Monday, February 08, 2016

Prevent Pointless Peak Performance!


Tragically, just over a week ago the world’s best restaurant chef decided to end his life. He was at the very top of his game when he decided to leave.

Many executives I meet in my coaching practice are totally focused on achieving peak performance. To strengthen their will-power, they compete in iron-man races, the New York Marathon, or else they go cycling 100 miles before breakfast to watch the sun-rise just for fun on weekends.

It sometimes seems to me that these executives can only either burn-out or bore-out.

Many of these peak performers are focused so laser-like on success, that when they fail to succeed according to their own high standards, they kick the bucket and all of their success becomes meaningless. We’ve heard of too many successful executive and celebrity suicides in the news in recent years.

I have found that peak performance bears special risks, which are not immediately obvious. Frequently the peak experience brings with it an initial rush of adrenalin, endorphins and euphoria, followed by a sense of overwhelm, emptiness and a lack of significance.

Victory is often followed by depression.

The sequencing is tricky here, because we may celebrate and party with the peak performers right after their successful achievement, but then we leave them alone when the dark night of the soul visits them. Despite (or maybe because of) their greatest achievements, peak performers may lose their sense of direction, purpose and meaning. Many peak performers experience that their focus on external success forces their inner and outer realities to drift apart, resulting in a gap, which can grow into what many experience as a hole in the soul. And, as many of these victims of the peak performance craze have found, you can’t stuff enough titles, trophies, toys or status symbols into this hole to fill it up.

Things simply won’t heal it.

We need to unlearn some of the success gurus’ principles, and create the right context for great success to emerge on a sustainable, truly satisfying, wholesome basis.

In a way, success really isn’t such a big deal.

Success is simply a side-effect, a by-product, a result of our actions.

The word success simply means: it follows.

Thus the good news is that we are all highly successful and we always succeed, whenever we get results.

We might just not always like the type of success we reap.

Depending on the quality of our input, the resulting output or success may be good, bad, or downright ugly. Judging by the successful celebrity and executive suicides in recent years, even peak performance may not provide us with the sense of satisfaction, significance, or the inner peace and joy we may secretly be seeking.

Many peak performers I have talked with are not very clear about their true motives, the underlying drivers of their need to succeed. I have often found that these drivers include a need to prove themselves to someone, a desire to belong, or an inner compulsion to overcome some personal flaw they perceive in themselves. Many of the underlying emotional drivers tend to be negative. Sometimes I ask myself what demons of their distant past they are still running away from so desperately.

What is driving you to perform?

If we drive ourselves to achieve peak performance, setting ourselves stretch objectives, visualizing success, and taking massive action to secure our goals, out of a sense of lack or neediness, we may find when we reach the very peak, the feelings we were running away from will be there to welcome us.

Right after the peak performance party.

When we are all alone.

With nobody there to help us.

If you attach intense negative emotions to a result you wish to generate, your subconscious mind will typically provide you with more of these emotions. It seems that our mind sets priorities in how it operates based on the frequency and intensity of input. Thus, the more you hate, need, fear or dislike something and use this energy to fuel your passion for peak performance, the more you may find yourself manifesting these emotions over and over again in your reality.

If this is true at all, what type of intensely positive emotions would you need to attach to your life objectives, in order to ensure that when you finally arrive, you will feel truly fulfilled?