How can you obtain optimal performance? First of all, why optimal and not peak performance?? Lots of people are looking for ‘peak’ performance, but in my mind we can only peak at certain moments. A track athlete trains on a regular basis, recovers on a regular basis and only competes periodically. Some competitions are viewed as part of the training cycle and they will train to ‘peak’ for only a few big events each year. If they were to try to peak throughout the year, they would burn out, get injured and have a short career.
Optimal performance, in my mind, means that you are performing at the level that is optimal for you given where you are along the journey, and that you save the peaking for special moments. It’s a long-term view and a constant state, not a periodic one. The opposite of a peak is a valley. And the valleys may be optimal, too, if they serve as big learning moments. Another important fact is that we are individuals and respond individually. If I have ten athletes and give them the exact same training program, nutrition program and recovery program, I would be hard pressed to find any two that had the exact same response. Each has different needs, genetics, experience, and ability to comply. Along the way they meet with different stressors in the form of illness, social issues, school or work issues, emotional stressors, things they have to do, time constraints, etc. All of which has an impact on their results.
I look at high performers and wonder about the traits that make them successful. Take Tom Brady. Much has been made of his discipline and the choices he makes in order for him to stay at the top. He lives very intentionally. Each day he has a clear intention and stays the course, even when the winds may try to blow him off course. He sticks to his compass. Being intentional is the first step towards optimal performance; it is the foundation. Being reactive to every ‘wind that blows’ and going through your day reacting to what comes at you rarely results in getting where you want to go. Whatever your goals may be, living each day intentionally instead of reactively can make an enormous difference in getting where you want to be.
So……where are you on the spectrum of intentional to reactive?
Are you more like a compass (intentional) or a weathervane (reactive)?
A compass will get you to your destination…..a weathervane just tells you which way the wind is blowing.