A friend that I told about my goal to climb Mount Rwenzori shared something profound with me. He told me not to focus on the mountain climb just for the peak itself, but also to focus on the person I would become during the process – a peak performer. I was reminded of that statement again yesterday, as I watched a dvd titled “Attaining Exceptional Performance”.
Exceptional performance (which I equate with peak performance), is about delivering results while exceeding expectations, it’s about giving 110%, it’s about going that extra mile, it’s about going beyond good to great. Exceptional performance is about stretching yourself, living beyond your limits, setting a new bar for yourself, being intentional about growth, it’s about being willing to pay the price. You don’t just wake up one morning and become exceptional, you have to work at it, long, hard and consistently.
Looking back at the journey we’ve done so far, in preparation for the climb, I can say that we have learned several lessons about being peak performers and I’ll share just a few:
- Peak performers know there is a price to pay and are willing to pay it: just yesterday, some of my climbing mates and I were having a conversation about how much the preparation has cost us in financial terms, and we didn’t even want to think about just how much we’ve spent so far. We’ve had to pay for exercise, we’ve had to pay for climbing equipment, and those that participated in the smoothie challenge had to buy the right gadgets to make the right kind of smoothies, and so on. To be an exceptional performer, you have to invest money.
- Peak performers plan well: peak performance is not accidental, it is intentional, and one way to show intentionality is to plan. Planning helps eliminate, or at least strongly minimize excuses. Planning saves time. Planning means you are thinking about what you are doing. Planning well means that you are learning the art of being organized. Being organized reduces stress.
- Peak performers do what it takes, no matter what: I shared the other day that we’ve done several long walks to improve our endurance and stamina. And very often we have started the walks quite early in the day – most times at 5:00 a.m. This means that at the very least – depending on where one stays in relation to the starting point for the climb – one has to get up by 3:30 a.m. forgo sleep and drive long distances in order to be there on time.
- Peak performers push themselves: during the physical preparation for the climb, we have pushed ourselves quite a lot. The Boot Camp sessions with George have been especially helpful in this regard. Very often, at the end of the work out, you look back and can’t believe how you got through the tough, physically challenging and grueling exercise – but we do, and with each session we get stronger, push ourselves a bit further, and grow a bit more. It’s not always fun. It’s not always easy, but it’s always worth it.
- Peak performers stay the course no matter what, they are goal oriented: we have stuck to our goal despite discouragement from friends or family or even discouragement from within ourselves. At various points we have felt like giving up, but we have pressed on. We have found ways to encourage each other both individually and as a group.
- Peak performance takes as much individual effort as it does team effort: every one of us has had to put in their best for the preparation as an individual, but we have also been greatly helped by working as a team. I don’t think I could have done the 6 hour walk in Mabira if I had been alone, I don’t think I would have climbed the 23 floors of Workers House several times if I wasn’t walking with one of my team mates, I don’t think I would have stayed as consistent with exercise as I have done, if I wasn’t working out with my team mates, if I didn’t have people to encourage me on the way and keep me accountable. Team is very important in attaining peak performance.
- Peak performers learn to prioritize: we have had to give up things, forgo things and fit things into our schedules in such a way as to stay focused on our goal. One learns to sieve what is important or not. One learns to do away with the things that hinder the larger goal.
- Peak performers understand that the journey is just as important as the final destination. You cannot despise the journey and glorify the destination. You cannot be haphazard in the journey and expect to be exceptional at the top. The journey and the peak are interlinked. One helps you get to the other. How you get to the top is just as important as the top itself – if not more. Journey matters, and so we pay attention to the journey, we are serious about the journey. And we will get to the top. The peak is in sight.