Peak Performance and What it Looks Like for You

October 28, 2011

Peak performance? You want it… in your work life, in your personal life, and athletically too. Really?

Have you ever thought about that term? Always a bit of a rebel for questioning issues that many accept as a given, I challenge you to consider what you are really striving for. Do you want to reach your highest level of performance at a particular point in time or do you really want to achieve a sense of mastery in your life, all areas of your life?

Many of us want to reach our highest level of mastery in important events in our lives, but we also might crave having more of a sense of mastery in our day-to-day lives. Do you want to push yourself as far and as high as you can go? Do you want to apply this intention to multiple areas of your life, no matter the situation? Relationships, finances, health, family, work… presentations, competitions, games, performances, events… all of these areas may at some time or another in your life motivate you to strive for mastery. You may say you are going for “peak performance”, but what do you mean by that term?

So much has been written about it, studies have been done and we can all identify someone who “nails it”-usually we most easily see this in elite athletes or we experience it at a performance. There is something inspirational in watching or experiencing someone as they hit their peak, and we want to achieve that in our lives as well. What I notice, however, is that we tend to use these examples and say “I want THAT” and we forget that that particular performance may have been that particular individual’s peak performance at that particular time and it won’t be just exactly that way ever again and your peak performance will never look exactly like it, ever.

My highest level of mastery, my “peak performance” for cooking a meal, let’s say will definitely NOT be the same as yours. And your highest level of mastery in cycling will most likely NOT be the same as say, Lance Armstrong’s. If we are truly interested in mastery we need to take this into consideration. It is part of being clear about what we mean when we use that term.

If we are honest with ourselves, there are small steps we take that actually move us AWAY from mastery at the same time we say we WANT it. Why do we do this? It takes time, preparation, determination, persistence and a real passion for achieving our highest level of mastery. We often give up on ourselves. It is easier to “check out”. If you are ready to get back on track for hitting your high mark, consider these questions and see if anything shifts. These points can help you clarify what you want and lead you toward raising your level of mastery, whether in a particular “performance” or in several areas of your life:

 

  1. Are you targeting a level of mastery for yourself? Or do you want what someone else “has”. Take into account your talents, strengths, weaknesses, time, dedication and passion for success in that particular area and make sure it resonates deeply with what you really want in your life. Remember that your peak performance will not replicate anyone else’s.
  2. Have you clearly defined what you mean by “peak performance”? Be specific about time, place, event, etc.… How will you know you have achieved it? What will you do once you have?
  3. Are you clear that “peak performance” is NOT static? Part of mastering your life involves being clear that “peak” means exactly that. There are valleys and there are peaks and there is everything in between. Trying to maintain the peak in any particular situation as status quo is not sustainable and ultimately will lead to frustration and failure. Unrealistic expectations often have us giving up before we start.
  4. How flexible are you? How connected to the moment are you? Given that peaks are not static and variables change over time, people and situations, the more you are able to see clearly the NOW, the more likely you will be to achieve mastery in several areas of your life and the more you will be able to reach your peak performance.

In my view, assuming we make a goal based on our own strengths and weaknesses, that we have trained, practiced, prepped over and over and that we have clearly identified the situation and desired outcome there comes a critical moment. This is the moment when everything either clicks into place or not. Your ability to be fully present in this moment and make slight adjustments as needed is just as important as all of the preparation and training you have already done. Many people forget this part. However, the more you can do this, the more likely you will be to achieve your highest level of mastery in that moment.

Comment below and let me know how you incorporate the idea of peak performance and mastery in your life!


 

Culture Shock

September 15, 2011

Culture shock doesn't need to be so shocking! Three qualities to bring into ANY interaction with individuals/groups when faced with varying backgrounds.

Culture shock is an issue that arises not only for people/groups who are doing business in other countries or interfacing with different nationalities and backgrounds, but also for anyone who is transitioning from one environment to another (even if it is a career move to a new department or moving across the country). It can also become an issue in interpersonal relationships.

There are certain people who seem to move effortlesslessly from one culture to another, from one setting to another. They are more able to fiind a connection with people who come from very different backgrounds from themselves and they just don't seem to experience as much "shock" as others when placed in unfamiliar territory. Why is that?

