes often engaged in positive self-talk, had high self-confidence, and a low fear of failure.
In other words, believing in yourself is key.
But what Wells also found when using research from Mihaly Csikszentmihaly, one of the pioneers of the scientific study of happiness, was that peak performance and flow in athletes requires being centered, controlled, and focused.
Wells sums up that this peak focus “involves the centering of attention, total immersion in the activity, clear demands for action, unambiguous feedback, merging of action and awareness, feelings of being in control, and intrinsic rewards.”
Doesn’t this sound a lot like what a successful entrepreneur would need to do to achieve their business goals?
Just like the world’s highest paid athletes must know how to reach peak performance, so do the world’s highest paid consultants.
Let’s discuss what any person looking to achieve peak performance should know if they have any hope of reaching this optimal level of functioning.
The Relationship Between Peak Performance and Dopamine
Dopamine is the brain’s feel-good neurotransmitter. When the brain releases dopamine, we feel amazing. But does achieving peak performance always lead to a significant release of dopamine? Not exactly.
When I think of peak performance, I personally think of reaching a major business goal. But did you know that for many people, reaching these types of goals doesn’t actually trigger that much dopamine?
The unfortunate truth is that for many people, there isn’t much of a relationship between achieving a business goal, and getting a hit of dopamine.
You’d think there would be, but many entrepreneurs get a higher hit of dopamine from doing things that are not related to their goals at all, such as eating junk food or playing video games.
But what if your performance goals could trigger that kind of dopamine release? Is that possible? Or are we all going to continue to seek out chocolate cake and the hot new series on Netflix for dopamine hits, instead of focusing on our goals?
Alex Becker, an entrepreneur known for founding multiple 7 and 8 figure companies, points out in a YouTube video, “Nothing feels better to your body than dopamine,” and goes on to explain, “If you know how to trigger dopamine and attach it to your goals, you can drag yourself through glass and fire to achieve those goals.”
Becker explains unless you retrain your brain, your body is just going to continue following the dopamine trails it knows feel good.
However, the things that feel good and release dopamine often have nothing to do with what you logically want.
Logical Rewards Don’t Motivate Most People, But There’s a Solution
Becker explains that the reason the logical version of you, who wants to achieve success in business, lose weight, and make healthy choices, often doesn’t win. Why? Because your animal brain seeks instant gratification.
Logical rewards don’t motivate most people, because they let their animal instincts take over.
The way I’ll explain this, is that for many of you, logic takes a back seat when the animalistic version of yourself sees a straight path to dopamine via a video game or a slice of cake, for example.
Your animal mode ignores logic and prevents you from peak performance because it seeks that easy path to dopamine.
Becker points out that your animal brain is what makes it so easy for you to play a video game for 12 hours straight, and feel good about it, even though you could have used those 12 hours being productive and make money.
There is Rarely a Connection Between Motivation and What You Actually Want to Accomplish
Typically, there is no connection between a human being’s motivation and what they actually want to achieve.
If we were motivated by logic, we’d all be spending hours at the gym during our free time instead of spending hours watching TV or gaming.
Motivation is a feeling. We are motivated by what feels good.
Can you can get a dopamine hit by walking to the corner store to get some booze or junk food?
Yes, you can, and you might very well do that instead of walking to the gym – no matter how motivated you are to lose weight. For many people, the idea of getting that dopamine hit is powerful enough to cause us to sabotage our real, logical goals.
Becker explains that dopamine is so powerful, it can get rats to electrocute themselves, if it means they’ll get a dopamine hit.
The rats in the study he’s referring to were motivated to get the dopamine hit, so much so that they were willing to self-inflict harm, and hurt themselves to get it.
I want you to recognize that what you actually want in life – for example to grow your own successful business – is a desire of your logical brain.
Your animal brain doesn’t care about logic; it is only motivated by what feels good. It simply follows the habitual dopamine trails that are easily available.
Why do you think so many people are unmotivated when it comes to going to the gym or working on a business proposal?
Because they’d rather be watching TV and eating junk food, getting that easy instant gratification and dopamine release.
Let’s discuss this phenomenon further, and go through some of the most important points Becker has made.
What is Your Animal Brain, and Why Doesn’t it Care About Your Goals?
We all have two ways of thinking, which are often at odds with each other.
The logical brain vs the animal brain.
Your logical brain is smart and cares about your goals, ideals, and priorities.
However, the logical brain has willpower that is easily depleted, which can be a big problem for those who want to achieve peak performance.
The animal brain is simple – stupid, even – it’s only goal is to feel good.
