In “The Luck Factor” we have seen how a positive mindset or “feeling lucky” can not only alter how we perceive the world, but also how successful we might perform. The book “Peak Performance” shows that many of the practices that lead to great success are essentially the same regardless of the discipline. Brad Stulberg, a former McKinsey and Company consultant, and Steve Magness, a performance scientist, show evidence that the following practices (among others) have a proven high impact on results regardless whether it is in sport, arts or business. Some of these secrets of success you might already be aware of, but others will most certainly take you by surprise. In their book “Peak Performance” Stulberg and Magness coach their audience how to use these simple practices:
- Optimally alternating between periods of intense work and complete rest: 2 hour chunks of focused followed by a short rest (of up to 15 min) is best. Take days for recovery, great inspirations generally happen not during busy times.
- Setting up a good routine that is inducive of performing well (which might be slightly different for everybody). Good habits also have the added bonus that they free up mental capacity that would otherwise be needed to navigate through the work when routines are not in place.
- There is a direct correlation of sleep optimum and performance. Generally speaking, most of us don’t sleep enough, i.e. 6-7 hours when for most of us optimal are 7-8 hours.
- Regular meditation practice increases the ability of dealing with adversity significantly.
- Repetitive behaviour, ie eating the same meals and dressing in the same style, does free up other mental capacity (as very amusingly described in “The Rosie Project” by Graeme Simsion, T.H.). Stulberg and Magness point out how Steve Jobs used to and Mark Zuckerberg does seem to dress in very similar clothing.
- Socialising: Many of us will be pleased to hear that de-briefing in a social environment with friends or colleagues is beneficial for our performance rather than de-briefing on our own.
- Purpose: Evidence shows that people perform better and gain extra strength when working towards a common goal or for a specific valued purpose rather than for their own gratification.
I love how Stulberg and Magness give the latest scientific insights into the cognitive and neurochemical factors that drive performance. They got my attention when they challenged our habit of overworking by highlighting the benefits of regular breaks and the importance of letting your mind go into inspiration mode!