In this post we’ll uncover the science of high performing habits from the ground up. We’ll go deep into the root of positive psychology with one of its founders, Mihaly Csikzentmihalyi.
We’ll expand into practical habits from Tony Robbins, Brendon Burchard, and other leaders in peak performance.
These high-performance coaches have spent years researching and training the top-performing habits and behaviors. They have used this knowledge to train celebrities, athletes, presidents and the world’s richest and most successful people.
Let’s begin with one of the people who started it all. The co-founder of modern positive psychology.
The Father Of Success Psychology
On the Science of Success podcast, Matt Bodnar interviews a legend of personal high achievement, Mihaly Csikszentmihali (Pronounced “Me-high Chicks-Send-Me-High” so it’s easy to remember).
The distinguished professor of psychology is most well-known for his work on Flow, the psychology of optimal experience.
Matt begins by asking Mihaly about trauma, and why it affects people in different ways. This led Mihaly into a beautiful rabbit hold of ideas which we’ll break down here.
Perception Creates Reality
Some people might respond positively, and others negatively, to the same external event. Mihaly says that the distinction is in how much someone focuses on themselves versus things ‘beyond’ themselves. If your perception is on your own problems and concerns, then you’ll be more likely to respond negatively.
Mihaly also says that it’s based on our identities and what we identify with. A person with a strong identity in a certain family, group, religion or otherwise, will create certain boundaries around their identity. You choose what will upset you in advance, by deciding on your own personality and identity first.
A Larger Perception
The secret is to have a larger and more stable perception of reality. Connect yourself to humanity, which is larger than any single group, religion or section. Look deeper into the atoms of our body. You’ll see that we’re all born from the universe, and on a real physical level we are all connected.
Expand your perception to outside of yourself. You’ll be more likely to look at your problems and trauma with a positive and expansive view.
Masters of Our Fate
“I am the master of my fate: I am the captain of my soul.”
– William Ernest Henley
Mihaly explains how we decide our own lives. We decide whether to get upset about one thing or another. We decide to look outside of ourselves to others and try to help them when we can. The decision to set goals and take action to achieve them is ours alone. Life, in fact, is malleable. We can change it with our thoughts, words and actions. We are the masters of our fate.
Flow & Happiness
Asking about the relationship between flow and happiness, Mihaly clears up what they are and how to achieve them. He says that happiness is a stance to life that doesn’t change all that much day to day. You can improve this by looking outside of yourself and having a larger perception towards life.
Flow comes and goes depending on the moment. If your life is full of flow, then you’ll live a joyful life. If not, it will fill up with boredom. Flow, as the optimal experience is something we all strive towards every day. Those moments of bliss where you get lost in looking at art and using your creative imagination, or looking at a sunset disappear over the horizon, wondering where the time went. Those are moments of flow.
You might get flow from reading, or writing, or perhaps playing an instrument. In his book, Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience, Mihaly goes deeper into this concept and explains how you can find flow in everyday activities from walking to washing up, and its a way of life that transforms a person.
How To Create Flow Daily
To create flow every day, we must set two conditions. You must see a challenge that you think you can deal with and have the skills to do something about that challenge. You may want to start a business, learn an instrument, or develop a skill. If you’re brand new, then start with an easy challenge, and build up towards harder challenges. Keep building your skill and increase the challenge as you go, to continue to stay in flow.
Shape Your Destiny
Every day, set an intention of the challenges and skills you’ll work on. If you do this daily with an open mind and realistic perspective, you’ll experience growth and happiness like you’ve never felt before. You’ll shape your destiny every day and create a life of happiness and fulfilment.
A Master of Destiny
Another master of his destiny, Lewis Howes, interviews Brendon Burchard on his School of Greatness Podcast. Lewis is a former pro athlete and world record holder in football and is now a bestselling author. Brendon Burchard is a world leading high performance coach and multiple best-selling author on high performance. He has trained 2 million students in his courses, and appeared in Oprah magazine, Forbes, and Success magazine as one the highest paid motivation and marketing trainers.
Brendon’s book High Performance Habits goes deep into the best habits that turn people into extraordinary living legends through the right behaviors and actions.
Lewis says that he’s had an obsession with greatness for a long time, and he asked Brendon about his Harvard backed scientific studies of greatness. Brendon shared his 6 high performance habits that are the keys to success.
6 High Performance Habits
Brendon surveyed 10 million fans in 195 countries and his 2 million customers who’ve signed up for his training. He scraped through tens of thousands of habits and found the top 15-20 habits that everyone agrees are the most important.
He then broke these down into 6 habits and split them into two categories, personal and social habits. We’ll look at these habits, and if you want to know more, then check out his full book or listen to the podcast in full.
