As an athlete and cyclist, I’m obsessed with studying brain states and peak performance. I’ve been around peak performers for the last decade both in sports and work, and human potential has long fascinated me. It not only inspires me to do better, but I learned how to “hack my mind” to become a peak performer myself.
The secret to peak performance is understanding the flow cycle and to be able to trigger flow states.
Of course, I’m still a work in progress considering the fact that I always think I have my shit together but still manage to almost miss my train, trip, and face plant in one of France’s busiest train stations last summer. I did make my train with 20 seconds to spare, 100lb suitcase in tow, high heels and all… then simply sighed with relief and laughed at my tribulation knowing that none of those 200 people will ever see me again. 🤞🏼 Sad to say, this is not the first time I’ve embarrassed myself in public but as a wannabe-peak performer, I don’t let these setbacks interfere with vibes.
In the spirit of learning and recognizing failure is required for growth, let’s chat about my favorite topic: peak performance. I hope to inspire and give you the confidence and tools to reach your maximum potential.
What is Peak Performance?
Peak performance means reaching your fullest potential to perform at your best mentally and physically.
Peak performance isn’t about being the top salesperson in your company or making a million dollars. Peak performance is being well-rounded in all aspects of your life— from your career to your health and relationships, and most importantly, the relationship you have with your own mind. You have mastered your mind, body, and soul.
Smashing The Impossible
You may have heard of the 4-minute mile— everyone’s favorite story when trying to explain full potential but let me reiterate it for you:
In 1954, Roger Bannister did the impossible: he ran a mile in under 4 minutes (3:59:04 to be exact). He defied the best minds who said running a mile in under 4 minutes was impossible because, for decades, there were no finishers. 46 days later, someone else broke the impossible carrier with a time of 5:38. A year later, three more runners broke it in a single race.
Over the last half-century, more than a thousand runners have conquered a barrier that had once been considered hopelessly out of reach.
As I write this, the current fastest time for a mile is 3:43.13.
What we learned from The 4-Minute Mile:
- Limits are just as of a psychological barrier as a physical one.
- Just because we can’t see something, doesn’t mean it can’t happen.
- We create our own self-imposed limits because our minds haven’t “seen” them yet.
- We hold others back, telling them something isn’t possible.
- Leaders can create legacies by doing things that haven’t been done before.
When you create labels such as “impossible” and shout them out loud, you are subconsciously influencing everyone around you and holding the entire human race back. So let’s stop calling things “impossible” just because YOU think it is impossible.
Stay In Your Own Lane
Keep your limited beliefs to yourself and give everyone and everything a chance to smash these impossible limits.
But don’t worry— if you’re guilty of imposing your limiting beliefs onto others (like we all did at some point in our lives), there are ways to overcome it. Just like how Bannister did the impossible and ran a sub-four-minute mile, you can achieve the seemingly impossible and overcome your limiting beliefs!
How To Achieve Peak Performance
In order to reach peak performance, we must understand the flow cycle and learn how to access flow states. Flow states are altered states of consciousness where everything is seemingly effortless because you lose the sense of time and even yourself, including that voice in your head reminding you of limiting beliefs.
What is Flow State?
Flow state is defined as the intersection between challenge and purpose. In other words, that activity has to be something you are equally passionate about yet challenged enough for you to enter flow. There is a lot of science that has to do with parts of your brain being activated and deceived but to simplify it, the activity becomes effortless because you’ve removed all the friction.
I easily drop into flow when it comes to cycling, exercising, writing, researching, designing, and having deep, meaningful conversations. Needless to say, it’s great to cultivate different hobbies so you can literally live in flow.
The good news is that flow states are peak states of your mind, and since your mind is a muscle, everyone can achieve it.
7 Benefits of Peak Performance
More time, more money, more love— don’t we all want the same things? Living in a state of peak performance can give you all these things, effortlessly. Whether you are running a business or trying to live your best life, peak performance is going to give you the edge you need.
1) Unshakeable Resilience
Peak performers keep their minds and bodies strong so they don’t waver when challenges arise. They understand and execute the basic fundamentals of building resilience:
- Prioritize well-being— this encompasses mental, physical, and spiritual health. They put themselves first. Using the airplane analogy, if you don’t put the mask on yourself first, you won’t be able to save anyone else around you. When you take care your yourself, you build strength, immunity, and resilience. Everyone around you will reap the benefits.
- Exercise every day because fitness is the antidote for everything from insecurities, brain health, mood disorders, anti-aging, and not to mention, just being a nicer person. And it’s free! Exercise may mean a full workout at the gym, a bike ride, or a simple walk after dinner because that’s all you truly had time for. The point is to incorporate movement every day.
