How to Get Back to Peak Performance
No matter how badly you want to get your job done, you just aren’t feeling inspired.
Maybe you’re bored with the work. Maybe company politics are disrupting your concentration. Maybe you feel you are not making the difference you aspire to make in the world.
Whatever the cause, being uninspired on the job is not unusual, but it is frustrating. Time becomes your adversary, responsibilities pile up, and getting anything done feels impossible.
How do you get back to peak performance?
The Two-Step Process for Reinvigorating Your Passion at Work
Step 1: Focus and Clear
The first step is to take yourself into the present. There is no past or future, just the now. When you are in the present, there is no room in your brain for distraction from work. Being in the present stops you from overthinking. It brings you back into what athletes call “being in the zone.”
To get into the present, try an exercise I call “focus and clear.” It will empty your mind of distracting thoughts by putting your full attention on one of your five senses. When you deeply focus on one of your senses, you stop thinking about anything else. Your head clears itself of the unwanted obstacles that prevent you from being inspired to do your work.
For example, try focusing on your breath. Feel the air travel up your nostrils to the roof of your throat, through your mouth, over your tongue, and out over your lips. Repeat this process until your mind is in the moment, focused entirely in the now.
You can do this exercise with any of your senses: focusing on the colors and shades of a table; smelling the scent of a flower; tasting the flavor of coffee; hearing the sounds usually ignored in an office, like the copy machine, footsteps, or an elevator. The more you focus on a sense, the more you will clear your mind of the chatter that has slowed your productivity.
Step 2: Empower a Value
The second step, which should immediately follow focus and clear, is something I call “empowering a value.” If you do not follow this second step, you can easily fall back into the racket that disrupted your passion in the first place.
Values are your rules of conduct, and they are elemental to the actions you take. When a value is empowered, your actions are inspired. However, you can disconnect from a value when circumstances, your work, or the people around you go “wrong,” and this disconnection causes productivity to suffer.
We all have hundreds of values, but we are limited in our ability to connect to them consciously. There are so many values we can empower. Some of the values I have seen used effectively to get back into peak performance include confidence, enthusiasm, happiness, creativity, and strategic thinking.
You can empower a value by identifying a “peak moment” story that inspires that value. Here’s an example of a peak moment I use for the value of confidence:
After graduating from college, I was playing on a softball team. There was one field on which I knew I could hit a home run over the right-field fence every time I went to the plate. Stepping into the batter’s box, I was confident I could hit that home run, and I often did.
This story embodies confidence for me. Every day, I relive that batter’s box experience in my mind; I feel again how I felt at the plate. By owning that story through daily practice, I can empower my value of confidence quickly and easily whenever I want to.
Circumstances can cause us to disconnect from our values: struggling to find new business, being unable to find new candidates for an open position, feeling overwhelmed by the responsibilities on a to-do list, etc. These circumstances often set off alarm bells that inform us when we are disconnecting. These alarm bells include frustration, anger, confusion, boredom, or misunderstanding. Once I am conscious of these bells, I focus and clear into the moment, and then I empower a value such as confidence to re-inspire my actions.
We all have peak moment stories that can bring to life any value we choose. When you focus and clear your mind and then empower a value through a story, that value will encourage your actions. It will clear away the negative thoughts that disconnect you from your work. If it is hard for you to find a personal story to empower a value, think of a scene from your favorite movie or a passage by your favorite author that gives you an emotional high.
The more values you learn to empower, the more possibilities you will have to take passionate action. Different values will lead you down different paths, and you will enjoy your work in the journey, making your goals much easier to reach.
Buddha told us, “We are what we think. All that we are arises with our thoughts. With our thoughts, we make the world.”
Your values characterize your sense of self and are elemental to the actions you take. When you’re disconnected from a value, the chatter in your mind increases. Reaching your goals becomes hard work.
However, when you are working from an empowered value, reaching and surpassing your goals becomes much easier to achieve, and your destiny more fulfilling.
Barney Feinberg, PCC, CPCC, CPA, is the founder and CEO of The Chemistry Factor — Executive Coach and Recruiter. Follow him on Twitter: @chemistryfactor.