09/04/2014 06:45 pm ET Updated Nov 04, 2014

5 Things Life's High Performers Know and Master

Martin Barraud via Getty Images

In today's hyper-paced society it can be challenging to keep up with the rate of change. Especially if you are someone who is constantly looking to achieve high performance in life. In our quest to always be one step ahead and succeeding we often look for new and innovative ways to stay ahead.

One slight problem though is that we forget some of the fundamentals along the way. I've always wanted to be the best that I could be and so have made it my quest to understand what it takes to achieve high performance.

Here are five traits to high performance that I have noticed and that you can implement straight away.

1. Learn to say NO

There are mixed messages around this piece of advice because often it's said that the way to get ahead is to say "yes" to everything and put yourself out there. While there is some truth in that (things are rarely so black and white), it's only good up to a point. Those people most successful in business, health, relationships and other endeavours have learnt to say no.

High performers know that in order to be a high performer at something -- they'll have to say "No" to many things.

It's a tough one for most people, but the sense of liberation that comes with being confident and comfortable saying "no" to things will do more to allow you to reach high performance than saying "yes" to everything. Just ask Richard Branson how many great opportunities he has to say "no" to every week. And he's done alright for himself.

2. Get enough SLEEP

Sleep is so crucial to high performance that without adequate regular sleep you will do untold damage to your health, relationships, career and just about every other area of your life. Not getting enough sleep affects mood, decision making, focus, energy levels, weight and overall health to name but a few. The fact is, that most people need seven to nine hours of good quality sleep a night. There are exceptions, as always.

Everyone is different of course, but the thing to recognise is just how much you really need to function optimally and then make getting it a priority. If getting enough overnight isn't viable and your working day allow, consider taking a short siesta. I recommend just 30 minutes. Any more and you enter deeper sleep phases and will probably find it challenging to sleep in the evening at your usual time.


Long thought to be something left to the mystics of the East or something only 'New Agers' might practise. More and more high performers (like CEO's and top athletes) are "coming out of the closet" so to speak, and admitting that they practise some form of meditation, guided breath work or similar relaxation techniques. And why not? All the while the research on mediation is growing but several studies have shown the benefits to one's focus, health, pain threshold, stress levels and of course, in relation to point #2 above -sleep.

Elisabeth Blackburn (Nobel laureate) even showed that meditation can keep a healthy telomere length. Telomeres are lengths at the end of chromosomes which protect them from damage. It's thought that the health of these telomeres plays a crucial role in the ageing process. Does this mean we'll be able to slow down or even reverse the ageing process? Who knows? Perhaps...?

4. On the lookout to LEARN

All high performers that I've come across and also studied have always been ferocious learners. If you look to nature it also gives you clues. Things either grow or they die. Part of our own human growth is tied to that of learning continuously. Learning is not only essential to keep pace with everyone else (if you're not learning and growing, then others are, so even if you 'stay the same' you'll be left behind), but it's also essential to your ability to be a high performer in your desired area.

You don't have to be continually enrolled in courses or schools. There's a plethora of books, audios and online courses at your fingertips that you can access.

And learning also helps to make you feel more energized -- which is convenient as it's point #5. Just think back to when you were last really learning something really interesting that you were keen to understand and develop from. Was it easier to get going in the morning? Feel motivated? Did it give you a sense of energy?

5. Manage you ENERGY

This is the crux of it in my experience and opinion. If you want to have high performance in your life, then you simply must have the energy for it. Everything in the universe stems from energetic interplay between particles - and humans are no different. If you want to be a high performer in life, you simply can't afford to compromise in this area.

Energy management is a diverse thing. But it's not complex. I see it as falling into four distinct areas, that if you get right, will give you energy when you need it. I call this model the 'Energy B.E.A.T. Model™' which encompass the four foundational areas of energetic living. B is for brain (your mindset and psychology among other things). E is for eat and is all about how you nourish your body (not just from food but a number of other areas). A is for activity (of which exercise is just a small part). And T is for tranquility (only part of which is sleep). These are my keys to energetic living and if ever I feel de-energized, I ask myself what is it that's making me feel off B.E.A.T™ today? and then I look at the four quadrants with a set of specifically designed questions to help me assess what's needed. It always, always works.

So there you have it. Five things to consider focussing on if you want high performance in whatever you do.