In my travels and in my personal and professional interactions with people of different cultures, backgrounds and careers I have noticed some similarities in those who seem to transition easily and those who do not. Some people focus only on learning about the "new" culture and trying to "fit in" (this happens in some HR departments who focus training on helping their new employees learn about their "new" country). This actually works... for a while, but isn't sustainable. Eventually (and the timing can be very short for some people, longer for others) feelings of frustration, irritation, lonliness, and even depression and anger can set in. This is the moment when you are ready to go home from a trip or the moment you start to seriously question why you moved yourself and your family to another country for your job!

The good news is that there ARE qualities you can learn to develop in yourself (if you want to) that ARE sustainable and can substantially improve your experience with culture shock. So, whether you are an expat living in a foreign country, someone traveling and/or working around the world with people from other cultures, or maybe just developing a personal relationship with someone from a different background, check out these qualities and see how developed they are within you:

  • Open-Mindedness (How curious are you about the world? How able are you to let your judgements go about yourself and others? How open are you to learning about different ways of doing things?)
  • Flexibility (Without giving up who you are at the core, how flexible are you in your behaviors and thoughts? How adaptable are you? Remember Darwin, in discussing survial of the "fittest" actually referred to a high level of adaptability being a core part of the term "fittest", not just strength-the bird does not try to BE a mammal, it just adapts and becomes a bird more likely to thrive in the changing environment)
  • Ability to see the BIG PICTURE ( How easily can you take a step back from the situation and remember the big picture, the reason you are exactly where you are right now? What is your overall intention for what you are doing? Perhaps this is a friendship you do not want to lose, perhaps you know it is what you want for your bigger career goals, perhaps you really want to learn about this other country/culture. The more you can do this, the more easily you can stay open-minded and flexible too!)

In our increasingly global world, these qualities are becoming more critical to people who live/work/travel outside their insular world. The more you can incorporate these qualities into your life, the less likely you will experience major culture shock and the more likely you will be to have a greater sense of ease in any transition. Try it out and see if anything changes and feel free to post any comments!

Have a great September! And join my mailing list (below) if you haven't already.

What Are You Waiting For?

August 08, 2011

"Not now", "Later", When I finish...", I can't because..." What we are usually saying is "NO".

Sometimes we are putting off responding to a request because we feel uncomfortable just saying "no" (that's another topic!). Much of the time, we are saying "no" to ourselves, to our dreams, to our plans that we actually WANT. We are so caught up in the day to day tasks that we lose sight of our journey, our mission.

When we get pulled off our path, when we lose our connection to what really matters most to us we often have the following emotions: frustration, fear, confusion, despair. We feel unmotivated and have a sense of going through the motions day after day. Our bodies feel achy, our energy is low and our mind is foggy. There is a sense that something is missing and life feels flat. Why do we stay in this place? Most of us are waiting for it to change and we somehow think this will just happen some day. However, when you feel this way it is actually an indication that it's time to get back on track, it's time to reconnect with what serves our greatest happiness, it's time to take action! YOU need to take the first step.

When we take action that brings us more in alignment with our mission, our purpose, we feel a sense of mastery over our lives and a sense of ease. Our emotions shift to feelings of peace, joy, gratitude, excitement, success... We become more efficient in our work and in our homes. Our bodies might feel lighter and more energized and our mind is very focused. Everything just seems to click into place and details seem to take care of themselves. Life is fun and fulfilling and we make things happen!

So, what are you waiting for? Here is a quick and simple process you can use NOW to get back on your path TODAY:

  • Write down EVERYTHING you have to do (you can take longer if you need to:-)-empty your mind of all the "to-dos",obligations and committments you have in there.
  • Now make a list of the people, dreams and goals that are most important to you in your life. Do this with intention. If you meditate, meditate for a few minutes then write them down
  • As you go through the day and you have choices to make about how you spend time, money, energy etc... Ask yourself this simple question: "Does this support the projects, dreams, goals, people that (who) are most important to me in my life? If the answer is "yes", you know you are on your path. It the answer is "no", time to readjust...

 

 

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