The push for “peak performance” is real and it doesn’t matter who you are: high-powered CEO or wannabe entrepreneur with their head in the clouds, self-help productivity junkie or go-with-the-flow guru; all of us have been pressured to reach this almost mythical state of fruitfulness.
But what if I told you that all of it is bullshit?
What if I told you that our focus has totally and completely missed the mark, that “peak performance” － or rather, the version that has been shoved down our throats － is not something to be chased after?
Well, whatever your feelings on the topic, that’s exactly what I’m saying.
You see, coaching spaces have thoroughly twisted the idea of peak performance. They all market the concept as the ultimate achievement, the solution to all business and private ills.
Perform well enough to be attributed with the term and you’re instantly seen as a success, a business genius destined for a life of riches and happiness and brilliance. Problems? You don’t have those anymore! They’re for lesser people who haven’t reached their full productive potential.
It’s a nice idea, right? If only it actually panned out like that.
In reality, no amount of efficiency or performance can guarantee any of these things － not money nor contentment and certainly not total ease. Issues will always pop up, challenges will always have to be conquered, and negative emotions or circumstances will always rear their ugly heads.
That’s just life, so-called peak performance or not.
Much of the coaching business also seriously misconstrues what all goes into the aforementioned phrase. They have lost sight of its true definition, of what it has to offer us and who (or who has not) attained it. To them, and to us by extension, it’s merely about ticking off a lot of boxes, about hitting certain metrics in a certain time frame and earning leverageable professional clout.
Needless to say, we really need to take a step back and re-examine things.
At its core, to be a peak performer is more than simply being the one who gets stuff done or who has earned a name of esteem in the entrepreneurial world. And as for performance itself? If my intense experiences in athletics and combat have taught me anything, it’s that performance actually has remarkably little to do with our ability to stay on track and complete tasks.
Peak performance is a unicorn if you will. It’s elusive and rare, holistic in nature. It’s not something so easily achieved, no matter what our high-performance landscape constantly tries to sell us, and few leaders genuinely operate from this state… at least, not in a sustainable way or in a manner that spans all areas of their lives.
Peak performance is, in fact, a state of being. It’s optimizing every area of one’s life － professional and personal. It’s mastering the art of managing inner volatility, it’s dialing into how you can be your best, most authentic self, and constantly adjusting along the way.
Ultimately, it’s a journey rather than a destination, one comprised of the sum total of your actions, your intentions, your way of being. How you choose to live your life and the impact you make on those around you define your level of performance first and foremost, long before the byproducts of your creation and action can manifest.
Recognize this, embody it, take this message forward. Discard the wrong ideals we have all been taught, give no heed to the canned, fortune-cookie-esque pieces of performance advice passed off as productivity scripture, and embrace the hard work required to see real performance gains.
Yeah, getting out of your comfort zone or shifting your mindset can both definitely help you reach your potential. But turning your emotions into an asset, fixing your relationship to yourself/others, unshackling yourself from doubt, fear, and cautiousness － those are what will really push you towards the success you crave.