How to develop a top performer’s mindset

Now, more than ever we have the opportunity to reframe and change our behaviors. Amidst the Covid-19 outbreak take time to reflect how you may have lived your life going from fire drill to fire drill, never allowing time for your own development, or the time necessary for strategic planning. Alternatively, you can exert pressure to insist others respect some boundary conditions which includes time for you to plan your meetings, your day, your week, your, month, and your life.

Live an extraordinary life

One of the surest and fastest ways to become extraordinary in your life pursuits is to learn the art of planning from the masters, like Imhotep (2667-2600 BCE), the architect of the Step Pyramid of Saqqara, Egypt. Imhotep developed an elaborate plan that resulted in the creation of the oldest pyramid in Egypt, one that is still in existence today. Imhotep was not derived from Egyptian royalty, but rather a commoner. However, due to his intellect, training and planning ability ascended to become an engineer, physician, and architect for the Pharaoh Zoser

No meaningful project can be completed without a plan        

The most important project requiring your attention is developing your life map and planning your daily work. Developing a personal navigation guide and worklist is designed to keep you on course. Even if you have a mature career and internal thoughts about your life plan, taking the time to draft it on paper (or on the computer), is important. Start by charting where you want to be in 6 months, 1 year, 5 – 20 years; each step will bear fruit.

“The world steps aside for a person who knows what they want.” ~ Anonymous

Pat Riley, Coach of the Los Angeles Lakers, and New York Nicks, is fond of saying “plan your work, work your plan.” As many of us know, Pat Riley is noted as one of the best NBA coaches of all times, he won five NBA Championship games and was voted Head Coach of the Year not once, but three times!

Chart and record your progress

Equally important to developing a plan is to chart and record your progress. This need not be elaborate at first. Simply calendaring your day and week, or starting a diary, quite satisfactory initial ways of charting plans and measuring progress. As more sophisticated projects emerge, and as your goals increase along with your confidence, guideposts for success should be developed and attempts made to adhere to them. 

Make your goals realistic, make them tangible, and quantifiable; similarly, make the milestones for success simple and quantifiable, but make them.

Measurement of your success and noting where improvements and changes need to occur constitute important elements to your continued achievement and success. Peter Drucker, an internationally renowned management consultant, is often quoted with the phrase “You can’t manage what you can’t measure.” Others attributed this concept to Karl Pearson, the famous statistician and founder of mathematical statistics, by quoting Pearson’s Law: “That which is measured improves. That which is measured and reported improves exponentially.”

Long before these mid-twentieth-century promoters of measurement, came Sanctorio Sanctorius (1562-1636), a Venetian physiologist, physician, and professor who introduced the quantitative approach to medicine, and heralded the first written principles on the dictum of charting and maintaining lab notes during experimentation. Sanctorio Sanctorius is credited with first declaring “that which is measured can be improved.”

Antiquity has compiled even earlier examples of measurements routinely taken to predict success, such as the Egyptian Nilometer at Elephantine Island, in use for more than 2,000 years, used to measure the depth of water at the border of upper Egypt and lower Nibia. The value of the Nilometer measurements were well known to early Egyptian leaders for its ability to reliably predict the season of inundation from low water and famine to high water and destruction, versus the preferred balance between the two, which harkened a good harvest with minimal need for emergency measures.

You may ask: How does planning and charting one’s progress on projects lead to creativity, inspiration and improve cognition?

  • Frist by developing plans, by virtue of the work, summons creative energy, some of which is subliminal, in order to achieve the task.
  • Next, documenting ideas, and listing them in an organized fashion, allows for others to grasp the intent of the initial architect of the ideas, and allows them the opportunity to provide insights.
  • The third benefit of putting ideas to paper (or computer or tablet screen) is that to create sentences that make sense to others requires that logic errors are minimized, and sets the foundation of understanding for the next iteration of project development, hence accelerating meaningful completion of the task toward a shared mental model for all stakeholders.
  • Fourth, the consequent freedom of the brain to ponder other matters (the idea is no longer locked inside the brain), without the unnecessary traffic of anxiety, intrusive thoughts, uncluttering the brain, and freeing one to pursue other thoughts, allowing for improvements in Cognitive Performance. Because initial ideas that are now documented on paper (or digitally), allows the brain to increase clarity and creativity that can be brought to more effective problem-solving.
  • Fifth, and finally, because the brain is unburdened of the mental traffic of ideas now captured in the plan, it is easier to take advantage of periods of rest, meditation, and sleep. The restorative nature of the rest periods will be more productive, allowing the subconscious brain to better problem solve, and solutions will emerge for previously vexing problems that were themselves difficult to imagine.

Recording and reviewing your success journal allows the brain to recall your greatness

To increase your confidence and accelerate progress toward your unique goals and pursuits, record any progress and insights on a daily basis, using whatever medium works for you (paper & pen, vs. digital). These recordings will become the new foundation of success, and a repository for your basic chores, and creative thoughts. Very soon thereafter, tangible positive results will be manifest, and you will have a record of your multiple successes.

As part of drafting your plan(s), and charting your course, you must accept that there will be setbacks along the way, there always are. Don’t let these roadblocks disturb you. Learn from them and make a course correction. You will need to support yourself with internal motivation, inspiration, and sub-plans to reach your destination. If you get stuck or lack motivational drive, reach a cognitive performance coach who teaches brain-based strategies so you can overcome the mental or emotional obstacles in your way. Cognitive performance strategies are built to improve the condition of your body, mind, and overall quality of life.