- Eat nutritious and wholesome foods because everything you put in your body has a cause and effect. Food can modify gene expression, affecting all areas of your life including your mental health and performance. Do you know think those toxic oils from the french fries at your favorite fast food restaurant aren’t doing massive damage to your body?
- Show up every day, especially when they don’t want to. Peak performers know that in order to build good habits, they can’t break the streak so they do what they need to do every single day.
- Don’t hold back. For example, if you are doing interval training at the gym, you are going to give it your all before your recovery interval. For me, this may look like going hard for a minute until I want to throw up, knowing that I have a full minute of rest coming up. At work, this may mean you go above and beyond your task, doing a little more than what you were asked.
- Always take the hard route even if it means discomfort. Getting out of your comfort zone is intimidating at first but the more you do it the easier it gets so just take the first step! You’ll be so proud of yourself that you’ll find yourself crawling back for more.
As a cyclist, I will use the analogy of climbing mountains: we suffer hard on the climbs but as we near the top, we swear to ourselves that we’ll never do this again! Once we get to the top, however, the sense of accomplishment and overcoming a self-imposed limit spell-binds us in a state of bliss and awe. We always come crawling back for more— and each mountain is always higher or steeper than the last.
Why? We found power in our resilience.
2) Flexible Agility
Peak performers understand that everything is constantly changing and the hard truth is that they must adapt… or die (to make it super dramatic).
These days you may not die but you will be left behind and live a life of despair. That sounds downright miserable and peak performers will make sure that never happens to them!
In our earlier days before we were laden with the privilege of technology, cars, and smartphones, we use to roam the earth on foot migrating from one location to another, and if you fell behind, you will actually die. The world was harsh back then and we are so lucky to be living in this now… so let’s all try to contribute to our evolution so we don’t have to go backward.
Peak performers understand their part in the cosmic chain of evolution and do their part; they roll with changes, pivot when needed, and go with the flow.
The other option is to not do anything, play victim, and complain that no one is coming to save you.
Which type of person are you?
3) 10x Performance: Better Focus & Productivity
When your mind and body are optimized for peak performance, you aren’t wasting time and energy. You utilize proven strategies to relax your mind, which paves the way to the absolute clarity that is needed to be creative and solve problems.
When you enter flow state, you learn to be focused on the task at hand and not be distracted, hence getting work done in up to half the time it would take a non-peak performer.
4) Complete Confidence
Don’t be fooled by social conformities— having confidence isn’t arrogant. Having confidence in yourself makes you a better person for everyone around you. Peak performers who are confident radiate warmth, charisma, and positivity, and they want everyone to do better because they understand that energy is contagious. Don’t we all want good energy?
Lack of confidence is the result of insecurities. Our brains are wired to project these low-frequency vibes onto other people (to prevent us from the painful feelings of lack that we desire)— and this is how toxic workplaces and cultures are born.
So lets all work on ourselves so we can hold our heads high and shoulders back in confidence!
5) Ironlike Emotional Regulation
Improved confidence and focus mean better moods and a clearer mind, resulting in better emotional regulation. Those who are emotionally intelligent are aware of their internal emotions and the feelings of people around them so they do their best to keep the peace.
This doesn’t mean suppressing their emotions but having coping strategies that help them self-regulate negative emotions.
Emotions are a part of everyday life but they often control us and cause a lot of trouble. Peak performers don’t let their emotions spin out of control because they know it can negatively affect their external and internal worlds. Who has time to waste picking up the pieces?
6) Nourishing Life Satisfaction
Because of high levels of engagement, you will feel more accomplished and satisfied with yourself, and your work. Humans are meant to give and share—
But to reach peak performance, you have to have the foundations set.
Based on Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, once we achieve the basic needs of psychological, safety, belonging, and esteem, then can we focus on self-actualization which leads to reaching our fullest potential and being a peak performer.
If you noticed, a pattern among successful people is that the more success you get, the more you tend to teach and share what you learn. Think of thought leaders such as Deepak Chopra, Tim Ferris— they’ve achieved everything so the final natural step is to give back and teach their wisdom.
Don’t worry, if you’re not there yet just continue to focus on the journey because that’s what makes life exciting!
7) More Time
Peak performers know time is money— money can always be made but you’ll never get time back. Let’s spend this precious currency wisely.
Time is a man-made concept. Even Einstein determined that time is relative—in other words, the rate at which time passes depends on your subjective frame of reference.
Peak performers live in a state of flow and when you are in flow, there is suddenly more time because, in this altered state of consciousness, you create your own sense of time.
TL;DR: The Benefits of Peak Performance
- Unshakeable Resilience
- Flexible Agility
- 10x Performance: Better Focus & Productivity
- Complete Confidence
- Ironlike Emotional Regulation
- Nourishing Life Satisfaction
- More Time