The long term investment is the only way to become a high performer in sport or business. Here are my fundamental strategies to help move you in the right direction to enhanced performance.
SET YOUR STANDARDS
Before you start any development or create goals, you need to set your standards. Make sure that you are becoming the person you want to be. Understand your values and beliefs. This is vital because if these are not aligned with the person you are, then you will always be fighting a losing battle.
SET CLEAR GOALS
Goal setting is a critical component of high performance; goals allow us to monitor progress, but they are just milestones along the way. Short term goals have too much focus on them, as we are in a time and place where success is only good if it happens fast.
Make sure that you write those goals down and review them every week to ensure that you are on the right lines. Imagine that you are flying a plane, 1 or 2 degrees off course can have a massive effect. Check out our video on how to set goals here.
BUILD YOUR FOUNDATIONS
Performance should be like a snowball, slowing increasing in intensity and volume. We should continually develop aerobic capacity, general strength building, mobility drills, body conditioning and mental conditioning. Improving your movement not only helps with physical performance but also mental performance and reduction in injuries.
CONSISTENCY IS KING
If you want to become better at anything, consistency is king. We all have days when we don’t feel motivated to train or work. But the key here is doing something – start a warm-up, write that first email, then change the training session or do something different if you still feel demotivated. Remember, we are looking for a compound investment towards your goals. Therefore the aim is to improve by 0.5-1% every day. If we achieve this, imagine where you will be in 5 years.
EVERYTHING TAKES TIME
I was once helping develop a gym for a client; I told the client how long the setup would take. The client said to me that I was ambitious on that timeline and to remember that it’s better to over-deliver than over-promise. Everything takes time. High-performers are never overnight successes, so don’t be in a rush. Enjoy the process.
When we get comfortable, we stop improving and start moving backwards. Every day we should be asking ourselves, “how can I get uncomfortable today?” Make sure that you’re testing yourself and recording your results. I can never understand when people are trying to improve a skill, component of fitness, or a business, and they don’t write down what they have done.
Fear should never be a part of the equation. Many of us are hesitant to try new things or push ourselves outside of our comfort zone. So, we stick to what we know.
It’s important to realise that fear of failing is holding you back. No one is perfect when trying something new for the first time, and while no one wants to experience defeat or failure, it’s a crucial part of the process.
Remember, it’s normal to mess up, but how you respond to those failures and move forward is what’s going to help you improve.
USE SPORTS SPECIFIC STRENGTH TRAINING WISELY
General physical preparation is great and should form the mainstay of your training. But if you are competing in a sport, think about adding specific strength training wisely into the programme. This type of training is very beneficial but also hugely fatiguing on the system.
Warming up correctly is vital for long term health. It’s an opportunity to improve mobility and movement. For me, of course, it preps the body for that workout, but more importantly, it gets the mind in the right place. If your mind is in the right state, your performance will be better.
VARY YOUR TRAINING
A big mistake I see people making with their training is limiting themselves to one or two exercises. For example, many people think that to improve as a runner, they just need to run. However, there are considerable benefits to varying your training. For example, that runner would benefit from some form of strength training to improve your running economy. Variation will also reduce the risk of injury, as well as reduce the risk of overuse.
Even minor variations can help with improved consistency and injury reduction.
PLAN YOUR TRAINING
Another simple mistake to fix is a lack of planning. So many people step into the gym, head out for a run or start work without a clear goal for the session/day. Consequently, we all end up doing what we like instead of what we should do.
Also, you are more likely to train if you have planned and blocked out time for it, so build the training into your schedule. I suggest that you now look at your diary and block out your training for the next month. We need to move away from the idea that training and developing ourselves is selfish.
IMPORTANCE OF SLEEP
Lack of sleep is a big issue for high performers, and it’s not going away. With more distractions in the evenings than ever before, sleep is the number one recovery tool. And when we talk about recovery, we are talking about both physical and mental performance.
What gets measured gets managed. There are loads of different apps and devices that can help you better understand your sleep quantity and quality. My main go-to is duration – if you can increase your sleep duration by 15 mins, that’s an extra 5,475 mins per year. Do you think that would help your recovery and performance? Check out our discussion with an elite sleep coach here.
With most people, training is the easy part. Consistent nutrition is a different story. Poor nutrition will affect every performance area from training, recovery, sleep, mood and cognitive performance. Unhealthy foods put needless stress on your body and mind, and it’s essential to understand this.
Good nutrition is easy but not simple. A diet based on vegetables, fruit, whole grains, and lean protein is a good starting point.
DO SOME MOBILITY EXERCISES
Improved mobility helps with both performance and recovery. It is not only a physical but a mental practice as well. We know that we need to train hard, but we also need to make sure that we have low periods during the day and week. Cycling the intensity of their training is what professional athletes do to improve adaptation from training and improve performance. Like with sleep, short periods of mobility work can help.
TRAINING IS NOT JUST PHYSICAL
Remember that training is not only beneficial to the body but also to the mind. Sometimes it’s ok just to train or to run without music. I see people who want to get out of their bodies and want to distract themselves from the pain. But the point of training is to become more aware of what your body is telling you. Improving your physical fitness will help with improving your mental fitness.
Visualising your success before it happens can help you get one step closer to your goal. Think long and hard about how it will feel when you achieve it.
Think about all of those little details. How do you feel? What does the environment look like? What do you see?
The more detailed your visualisations are, the better.
Visualisation creates a strong emotional connection to your goals. It can keep you motivated and mentally prepare you for the steps it will take to get there.
The worst thing you can do when trying to improve your performance is to put yourself in a box. So, once you’ve mastered a technique or skill, look for other approaches.
Sticking to the same techniques is the quickest way to reach a plateau.
Open yourself up to new possibilities. At the gym, try new training techniques. At work, speak with colleagues or talk to a manager. Get some feedback on how you’re performing and listen to the advice you receive, this is what a high performer does all the time, they are constantly after feedback.
INVEST IN HIGH PERFORMANCE COACHING
One of the best ways to improve performance is by having the help and support of a coach. A coach will be able to analyse your performance and identify ways you can improve.
They offer a different perspective that could ultimately prove to be very valuable.
A coach can create a bespoke plan to help you meet your goals and give you a more structured routine catered to your specific needs. Take a look at the benefits of high-performance coaching here.
Finding out how to improve performance is both simple and complex. A lot of the fundamentals are straightforward in principle but difficult to implement in practice.
Use these techniques to guide you through as you work to get better. If you put in the effort and stay consistent, you’ll undoubtedly be successful.
What should excite you is that there are many areas to think about, and small changes and improvements in those areas can move the needle.
Remember that high performance is not a one-off event; it’s about consistently improving.
Progression over perfection.
Director & Founder
Why not take our performance test to see how you are doing? Take it here.