4 Ways of Adopting a High-Performance Mindset

How many times in our lives have we put something off because we’re not ready, we need more time, or we don’t feel comfortable?  

I’ve completed 10 Ironman Triathlons and over 40 10-day non-stop Eco-Challenge Adventure Races through the most remote places on earth, and here’s a secret:  I didn’t feel ‘ready’ for any of them.  There was always more I could have done to train, something I needed more time to prepare, or I wished I could delay the start until a day when I felt stronger.  

Truth be told, I would most likely never have approached a start line or undertaken those “risks” to journey into the unknown physically, emotionally, and interpersonally if there wasn’t a specific race date on the calendar and someone with a megaphone saying “go!”.  But I am ever so glad I did. I wouldn’t give back those moments, memories, and lessons for anything on earth. Because it is in those moments of risk, where we are forced to rise to a challenge, that we add another brick to the foundation of our character, confidence, and strength.

So how do we, instead of “wishing” we had the COURAGE, develop a high performance mindset that pushes us to take risks and go BIG?

1. The Key to Peak Performance: Focus on The Hope of Success Versus the Fear of Failure

When you’re driving your car or riding your bike, where is your focus? You’ve got a laser focus on exactly where you WANT to go, right? 

Where we get into the most trouble is when we start focusing on where we DON’T want to go – because that’s inevitably where we will end up! So why, when we’re analyzing our risks and obstacles, do we often get so obsessed with what we DON’T want to have happen instead of envisioning what success will look like?  

Spending your mental energy focusing on what can go wrong keeps you from focusing on choosing the best path and getting it RIGHT. Besides, focusing on your fears, most of which won’t materialize, is not only a waste of your time and creativity, they are a tether that holds your personal hot air balloon to the ground.  

This is your time to fly and your time to shine for all of your hard work and dedication to what you love and the areas in which you excel.  Sometimes the only thing standing in your way is your focus! 

2. High performers do it anyway

How you feel is far less important than what you DO. Feeling scared, nervous, and uncomfortable when you’re rappelling off that symbolic cliff of changing your life, starting a business, or going after big goals is just a GIVEN. It’s the price of admission for an exceptional life! The only difference between you and the girl or guy who is living her dream is that he or she felt the fear and ‘did it anyway’. 

Fear is an ever-present factor when we face times of challenge and risk. In fact, fear is such a big part of my life that I’ve come to embrace it in a way, as the vigilant guardian and trusted friend that gives me a “heads up” to be at my best. But we just can’t let our emotions affect our locomotion. In other words, being a high performer isn’t based on what you FEEL it’s based on what you DO. So when you’re faced with that next big leap in life, it’s ok to let fear whisper in your ear, but let COURAGE rule your actions. 

3. Never Leave The Starting Line Without Teammates

For 15 years I was an adventure racer, which is a sport that involves 4 team members traveling 600-1000 miles, completely non-stop, running, hiking, kayaking mountaineering, and navigating their own course with a map and compass for up to 10 days, across some of the most remote and dangerous terrain on earth.

As you can imagine, something as daunting and crazy and difficult as an AR is something we would have NEVER done alone, but with an awesome team of like-minded and courageous individuals around us, we didn’t always have to be brave. Because someone else on the team was brave enough in that moment for the others who weren’t. 

I can’t tell you how many times I was wet, cold, exhausted, crying, or hallucinating from lack of sleep on our 4th day of racing with only 6 hours of sleep TOTAL under our belts, wondering if I was going to have the courage to keep going. And then one of my team members would reach out and grab my hand, offer me a tow line, make me laugh, feed me some fritos, or even sing the Sound of Music soundtrack with me to get me through the toughest, scariest obstacles and darkest coldest nights. Never in a million years would I have finished an adventure race alone. But we became multiple world champions because we never had to. None of us was as brave or as strong as all of us. 

Teammates are some of the best people to have in your life! And you should never leave the starting line of YOUR life’s adventure races without them. There is definitely strength, and courage, in numbers! 

4. Growth and transformation take GUTS

When I think about the word Guts, there are really two definitions. It’s courageous to make that big leap for your goals or shatter the norm in life, but it’s equally courageous to have patience and faith in your mission. So when I talk about guts, it’s an acronym….

The G is: Going the Distance, quietly persevering….

The U is: Unwavering in your Patience and Faith…

The T is:  Taking Calculated Risks,…and

The S is:  Shattering the Norm

By my definition, few people had more GUTS than a high jumper named Dick Fosbury. For decades, athletes in the high jump event in track and field did a straddle jump, diving roll, or “scissor kick” sideways over the high bar. But the athletes had reached a plateau in the sport based on human flexibility and physiology. Then, Dick Fosbury came along. He wasn’t content to simply do what had always been done and just try to do it 1/4 inch better. The rules only stated that one had to get their entire body over the bar without touching it – they never dictated HOW it needed to be done. With an unwavering belief in himself and his theory and after months of quiet perseverance and training, Fosbury discovered that, by leading with his head instead of his legs and diving over the high bar backwards, he could go much higher than any other person had ever gone before.

Can you imagine the shock from his competitors and the spectators when, in the 1968 Olympics, Dick Fosbury suddenly flopped over the bar BACKwards – Seemingly diving onto his head?! Fosbury had shattered the norm, changed a sport, and instantly launched himself to world class status as a high jumper with one BIG Fosbury FLOP.   

So what will your Fosbury Flop be? How will you change the world, or even just shatter the norm of your life? Yes, transformation takes GUTS, but remember that breakthrough performances like Fosbury’s are not only based upon taking Calculated Risks and Shattering the Norm in competition…behind every gutsy superstar in life are the small steps of their journey, their quiet perseverance, their hard work and commitment to practice, and their ultimate belief that they are meant to be successful. So here’s to YOU, to your GUTS, and to your next big Fosbury Flop!