3 Personal Habits of High Performance
Brendon said that when he worked with Oprah, she would start each meeting by asking, “What’s the intention of this meeting?”. She was seeking clarity at the start of every meeting, and every day of her life. This is one habit that all successful people do continuously.
Great people have vision, as Lewis points out, the greatest leaders in the world all had vision. Brendon agreed with Lewis and adds that the world cares less about your strengths and personality, and more about the service and value that you create in the world. You must do both, but the research shows that high performance people don’t work on their strengths any more than the average person.
High performers can generate energy so they can maintain focus during their work. Later we’ll see how Tony Robbins brings energy into everything he does, and how to optimize your day for maximum energy.
You must require yourself to have high performance and tap into the reasons you want to perform so well. It comes back to seeking clarity, only now you are doing it with a focus on necessity. Know your “Why” behind what you do, and attach your personality, family, values, identity and beliefs towards this outcome. The stronger you make this essential drive, the higher your chances of success.
There are also 3 social habits Brendon discovered that worked across all high performers he studied. We will look at these before moving into some deeper pillars of high performance.
3 Social Habits of High Performance
Brendon says you should focus on your prolific quality output (PQO) and focus on increasing your productivity in your primary field of interest. This requires the constant act of removing distractions, even if they might look like excellent opportunities, and stop anything from stealing your precious productive focus.
Having influence on people around you helps in every area of your life from business to relationships. High performers could shift the energy of other people, and control where the conversation led. Brendon adds that you must develop a positive network of people who will be there to support you on your way to success.
High performers take bold action and stand for what they believe in, even if everyone is telling them the opposite. It takes effort and force of will to use courage daily, so it’s a skill that that must be sharpened all the time.
In another podcast on the Brendon Burchard show, Brendon goes deeper into the fundamental drivers of success. He looks at four pillar habits to start right away that will lead to high performance.
4 Pillar Habits To Start Now
These pillars are essential for growth because, as Brendon says, the more you grow, the harder the challenges become. The more you try to accomplish, the bigger the messes and responsibility. Your team grows larger, and your influence expands, putting more pressure on your shoulders and more power to deal with.
“With great power comes great responsibility”
– Uncle Ben
We’ll break down these habits here and explain how to apply them in your life right away.
The first pillar is your psychology. Brendon explains that you can have peace within the chaos. The kids, the bills, the house and the career stresses can all disappear with peace among the chaos. If you’re bitter or upset, complaining that things aren’t going right or that you feel like a victim, then you’re succumbing to the chaos. You must ask yourself, “How would I work as my best self even in times of chaos and stress”, and you’ll come out on top.
Your physical body is a major part of your habits and wellbeing. You should know yourself and what works for you most. Everyone’s metabolic conditioning is different, so the better you know yourself and your habits, the better you can adjust.
Drink more water in the day and add energising workouts like a yoga session or a set of burpees to your daily routine. Do it in the morning for even better effects and give yourself a physiology boost for the entire day.
Brendon explains that in marketing, a deadline is everything to an offer. The product is launching on a certain date, so everything has to get done and promoted and prepared before that happens. In productivity itself, a deadline is everything towards focus and achievement.
If you just follow these two steps, you’ll be 30% more productive. The two steps are “Intent”, and “Time Blocking”.
Time Blocking: Set times for when you’ll be sitting down to get a certain task done. Plan this ahead of time in a week plan or month plan so on the day you know what time you should be working. Every day, when your time block begins, be ready at the location where you’ll do the work.
Intent: Most people work randomly with no intent, and this leads to distraction and delays. Brendon says to close your eyes, focus on the task you’re about to do, give yourself a time to do it, i.e. 20m or 30m, and then set a timer and go. Have this pure focused intent before each time block and set your timer for 20-30m for the task at hand. This alone will increase your performance.
Going back to persuasion as a core habit for high performers, Brendon now breaks down a practical exercise you can start right away that will help you develop this practice.
Using Energy In Persuasion
Your challenge is to change someone’s energy. If someone is in a bad mood, make them feel better. When they feel sad, try to make them happy. If they are glad, make them excited. Next time you’re with someone, be it in a group, or family or friend, try to lead the energy in that environment.
People have forgotten that they have this power. Most people use energy as an excuse, thinking it’s happening to them, but it’s a force that’s created from within, and we have all the power to control it. Brendon sees it as a moral obligation to use this power responsibly and to improve peoples energy.
Brendon reminds us not to be lazy with this power. We are a role model to our kids, to our spouse, to our friends, and to all the people who interact with us. We must become a role model of high energy, positivity and high performance, and we’ll uplift the people around us and increase this pillar of high performance in our own lives.
The Energy Master
Tony Robbins is a master of changing his own state and the state of others. For years he has trained thousands of people in massive crowds and has helped millions of people through audiobooks and training courses to improve their own energy.
