Top entrepreneurs and CEOs continuously aim to raise the bar when it comes to their personal and organizational performance, but in their efforts to increase their performance they often end up sabotaging their progress and burning out.
There are huge misconceptions when it comes to top performance. The biggest ones are about working nonstop for longer hours, and cramming as many activities as possible into one day.
Although the tax of success requires more focus, productivity and hard work, what we learn from the biggest studies in performance is that in order to reach higher levels of success and contribution you have to consider a number of factors.
Managing your energy levels
It takes a lot of energy to build and grow a business. Taking time for yourself to consistently generate high amounts of energy is essential. Some of the most successful entrepreneurs and CEOs have as much self-reported mental, physical and emotional energy as National Football League quarter backs. How do they generate these high levels of energy?
Exercise plays a huge role—in fact the top 15% of high performers were 40% more likely to work out five times a week. But exercise on its own is not enough, other crucial habits include ensuring you get long restful sleeping hours, drinking plenty of water, eating healthy nourishing food, and allocating break times and mindfulness breathers throughout the day, as well as scheduling holidays throughout the year to recharge.
Getting laser focus clarity
Gaining clarity on your why, your values, what’s important to you, and what are the main goals or projects to move the needle for your business can save you a lot of time and energy.
The world’s highest performers have remarkable clarity about who they are, how they treat others, how to make the right choices, what direction they should be moving in and what life principles and practices keep them progressing and performing at their best. Studies show that high performers define what’s meaningful for themselves more often than their under-performing counterparts. They do that through deep personal reflections and discussions with coaches and mentors.
They are also future oriented—they spend on average 60 more minutes per week than other people just thinking about their day, how they want to show up, and what their intentions are for the day. They do that before getting sucked into distractions and other people’s agendas.
Focus on high yielding activities
Top performers make sure to use their time wisely and effectively. It’s easy to fall into the trap of wanting to be busy and completing as many tasks as possible in a certain period of time, but top performers know the difference between busy work and effective use of their time with high yielding activities. They focus 80% of their time on the outcomes that they can influence, which means the highest return activities involving their zone of genius, what they do best, and where they cannot be replaced. These could be board meetings, pitching to investors, speaking engagements, major deals and strategic decision-making discussions. They delegate other activities to talented people who are passionate about performing them.
Top performers have tremendous clarity over the major priorities and projects for at least a quarter down the line, and they design their working month, week, day accordingly.
Building influence and trust
Top performers realize early on that their long-term success is highly linked to the success of their relationships. They know that culture trumps strategy in predicting performance, so they channel their efforts to motivate and inspire their team to be and perform their best.
To do that, they establish clear values and principles for the organization and walk the talk. They acknowledge their teams and what they’re good at, they delegate projects and leave room for the team to be creative and figure things out while offering support when needed. And they raise the bar by challenging their team to increase their contribution levels and build strong relationships with their peers and stakeholders.
Reaching higher levels of performance and contribution is a science, an art and a mindset that starts at the top. In order to build higher performing teams and organizations, the CEOs have to cultivate high-performance environments and practices for themselves and their teams to ensure alignment and efficiency across the organization.
Lara Cattan is the founder of Sparks of One and a certified high-performance coach.