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How to prepare for High Sustained Performance

Our business lives are becoming ever more intense, immediate and insecure and this complex and demanding world that you work in, there are always going to be tough days. Your performance on these tough days is what separates you from your competition. The golfer who can perform when the pressure is the highest and the fatigue has set in (day 4, on the final 4 holes) is the one who will win more often. The fire chief who can process information the best, keep emotions under control, under stress, and maximise performance over the duration of the fire (their tough day) is the one who will be most effective and save the most lives.

Unfortunately, the big difference between the professional golfer and the fire chief, and most executives I have met, in the many enterprises I engage with, is that the first two actually diligently prepare for their tough days. Of course there is always "the argument" (a nice way to say "the excuse") that you don't have enough time. If you don't have the time to prepare -do you have time to pay for the outcomes of sub excellent performance? You can engineer for high sustained performance and I have seen many examples where this is done and performance is significantly enhanced in both the work and home environment. We have the data.

The fact is, we will all have tough days so we better be prepared for them. That is why we take clients through a planning process to purposefully and strategically prepare them for these days. Here are a few of the key ways our most successful clients prepare for their tough days:
  • set clear and concise intentions for the day and for each meeting/event in the day.
  • start the day with some movement, even 5 to 10 minutes can turn on the whole brain, reduce anxiety and create the optimal performance state for the day.
  • start the day with a "high performance" breakfast to raise the brain's acetylcholine levels for sustained high performance (eggs, avocados, blueberries, wheat germ, nuts/seeds).
  • carry high performance snacks (balanced with protein, fat, and complex carbohydrates)with you, to keep your blood sugar steady.
  • take mini-breaks between events, even 5 minutes with centred breathing can have a big impact on brain performance, your emotional state, and the accumulation of stress throughout the day.
  • take advantage of every small movement opportunity throughout the day, taking the stairs, walking between buildings, standing in meetings, which can improve lympth flow, generate energy, and keep your brain firing on all cylinders
  • take 1 minute between events/meetings to quickly reflect (write it down) on what went well. This is a great way to keep your confidence high, help you bring your best to your next meeting, hard wire your brain for success, and re balance your autonomic nervous system.
  • keep your portion sizes small, staying below 500/600 calories (and remember great hydration) can prevent your digestive system from stealing all your energy and help keep your brain sharp.
These are just a few simple, non time consuming ideas but if you incorporate these into your tough days, you will see a significant difference. The truth is, your toughest, craziest, busiest, days are also the days that are most bursting with game changing opportunities. The problem is, if you aren't prepared for them, you will spend too much time feeling overwhelmed to make the most of these opportunities.

On the personal front, at the turn of the year i was challenged by a series of health issues, at the heart of which was Prostate cancer. After 5 months, having had my prostate surgically removed, I am 100 pct clear of the cancer. Of course a great medical team was key, and I was blessed with having them. However again, detailed and laser sharp preparation at every step of the journey has been crucial in the build up to and during the operation and recovery. Movement, breathing exercises, great nutrition, mind set and recovery techniques, including plenty of deep sleep has been crucial.

This is why we say, Sustainable High Performance doesn't happen by luck or chance. It must be a choice and it must be designed. I'm really curious to hear what you think and contact us to find out more.

Paul Preston

Paul Preston also works as an international associate for tèn company. He divides his time between his homes in London and Lisbon. Please find Paul's biography here.
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