The world’s best athletes know that the secret to sustained elite performance is taking regular breaks in order to avoid burn out. They have a recovery strategy in place, and recognize the benefits of investing time, money and resources on recovery just as much as they do on actual training and competition.
Most high performing athletes are conditioned to keep going, just as business leaders are. They rarely, if ever, take days off. Their drive, passion and commitment to excel means that they often ignore the signs of fatigue, stress or exhaustion, and keep going until they collapse and some kind of external incident- such as sickness, illness or a relationship breakdown occurs- causing them to re-assess how they manage their energy. This is one key difference between a high performer and an elite performer.
High Performers Elite Performers
Time spent competing/performing at the highest level 70% 5%
Time spent training/improvement 5% 40%
Time spent sleeping/resting/recuperating 25% 55%
Elite Performers -Olympic athletes are great examples- strategically spend 5% of their time competing at the highest level, 40% of their time training and pushing themselves to develop and refine skills and 55% of their time making sure that they are adequately resting and recuperating – which includes getting quality sleep- so that they can perform at the highest level both during training and in competition.
In contrast, in the business world, we are much less likely to treat our bodies with the same respect. We spend at least 70% of our time competing, pushing ourselves, or working at the highest level, and if we are lucky, we’ll allocate 5% of our time training ourselves to perform tasks with more skill and efficiency. That leaves just 25% of our time left over for rest and recuperation.
I call operating at this level high performance. A lot is accomplished during a short space of time- certainly more than the average person- but at great cost… in this case, over-use and mismanagement of energy to accomplish an end goal. It’s not as efficient as elite performance which nurtures us to perform at the top level while enabling us to sustain ourselves for the long haul. Without elite performance strategies under their belt is it any wonder that so many entrepreneurs burn out so quickly?
I used to dance professionally at a soloist level for a living. Rest was not an option when performing on stage 5 nights a week, it was a necessity…. otherwise my body would have crumbled with the demands I made on it. When I stopped performing and diverted my energy towards developing my coaching business I realized the importance of maintaining the energy mastery skills I had learned as a performer. It doesn’t matter if you’re a world class entertainer, an Olympic athlete or a business leader, the lesson of getting adequate rest so that you can perform in excellence remains the same.
For high performing professional women, taking time for rest and recuperation is a real challenge. We battle with the need to prove ourselves in a male dominated environment. We are wired to nurture and take care of others, often at the cost of ourselves. For those with dependents, the hurdle seems even bigger. If we are to continue to excel we need to model a new paradigm. We need to re-balance the yang with the ying that many female leaders have disconnected with in their rise to the top. If this strikes a chord in you, you are going to love what I have in store for you over the coming weeks. But first, here’s your action step for this week:
Do this test to find out How to Step Up your Performance in the Workplace to an Elite Level
Each day, make a note of the following:
How many hours do you spend working at a high intensity?
How many hours do you spend on training, drilling skills and professional development?
How many hours do you allocate to activities that involve sleep, rest and recuperation?
At the end of the week total your hours in each segment to get your percentages. You’ll then know how much of a shift you need to make in each area to start performing at an elite level, without putting in any additional hours in the office.
Let me know how it goes by posting a comment on your results below.
And, of course, Perform In Excellence.
Leena Patel is the founder and lead facilitator of Elite Performance Coaching; an experiential integration program combining Yoga with cutting edge tools in Positive Psychology, Neuroscience and other modalities to align your body, mind and spirit, and accelerate your performance level for deeper professional impact.