How to become a resilient master performer

I found a recipe to become a resilient master performer by combining concepts from learning, coaching and sustainable high performance. My recipe is not the only way but it works for me and I want to share the WHAT, WHY and HOW with you.

What does it mean to be a resilient master performer?

I picture myself as an athlete who wants to win the Olympic gold medal. So, to me it simply means to

  • become a master in a given field instead of being average or good,
  • constantly improve performance over many years instead of standing still,
  • avoid burn out and be resilient against continuous high pressure and stress.

resilient-master-performer-copyAs much as I’d like to take part in the Olympics, my athlete days are over… Now I apply the same logic to the workplace instead 🙂 .

Why does it matter?

I asked myself the 5 questions below and answered each one with “NO”. That means I had to admit that I need to find ways to do more work each year and to master my field to reduce chances of being replaced, and avoid burning out in the process.

If you can answer the below questions with “YES”, then this article is not for you and you can stop reading.

  1. Does my boss ask me to do less work year after year and take it easy?
  2. No young people with fresh ideas joined the company (who start challenging me/my ways)?
  3. Did all our competitors go out of business?
  4. No machine, software, colleague etc can ever replace me/my job?
  5. Knowledge in my field has not advanced in the last 20 years and won’t in the future?

Let me guess. 5 x “YES”?

How do I become a “resilient master performer”?

I read a lot and then combined what I learned about mastery, coaching and sustainable high performance. I concluded that

sustainable pushing is the way to mastery

and that the recipe for it is:

  1. Get a coach who pushes you beyond your boundaries
  2. Learn from someone who is significantly better than you
  3. Manage your energy

Here is the story about why these 3 elements make up my recipe:

  1. You need a coach who pushes you

man-160088__340Mike Spracklen approach (he is a legendary rowing coach who led GB, US and Canadian teams to win 38 Olympic and World Championship titles between 1976-2012). Here is a YouTube video which explains some of his motivation and coaching approach. He says: “I am helping, encouraging and pushing all the time; Everyone needs a different form of help: kick up the pants, arm round the shoulder, motivation… I am helping, encouraging and pushing all the time… If you don’t want me to push you, I wont but if I don’t push you I am not helping you (to get onto that Olympic podium)”

  1. Learn from someone who is a lot better than you are

chess-603624__340In James Altucher’s podcast with Cal Newport they talk about how to get better at something. You can put in 10,000 hours to become an expert (10,000h rule) or acquire a lot of knowledge. Both isn’t a guarantee for improvement or mastery. However, if you practice with someone who pushes you constantly beyond your boundaries then your will learn and improve constantly.

  1. Manage your energy to become resilient

light-bulb-1042480__340My mental and physical fitness is declining the older I am. I don’t like that at all! Then I read “Sink, float or swim” which explains how to manage your energy to improve performance year after year despite getting older (check out Tignum’s blog on sustainable high performance for more practical tips). Just like a top athlete you need to focus on 4 pillars for high performance:

  1. have the right mindset,
  2. nutrition = eat well and hydrate,
  3. recovery = sleep a lot,
  4. exercise.

Merge the 3 elements and you have the concept of the resilient master performer.

What to do next?

Here is a list of practical questions that I used as first steps to get started on my journey:

  1. Get a coach who pushes you beyond you boundaries
    • Who do I know who could coach me?
    • Who is a world class coach in the field I want to master?
    • If I cannot get access my dream coach, how could (s)he coach me anyway?
    • What can I do to improve 1% today?
    • What are my current limitations?
    • What feels (un)comfortable?
  2. Learn from someone who is significantly better than you
    • What do I actually want to achieve here?
    • What field do I want to master?
    • Who is world class in this area?
    • How can I learn from the best people?
  3. Manage your energy
    • What did I eat today?
    • How is my motivation today?
    • How much water did I drink today?
    • Did I rest enough to feel energized?
    • What did I do well today?

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In my next post I will cover some practical ways on HOW TO GET BETTER IN ASKING QUESTIONS.

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