5 Steps to Optimize your Mind and Body for Peak PerformanceMar 21, 2023
5 Steps to Optimize your Mind and Body for Peak Performance
“In a society that glorifies grinding, short-term gains and pushing to extremes, it takes guts to rest.”
― Brad Stulberg
In my early 20s as I was starting my career in the fitness and lifestyle coaching industry, I always assumed that to gain a position as a leader, you must be good at leadership. It wasn’t until I started working with CEOs and top tier executives that I began to see that this assumption was far from true.
Just because someone is in a position of leadership doesn’t make them a good leader, and quite often because these people haven’t been focusing on optimizing their mind and body for peak performance, they end up living in a constant state of burnout and stress. To be a great leader, it requires a level of performance across all areas of your life so that you can lead by example and handle the pressures and highly intense situations that come with being at the top.
What is Peak Performance? One definition I read states: Peak Performance is a state in which the person performs to the maximum of their ability, characterized by subjective feelings of confidence, effortlessness, and total concentration on the task.
If we break this definition down, we can start to see where the requirements of both maximum physical and mental capabilities are needed to achieve a peak state.
- PERFORM TO THE MAXIMUM OF THEIR ABILITY
If you want to preform to the maximum of your abilities, you need to fit and healthy to start with. Even if you’re just working from home sitting at desk, if you’re trying to bounce from meeting to meeting, dealing with a team, dealing with clients or customers, being a leader; this takes a toll on the physical body.
- FEELINGS OF CONFIDENCE
You only feel confidence when your mind is in the right place. Confidence requires a level of happiness and calmness which comes from being at peace and assurance that you are doing the best you can do. This is all mindset.
- TOTAL CONCENTRATION ON THE TASK
Believe it or not, the ability to concentrate or not is intrinsically linked to quality of diet, quality of sleep, stress, fatigue and sedentary behaviour. These are all symptoms of not taking good care of your body.
We can see from this breakdown that to preform at our peak, we need to optimize our mind and body so that we can become a better leader and perform at the maximum of our abilities.
If we look into the world of peak performance in athletes, we can pull some of their best practises across into our own lives to optimise our own performance.
These 5 Steps I’m going to lay out for you are what I consider ‘essential’ practises to optimise our selves and get ourselves into the best position to perform at our peak. What I can also tell you is that these 5 steps are common practises for not only athletes by all my executive clients who I consider amazing leaders in their fields of work are incorporating these steps into daily lives as nonnegotiable routines.
- Working Out
If you want to peak performance, you MUST be doing some sort of exercise program. Now note, I’m not saying that you need to workout at your absolute peak, this book isn’t about peak performance for athletes, but you must have a comprehensive workout plan in place. Working out helps you to remove stress, sleep better, giving you energy and self confidence. These are all key elements to better peak performance. It’s also inspiring to the people who look up to you as a leader, having your people know that you care about yourself and priority your health and fitness means that they know you’re trying to perform at your best. I always get asked about my workouts and how often I do, working out 4-6 times a week grants you a level of respect because everyone knows it’s challenging to stay committed to a workout routine.
- Hot and Cold Therapy
This is a bit of secret tool that not a lot of people utilise, but I can guarantee you that a lot of the world’s greatest leaders definitely do this, particularly in the business and entrepreneurial world. Hot and Cold Therapy is the process of heating the body to a high temperature (usually in a sauna) and then immediately cooling the body (usually in a cold water pool or bath) so that your body has a hormonal response as it’s shocked into quickly switching from trying to cool the body down to trying to warm the body up. Some of the benefits of doing Hot/Cold Therapy are:
- A reduction in inflammation through out the body, less inflammation = better performance, physically and mentally.
- Better focus, when you have a cold plunge or shower the rapid change in temperature makes your body dump a hormone called dopamine which can stay elevated for more then 2 hours after. Dopamine is essential for motivation and feeling positive, which goes hand in hand with peak performance.
- It’s also challenging to do, so if you can get into the habit of utilising this tool, it will build mental toughness and the confidence to do things that makes you uncomfortable. A great leader is required to do things that makes them uncomfortable, why not start practising now.
Now I know this might seem contradictive to peal performance, if we are trying to maximise our performance so we could do more, why would we be stopping to rest? Rest is absolutely vital for being able to perform at your peak, yet it is usually the number one thing that most leaders overlook. Over the years, I’ve worked with so many burn out high achievers who have been pushing their performance to the max for too many years and now the lack of rest has caught up to them. Rest allows the body and mind to recover and rejuvenate it’s self and it rebuilds your energy levels so that you can push and perform at your peak again. Think of your body and mind as a rechargeable battery, if you don’t recharge the battery eventually over the time it goes dead. Another aspect of rest that is often overlooked is that when you rest, that is often when great ideas or solutions to problems will come to you. It is in the stillness of rest that allows you to see clearly. Great leaders are known for solving problems and coming up with great ideas so giving yourselves the time and space to allow these things to happen is extremely important.
