I feel compelled to share more wisdom that anyone in search of expert performance can appreciate. All the excerpts in this post are taken from an article written by Tony Schwartz, and it’s advice to live by for anyone in search of peak performance.
“Pursue what you love. Passion is an incredible motivator. It fuels focus, resilience, and perseverance.”
Passion and its importance can’t be overstated. If you can’t find a way to fall in love with your position and motivate yourself to pursue greatness then you’ll probably never achieve your full potential.
“Do the hardest work first. We all move instinctively toward pleasure and away from pain. Most great performers, Ericsson and others have found, delay gratification and take on the difficult work of practice in the mornings, before they do anything else. That’s when most of us have the most energy and the fewest distractions.”
Deliberate practice isn’t supposed to be easy. We all enjoy the dopamine drip of doing something we’ve mastered. But let’s face it, if you’re still practicing then you’re probably not an expert yet, and “flow” is a self-help myth that doesn’t exist when in search of optimal performance.
“Practice intensely, without interruption for short periods of no longer than 90 minutes and then take a break. Ninety minutes appears to be the maximum amount of time that we can bring the highest level of focus to any given activity. The evidence is equally strong that great performers practice no more than 4 ½ hours a day.”
This shouldn’t be a problem for a specialist. A 90 minute workout is ample time to cover all aspects of a thorough workout, and get the most out of oneself.
“Seek expert feedback, in intermittent doses. The simpler and more precise the feedback, the more equipped you are to make adjustments. Too much feedback, too continuously can create cognitive overload, increase anxiety, and interfere with learning.”
We all need a solid fundamental framework, and a good staring point for this foundation is a skilled coach. There is no substitute for an experienced voice and a set of trained eyes. With that being said, it’s equally important to focus on mastering one facet of your game at a time and avoid unnecessary complexity.
“Take regular renewal breaks. Relaxing after intense effort not only provides an opportunity to rejuvenate, but also to metabolize and embed learning. It’s also during rest that the right hemisphere becomes more dominant, which can lead to creative breakthroughs.”
We can all get burned-out. This is something any kicker needs to avoid through the use of scheduled breaks and routine down-time.
“Ritualize practice. Will and discipline are wildly overrated. As the researcher Roy Baumeisterhas found, none of us have very much of it. The best way to insure you’ll take on difficult tasks is to build rituals — specific, inviolable times at which you do them, so that over time you do them without having to squander energy thinking about them.”
We all have to battle our natural instinct to do the bare minimum required for acceptable performance. In this vein, it’s important to embrace the fact that productive practice isn’t meant to be easy, but the gratification that comes from extraordinary performance is well worth the effort.