On a podcast with Tim Ferris, Tim interviews Tony to uncover how he coaches high performance athletes, celebrities, CEO’s, presidents and professional traders. Tony has advised Bill Clinton, Serena Williams, Leonardo DiCaprio and Oprah, who refers to him as “superhuman”.
Tim Ferris is also a high performance expert with bestselling books like the 4 Hour Work Week that teaches people how to have high performance in their career and financial goals. Tim asked Tony about some of his morning routines, and from his answers we can see all the habits of high performance unfolding.
Tony’s Priming Techniques
Tony loves doing cryotherapy, putting his body through extreme cold and then hot to shock his system. He combines this with ice-baths and cold plunges, which wake his body every day.
He then does explosive jumping, clapping, and rapid based breathing for 30 breaths. This priming of his physiology is what Brendon was talking about earlier. When you prime your body for high energy and movement, then your behaviors are set on “Achievement” mode for the rest of the day.
Tony completes his morning routine with music to uplift him, and deep gratitude that he doesn’t just think about, but feels in every part of his body. This exercise of priming the body and ending in gratitude, is one of the key secrets of high performance individuals.
Tony takes us a little deeper into some of his advice on high performance, and we’ll finish the article on this note.
NBA Superstar Coach Pat Riley
On a Tony Robbins podcast he reveals how he worked with Pat Riley, the now President of the Miami Heat and former coach and player in the NBA. Pat made his practices brutal, harder than the games themselves, and his thinking was that if he prepared the player for brutal practice, then they would be ready for any game.
Pat’s 25% Mistake
After losing one of their last games, Pat was frustrated and told his team they had to perform 25% better next time. The team avoided him, and he lost rapport with the players. Their training deteriorated and that’s when Pat talked to Tony.
Tony asked Pat “Do you need them to be 25% better?” to which Pat said that he didn’t, he just needed them to be 10% better. Pat thought the extra push of 25% would inspire them to do more work.
Tony explained that Pat went over their “threshold of belief”. They already felt like they were doing 100%, so adding 25% more was impossible. Tony told Pat to go back to the team, apologize, and tell them just to “do our best next time”.
Be Just 1% Better
Tony explained that people push back to what you tell them, so if you say they should do 25% better, they will push back and say that’s impossible. However, if you say “just do 1% better”, then they will fight you on that and try to do even more.
Pat went back to the team and told them to improve just 1%, but in 5 areas, dribbling, blocking shots, defence work, etc. The players thought “1% is too easy” and they all ended up working much harder. The secret however is when you add up all the improvements, it ends up being more than the original goal. If 5 players improve 1% in five areas each, that’s 25% total improvement.
After this advice, the team crushed the championships and began the Laker legacy we know today.
Tony explains that we can use this combination of psychology and focus control to improve our state and therefore our performance any time we want. Changing your focus is shifting from that 25% impossible goal, to that 1% “easy” goal that you can always overachieve on. Changing your physiology requires you to do exercises and practices that wake your body up for example clapping, jumping in the air, or doing an ice bath.
When you know you can change your reality using just your mind, and you focus on small 1% changes every day, practicing the daily habits of these high performers, you’ll become a high performing individual yourself. You’ll achieve more, learn more, influence more people to be better, and be a bright light shining on the world.
Conclusions & Key Takeaways
Let’s recap some of the key takeaways and points that we learned in this article.
The father of Flow psychology taught us that our perception creates reality. He says that happiness is a state that stays the same day to day, whereas we must practice flow every day as it comes and goes. You can create flow by setting the right challenge for your skill level and practicing those skills daily to shape your own destiny.
Lewis Howes uncovers the 6 high performance habits from Brendon Burchard who broke them down into 6 key habits within 2 areas. The first area is Personal high performance habits.
You must “Seek Clarity” in your life by asking deep questions and creating missions statements for life. “Generate Energy” by using your physiology and priming yourself for action. “Raise Necessity” by tapping into the reasons “why” you must do well.
Brendon’s social habits are to “Increase Productivity” where you focus on your prolific quality output and work to remove distractions and opportunities that steal your focus. “Develop Influence” with those around you by shifting the energy of those you interact with. “Demonstrate Courage” by facing your fears, taking bold action, and standing up for what you believe in.
Brendon goes deeper into 4 pillars that define high performance. These are your Psychology, your Physiology, your Productivity and your Persuasion. These overlap with the previous habits and show how these pillars are essential in holding up your high performance palace.
Tony Robbins, coach and teacher to presidents, athletes and celebrities, teaches us to step through our fear and develop positive habits.
He shares how to prime yourself with a priming routine that include ice baths, cold showers, clapping routine and fast paced breathing exercises. Tony teaches that we should focus on just becoming 1% better in every area, so we always overachieve and do better than we ever hoped.
With these secrets of high performance, you now have the keys to a new kingdom of success. It’s time for you to unlock your new reality and create your future.