- Supplements and Diet
Really this could be an entire chapter or it’s own book, but I want to briefly touch on the subject because if you want to really maximum your peak performance there are a few supplements and dietary choice which are used by the world’s best leaders which you can easily incorporate into your own routines. Disclaimer: not all supplements or diets are right for everyone so please do your own research before taking anything or changing your diet. Here are a couple of ideas for you to explore.
Lion’s mane mushrooms and black coffee - This nootropic mushroom supports healthy brain functioning, including memory, focus, and clarity. Paired with coffee this can be a great way to your day, particularly if you have a lot of emails or tasks you need to blast through. Great when paired with fasting. I personally use this with fasting a lot.
Fasting- Research has shown that fasting can help to clear the mind and awaken the senses while also boosting brain functioning. Makes sense when you think about it, when have you ever performed at your best after eating half a pizza. I don’t like to eat first thing in the morning because I get a lot of mental clarity and alertness from fasting.
Diet – I don’t think I need to expand too much on this because we all know that what we eat really impacts how we feel and perform. Choosing a diet that is right for you really comes down to experimenting and finding out which makes you feel and perform the best. Could be keto, could be low carb, could be vegetarian. I can’t tell you which is best for you, but you should definitely spend some time figuring that out.
Nootropic Stack Supplements – This one is a little bit fringe, but if you are really looking for that little bit of extra edge you might want to consider some of the ‘performance stacks’ out there. You need to be really careful because there are a lot of fraudulent companies out there that take advantage of this need by charging a lot of money for things that don’t work. Again I say, do your own research but I want to give you a couple of options you might want to take a look at. Alpha Brain by Onnit is extremely popular, Qualia Mind by Neurohacker Collective and Universal Nootropic by Mind Lab Pro are very popular as well.
- Having a Coach or Mentor
All the best athletes and leaders in the world have a coach or mentor that helps them stay in peak condition. If you want to perform at your best, I suggest you get one as well. The first thing you need to do is determine what area of your life do you feel needs the most work and start with a coach for that. If you struggle to workout regularly, get a personal trainer. Do you struggle with eating and discipline with your diet? Get a Nutritionist. Do you need help with your mindset and dealing with stress and anxiety? Get a Mindset Coach. I have a Perspective Coach because I’ve mastered working out and dieting, but I need help changing subconscious patterns and perspective I’ve learn as a child which can sometimes hold me back. I often see with people who think they are a great leader, a big sense of arrogance that they are already performing at their peak so why would they need a coach? This is a blind spot which I encourage you to stop and have a look at yourself, are there areas in your life that really could use some help, some areas that you can be honest with yourself and say that you aren’t performing at your peak? This can be a complete gamechanger if you’re willing to humble yourself and seek some help. Remember every pro athlete has multiple coaches to help them perform at their peak, what shouldn’t you?
Peak Performance is not a natural gift, it’s something you must learn and practise. It’s a set of skills and behaviours that can be taught and worked on. Now it is true that you might not all have the abilities and capacity to be in the top 10% of the world’s peak performers but if you understand that there are skills and behaviours you can practise and improve on, then you can achieve a higher level of peak performance based of your own previous levels. That means you can be better, do better, achieve more and become better leader. Are you visualising your success? Are you focused on results not perfection? Are you solving problems? Are you being self aware? These are some of the other skills you can be working on while you start implementing the 5 key Steps laid out in this chapter. Being critical and analysing yourself without judgement is going to help you find any little area that can be improved on. Trying to achieve a level of Peak Performance is a never-ending goal, you can’t just suddenly achieve it, you’re always working on it. There is always room for improvement so focus on the process and try to enjoy it along the way. Remember anything that you do towards improvement is better then nothing. If you only manage 2 workouts a week instead of 4, 2 is better then nothing. If you only manage a hot/cold shower every now and then, it’s better then not at all. If you only take Sunday’s off instead of Saturday and Sunday, one day a week is better then nothing. If you only eat healthy during the week, that a good start. If you don’t hire a coach but you spend some time thinking about what areas of your life need improving, then that alone is going make you aware of where you could put some of your attention.
Peak Performers pursue greatness. It’s your life, it’s your potential, and now it’s up to you.
Jay Quarmby - Certified Personal Trainer and Lifestyle Specialist
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