Up Your Game: Becoming a High Performer

When you watch the World Cup, Olympics or SEA Games, it may be tempting to think that the medal winners are simply born talented. The reality, however, is that their high performance is built on countless hours of practice and driven by smart training.

The same applies in the workplace. High corporate performers have put in the hours to build crucial experience, and they continually push themselves to learn and improve.

If you are keen to up your game at work, here are three ways you can boost your performance by following the lead of elite athletes.

1. Train individual skills

Professional basketball players don’t train by simply playing game after game of basketball. Instead, their training breaks down the sport into many separate components, such as shooting, speed and agility, strength, and tactics.

Corporate leaders can raise their game with a similar approach. What are the different components of your role or profession? Depending on your industry and background, these may include people management, financial planning or mastering new technologies, to name a few examples.

Trying to boost your performance by simply willing yourself to be better at your role as a whole is unlikely to help. Instead, focus on individual components of your role – perhaps one per quarter – and take practical steps to improve your capabilities in those specific areas.

Whether you read a book, take an online course or attend a conference, homing in on one skill at a time will increase the likelihood of seeing tangible results and will ultimately lead to better overall performance.

2. Learn from your failures

In competitive sports, there is generally only one winner. Does that mean that all the professional athletes who finish in second place or at the bottom of the table simply throw in the towel and give up?

Of course not. Instead, they analyse their performance to assess where they excelled and where they lagged in order to learn from their failures and come back stronger in the next competition.

Whether in sports or in business, high performance is not about reaching a specific level. Rather, it’s about striving for continuous improvement as you reach ever higher. As a leader, you have an opportunity for learning and improvement every time you fail or your team faces a setback. Seizing these opportunities will keep you on an upward trajectory overall, even if you don’t finish in first place every time.

3. Step away to recharge

Elite athletes typically don’t compete year-round. Most sports have an off-season during which everyone takes a break, and with good reason: athletes need time off to recharge physically, mentally and emotionally from the strain of competition.

High performance in the corporate world is similar. Although you are striving to perform at your best on a sustained basis, but that doesn’t mean 24/7, 365 days per year.

Taking time away from work for an off-season recharge can help you push your performance one step higher upon your return. This is a valuable opportunity to explore other personal interests, build deeper connections with family and friends, and come back to work with fresh perspectives.

Smart strategies for better performance

Becoming a high performer is not a journey you can make overnight. However, you can make it a smoother and smarter journey by taking inspiration from the sporting world.

For elite athletes and business leaders alike, high performance requires a desire for improvement and a commitment to ongoing growth. By focusing on targeted improvement, learning from your mistakes and stepping away to recharge from time to time, you can up your game at work.

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