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!