Your animal brain is literally just looking for a quick and easy hit of dopamine, and it doesn’t care where the dopamine comes from.
I want you to imagine that I’ve just handed you a $100 bill. You would get a dopamine hit.
Your animal brain would like that. Your logical brain would like that too, and would start thinking of how to best spend the money.
But now, imagine that I let you play a game on my phone, and you won an imaginary $100. Guess what? Your animal brain would like that just as much – the dopamine hit is the same.
Your logical brain would realize that it’s meaningless to win an imaginary $100 via a stupid game.
However, since your animal brain liked winning that game, you might download that game when you got home, and keep playing it in your spare time, instead of growing your business or doing things that could make you real money.
The point is, your animal brain doesn’t differentiate between healthy or unhealthy ways to achieve a feel-good dopamine hit.
The Animal Brain Looks for the Easiest Way to Get a Dopamine Hit
Like I said, your animal brain doesn’t differentiate between good or bad ways to achieve a feel-good dopamine hit.
It just wants to find the easiest path to get it. This is why you eat the cake, even though your logical brain would much rather lose a few pounds than have cake.
Your animal brain is also the reason why some entrepreneurs play video games instead of working. They’ll game for hours even though they have clients willing to pay them to get work done.
The animal brain sees a lengthier and more challenging path to dopamine, such as losing a few pounds and feeling proud.
However, the animal brain also sees an easy path to dopamine, like having a slice of cake. It will always choose the easiest path to feeling good. The animal brain doesn’t care about actually getting to the point of success, and often when we get there the feeling is quite numb.
The animal brain just wants to follow the dopamine trail, and it has infinite willpower.
Your Animal Brain VS Your Logical Brain
If you’ve ever wondered why you spend several hours a day playing video games, or on your phone, or watching TV, when it doesn’t actually benefit your life, or bring you any closer to your goals, maybe now you get it.
We all have goals but it’s not always easy making them a priority, and that’s largely because we succumb to our animal brain.
Since the animal brain has infinite willpower when it comes to pursuing hits of dopamine from doing things that feel good, we all waste time on social media, TV, and video games.
When it comes to our real priorities – in business, health, or personal lives – many of us tend to procrastinate.
Many of us fail to put in the time and effort. Unlocking the reasons why we spend time on what doesn’t matter instead of what does matter, will reveal the secrets to peak performance.
Becker explains that you can get a huge dopamine hit from going up a level in a video game, but you have to wait a long time to get a dopamine hit from achieving results in business.
What does this mean?
It means that even if your logical brain knows that you have tons of potential to grow your business, you’re still more likely to pick up that PS4 controller and game for hours than open your laptop and work for hours.
Becker explains that if you haven’t trained your animal brain to be triggered by your actual goals, “Your body is going to default to doing that unproductive thing that gives you that quick dopamine boost. . . Your body is not likely to delay gratification.”
What’s the solution? Keep reading if you want to learn how to make the switch, and train your brain to want to spend time on your peak performance goals instead.
Applying Your Animal Mode to Something Productive
Animal mode (often referred to as ‘beast mode’) is the mode you’re in when you’re full of energy, playing video games for 12 hours straight. Does that sound familiar?
Like we just discussed, your animal brain can get a quick fix of dopamine by playing a video game or having a few beers. So how do you train yourself to work towards long-term goals where the dopamine fix would be delayed?
Alex Becker literally threw his PS4 in his swimming pool. He destroyed it so that his animal brain would no longer be able to get a dopamine hit from video games.
He destroyed it in order to get his animal brain hooked on something else.
There are other ways to destroy your habitual dopamine fixes, for example by not keeping any junk food or alcohol in the house.
Peak performance can be achieved when you harness your animal brain’s infinite willpower, by applying your animal mode to your goals.
By doing so, you’ll be more naturally inclined to prioritize valuable goals such as learning a new high income skill, going to the gym, and growing your business.
If you do the math, two hours per day on your phone browsing social media adds up to 730 hours per year, which is over four months of full-time work.
Imagine if you had been spending even half that time on your business goals. Where you would be by now?
If you’re a video game addict, you probably spend more than two hours per day gaming. You probably don’t want me to do the math on that or point out how much time you’ve wasted.
What chooses time-wasters instead of what doing what really matters? The animal brain. Understanding it, and harnessing its power, is the key to peak performance and success.
Your New Dopamine Hit: Increasing Your Perceived Value
Proving yourself to your community and increasing your perceived value could be your new dopamine trail.
