Aim For Elite: Why Striving For High Performance Is Really Aiming Low
The world’s best athletes know the secret to sustained elite performance is having a strategy in place in order to avoid burn out. They recognize the benefits of investing time, money and resources on recovery just as much as they do on actual training and competition.
Most high performing athletes are conditioned to keep going, just as business leaders are. They rarely, if ever, take days off. Their drive, passion and commitment to excel means that they often ignore the signs of fatigue, stress or exhaustion, and keep going until they collapse and some kind of external incident- such as sickness, illness or a relationship breakdown occurs- causing them to re-assess how they manage their energy. This is one key difference between a high performer and an elite performer.
Elite Performers -Olympic athletes are great examples- strategically spend 5% of their time competing at the highest level, 40% of their time training and pushing themselves to develop and refine skills and 55% of their time making sure that they are adequately resting and recuperating – which includes getting quality sleep- so that they can perform at the highest level both during training and in competition.
In contrast, in the business world, we are much less likely to treat our bodies with the same respect. We spend at least 70% of our time competing, pushing ourselves, or working at the highest level, and if we are lucky, we’ll allocate 5% of our time training ourselves to perform tasks with more skill and efficiency. That leaves just 25% of our time left over for rest and recuperation.
I call operating at this level high performance. A lot is accomplished during a short space of time- certainly more than the average person- but at great cost… in this case, over-use and mismanagement of energy to accomplish an end goal. It’s not as efficient as elite performance which nurtures us to perform at the top level while enabling us to sustain ourselves for the long haul. Without elite performance strategies under their belt is it any wonder that so many entrepreneurs burn out so quickly?
I used to dance professionally at a soloist level for a living. Rest was not an option when performing on stage 5 nights a week, it was a necessity…. otherwise my body would have crumbled with the demands I made on it. When I stopped performing and diverted my energy towards growing my training company I realized the importance of maintaining the energy mastery skills I had learned as a performer. It doesn’t matter if you’re a world class entertainer, an Olympic athlete or a business leader, the lesson of getting adequate rest so that you can perform in excellence remains the same.
For high performing professional women, taking time for rest and recuperation is a real challenge. We battle with the need to prove ourselves in a male dominated environment. We are wired to nurture and take care of others, often at the cost of ourselves. For those with dependents, the hurdle seems even bigger. If you're a man reading this, I have no doubt that you may often feel under pressure to prove yourself too. We all experience it in individual ways- that's for sure. If we are to continue to excel we need to model a new paradigm. We need to re-balance the ying with the yang that many leaders, whether male or female, have disconnected with in their rise to the top.
This week, be sure to devote time for rest time as well as work. And, if you need a system in place in your organization to make sure you and your team are getting in your quota of world class training, let's chat about how I can help you to step into elite.