Becker explains that one way to increase your value is to make progress, get more skilled in your field, and compare yourself to masters in your industry to motivate yourself.
“The need to prove yourself can be a very powerful motivator,” says Becker.
Becker explains that you should try picturing other people viewing you in that higher position.
Imagining others suddenly perceiving you as having a higher value is pretty motivating, right?
Keep the dopamine trail going by achieving small steps towards your goal, ie. achieving small goals along the way.
These are little hits of dopamine, and documenting your progress helps you get those dopamine hits.
“You’re going to do whatever your dopamine triggers are attached to,” explains Becker, and he explains that you can train your brain to get dopamine hits from achieving real goals.
Why? Because achieving these goals can increase your perceived value. Achieving something in business that elevates your status, results in a dopamine release.
Give yourself little treats along the way. Little hits of dopamine.
Writing a to-do list helps because when you check something off the list, you feel good. You’ve made progress. You are using your animal brain here to stay motivated.
What are some other ways to give yourself treats for sticking with your goals?
If your goal is healthy eating, buy something indulgent that’s within your goal. This might be a fine cut of meat, fancy tea, etc.
If your goal is to start up your own website, get yourself a delicious coffee every time you work on it. Make sure your workspace is perfectly comfortable and inviting.
These things will engage your animal brain to work with you, not against you.
Are You Hungry for Success?
Top performers are the people who are truly hungry for success. I often ask my mentees, “How hungry are you for success?”
Some people want success. They may even wish for success. But they aren’t hungry for it.
Those who want success must be hungry for it. Those who are the hungriest for success achieve it, because they’re the ones willing to make real sacrifices.
They’re the ones who will truly commit to their dreams. If you aren’t hungry for wealth and success, you probably won’t become wealthy or successful.
You can’t be complacent. You have to want success more than you want to play video games, watch Netflix, or sit at home eating junk food.
Some people want success. They may even wish for success. But they aren't hungry for it. Those who are the hungriest for success achieve it, because they’re the ones willing to make real sacrifices. Click To Tweet
I became successful because I was hungry for it. That means I was willing to sacrifice today’s pleasures for tomorrow’s rewards.
I believe that you can retrain your brain to be hungry for success, not junk food.
Excited for success, and not excited to get to the next level of your video game.
Peak performance is possible when you’re truly hungry for success because hunger drives success. Hunger is your ultimate competitive advantage.
Self-limiting beliefs will destroy your chances of reaching peak performance.
Many of the world’s top-performing athletes attribute their performance to their level of confidence. You can’t get down on yourself.
Self-doubt is going to cause your downfall. Negative thoughts might sabotage your success.
That’s why people who suffer from imposter syndrome and have low self-esteem tend to struggle in their performance.
Write positive affirmations on post-it notes and stick them all over your apartment if you have to.
I don’t care how you do it, just stop believing that you can’t, and start believing that you can.
Peak performance requires a positive attitude because if you don’t think you can perform, you’re much less likely to be able to perform.
Time Management Techniques of Highly Productive People
There are so many different time management strategies out there, but I’ll tell you a few of my favorites.
I like to set daily goals. Sometimes I manage my time by having specific goals planned for the day, even for different parts of the day.
For example, there could be something that must be done by noon. And another project that must be finished by 5pm, etc.
I reward myself when the goal is met. That is when I’m allowed to pick up my phone and check my social media, or go for a coffee break.
These daily goals set out each day are part of a productive person’s routine.
Weekly goals are too broad and allow you to have too much flexibility to procrastinate until week’s end. It doesn’t work.
Another thing that doesn’t always work is multitasking.
Is it better to focus on one task at a time? For many people, the answer is yes. It might be best to give your all to one task at a time.
I manage my time by ensuring that I stay focused. I listen to brain music, do you know what I mean by that? Classical music or cinematic music helps you focus.
It also has a mood-boosting impact that makes you want to perform better and be efficient.
How to Set Goals and Stick to Them
Take a moment to think about your top three goals, in each of the top three categories of life that are most important to you. For example, what are your top three goals in career, health, and personal growth? Below are some examples of goals you might have in each category:
Career: Start my own business
Health: Lose 10 pounds
Personal Growth: Develop more self-confidence
If you’re like most people, you truly care about your goals, and you think of them often.
Usually thinking about them stirs up a twinge of guilt if you haven’t taken enough action to achieve them.
Can you relate to the guilt from noticing that days or weeks have passed by without having done anything to move your closer to your goals? That’s why listing out action items is so important.
If you want to achieve your goals, every day you should have at least one action item on your to-do list.
At least one action item per day that you achieve. A series of action items will ultimately result in the accomplishment of your goal.
Another thing to be cognizant of is whether or not your goal is achievable.
Choose approaches that work for you, and that are realistic for you to stick to.
When you create action items, create ones that you can follow through on. Most importantly, bring your attention to your goal every day.
Write your goals down, and put them somewhere you’re bound to see them.
Some people write their goals down and stick them to their fridge with a magnet. Others pin their goals to their home office’s bulletin board.
Your Work Space Must Look and Feel Good
When you think about making working from home more productive for you, what do you think of?
You probably think about the importance of having a clean, well-lit, nice work space.
Logically, you probably know that you need a decluttered, clean area to work within. You don’t want your brain to be overstimulated with a bunch of mess or clutter all around you while you work.
My work space is very clean and organized. It’s also surrounded by wealth triggers. I like to put things on my shelves that symbolize my dreams and remind me of what I’m working towards.
Peak Performance Secret: Set a Deadline
I want you to think of a realistic goal, and a realistic timeline for achieving it.
What is holding you back from achieving it? For one thing, you need to set a deadline for yourself. For example, if your deadline is 6 weeks, then you’ll need to have action items for each week leading up to your deadline.
If you have bad habits that are hindering your ability to meet your goals, it’s helpful to be aware of those bad habits.
Examples of performance-hindering habits include procrastination, and perfectionist tendencies.
A sub-goal should be to work on changing those habits.
Choose a behaviour that is impacting your ability to reach your goal, and work on it every day.
If playing video games is one of the behaviors hindering your productivity, pull an Alex Becker and destroy your PS4. (Or, maybe just donate it to a thrift store.)
The Power of a Deadline and Daily Action Steps
Why is setting a deadline so powerful?
Let’s take weight loss or general physical health as an example. Many have the goal to exercise more.
Let’s make it a specific short term goal.
Try writing down, “Starting next month, I will exercise four times per week.”
I know you’ll be tempted to say every day, rather than four times per week. But it’s best to keep it realistic and achievable.
You will become more motivated when you succeed and hit your target, so a great peak performance secret is to start small, so that you don’t get discouraged.
Create an achievable target, so that you get that little hit of dopamine.
Divide your goal into weeks. Week one goal: Do one work out. Week 2: Two workouts, Week 3: Three workouts, Week 4: Four workouts and then keep at it from there.
Set something achievable at first, so that you build momentum, and get that dopamine fix.
You also need to have a daily goal.
Let’s use the weight loss example again. You need to be doing something every day that works towards your goal of exercising four times per week.
Perhaps one day, you simply research group fitness classes in your area. Another day, you make a plan by picking up the phone and calling to reserve a spot in a fitness class.
Every day, choose an action item that can be done that day, to reach your goal.
The key here is record keeping, a technique borrowed from elite athletes. Record keeping is when you write down every action item that you accomplish.
What World-Class Athletes Can Teach Us About Success and Entrepreneurship
World-class athletes such as Bruce Lee, Serena Williams, and Michael Jordan can teach us a lot about success and entrepreneurship.
Bruce Lee was known for the thousands of hours he dedicated to perfecting his skills as a martial artist. He was legendary because of his relentless commitment to ongoing training and practice.
Bruce Lee believed in the importance of practicing to achieve peak performance, and he had a peak performance secret.
His secret was narrowing his focus. Lee narrowed his focus to one specific martial arts move at a time. He practiced that specific skill over and over until it he mastered it.
Pro tennis player Serena Williams is known for her unique version of keeping her eye on the ball.
She gets in the zone by focusing on the ball so intently, that space and time becomes irrelevant. Williams believes that the steady gaze on the ball just before and during her strike, is the type of focus that makes all the difference.
Many world-class athletes have become entrepreneurs, including Serena Williams and LeBron James.
Their performance abilities in sports translated to performance abilities in business.
Serena Williams has invested in over 30 startup companies over the past several years. She launched a clothing line, S by Serena, in 2018. Her and sister Venus Williams are partial owners of the Miami Dolphins and the UFC.
LeBron James is the co-founder of Uninterrupted, a social media platform that connects athletes with fans.
He’s also the co-founder of production company SpringHill Entertainment, and a part-owner of Blaze Pizza.
One of Lebron James’ most impressive business accomplishments is that he signed a lifetime deal with Nike. Last year, in 2018, he started his own school called I Promise.
If you want to achieve peak performance and an optimal level of functioning, you will get yourself closer to achieving your business and life goals.