Words of Wisdom from High Performance Habits: How Extraordinary People Become That Way by Brendon Burchard

Words of Wisdom from High Performance Habits: How Extraordinary People Become That Way by Brendon Burchard

High Performance Habits: How Extraordinary People Become That Way by Brendon Burchard is one of my all-time favourite books. My copy of this book is dog-eared and bursting with Post-it notes and highlighted sections, because it is JAM-PACKED with gems from Brendon’s life experiences, as well as inspiring stories from the high performers he has worked with. This book is top of my list of recommended reading and I will be gifting a copy to each of my children when they are old enough to appreciate the wisdom between the pages. Please, please, PLEASE – do yourself a favour and READ THIS BOOK! In the meantime, enjoy my ‘edited’ list of key take-aways…

  1. Do what you want to be

“I found the highest performing clients report thinking about their ideal future self and engaging activities related to that almost sixty minutes more per week then the lowest-scoring clients. For example, if you see yourself as a great communicator in the future, you would not only be more likely to imagine scenarios of yourself speaking with others, but also spend more time doing so. You’re actively doing things that exhibit a future characteristic you desire.”

2. Ask yourself this question, EVERY DAY

“LIVE. LOVE. MATTER. These three words became my clarity checkpoint in life. Every night, lying in bed just before dozing off, I would ask myself, “Did I live fully today? Did I love? Did I matter?“ I’ve asked those questions of myself every night for over twenty years. The truth is, I don’t always go to bed with a resounding “Yes!” to all three questions. I have bad days, just like anyone else. But the nights that I can say yes to those questions – when I feel clear and on track – are the nights I sleep best. That simple practice has given me more clarity than anything else I’ve done in life. Today, I still wear a bracelet engraved with those three words. I don’t need the bracelet. I don’t need to continue asking the questions. But I do because it keeps me clear and on track.”

3. Learn

“It turns out that executives who score higher on the HPI tend to have more blocks of time already scheduled for learning than do their peers with lower scores. There’s an hour blocked out here for taking an online training, another there for executive coaching, another for reading, and yet another for a mastery-orientated hobby (piano, language and learning, cooking class, and so on). They’ve built a curriculum for themselves and are actively engaged in learning.”

4. Be a specialist

“Here’s the distinction: High performers are also working on skills that focus on what I call their primary field of interest (PFI). They aren’t scattershot learners. They’ve homed in on their passionate interests, and they set up activities or routines to develop skill in those areas. If they love music, they laser in on what kind of music they want to learn, and then study it. Their PFI is specific. They don’t just say “music” and then try to learn all forms of music – playing guitar, joining an orchestra, singing with a band. They choose, say a five string guitar, find a master teacher, and make time for practice sessions that focus more on skill building than on casual exploration…This means high-performers approach their learning not as generalists but as specialists.”

5. Be strategic with your personal development

“If you leave your growth to randomness, you’ll always live in the land of mediocrity.”

6. Set clear goals

“No goals, no growth. No clarity, no change.”

7. What makes you come alive?

“Don’t ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive, and go and do it. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.” – Howard Thurman

8. Choose your feelings

“For high level athletes and performers from all walks of life, flow is a feeling they choose. It is summoned, not a lucky emotion that conveniently happens to show up just in time for kick-off.”

9. How do you want to feel?

“In your every day life, start asking, “what do I want to feel today? How could I define the meaning of the day so that I feel what I want to?” Next time you go on a date with someone, think about the feelings you want to create. Before you sit down with your child to work on math, ask, “what do I want to feel when I’m helping my kid? What feelings do I want them to have about me, about homework, about their life?” This kind of clarity and intention will change how you experience life.”

10. Know what you want

“Unhappiness is not knowing what we want and killing ourselves to get it.” – Don Herold

11. Ask yourself this question at the start of every day

“What can I get excited or enthusiastic about today?” That simple question has changed the way I walk into each day. Try it.

12. The definition of meaning

“Enthusiasm + Connection + Satisfaction + Coherence = Meaning”

13. Define YOUR meaning of life

“The meaning of life is whatever you ascribe to it.” Joseph Campbell

14. Manage your energy level if you want to achieve great things

“In a stunning finding, CEOs and senior executives have energy equivalent to that of a professional athletes. It turns out that to make it to CEO, you have to care about your energy as much as an NFL quarterback does, because it takes about the same level of energy.”

15. Prime yourself each morning with these three questions

“Every morning in the shower I ask myself three questions to prime my mind for a positive day: 

  1. What can I be excited about today?
  2. What or who might trip me up or cause stress, and how can I respond in a positive way, from my higher self?
  3. Who can I surprise today with a thank-you gift, a gift, or a moment of appreciation?”

16. Use doorways as positive behaviour triggers

“The second trigger I said was what I call a “door frame trigger“. Every time I walk through a doorway, I say to myself, “I will find good in this room. I’m entering this space a happy man ready to serve.” This practice helps me get present, look for the good in others, and prepare my mind to help people. What positive phrase or sentence could you say to yourself every time you walk through a doorway?”

17. Don’t underestimate the power of human touch

“The fourth trigger I set up with a “touch trigger“. Whenever I’m introduced to someone, they get a hug. Not because I’m a natural hugger – I’m not. I started this trigger because I read so much research about how touch is vital to well-being and happiness.”

18. Choose internal calm

“Stress is self-created, so I decided to stop manufacturing it. I always believed that we can choose an internal calm and joy even with the chaos, so I decided to do just that.”

19. Be your best

“What you see in the world is dependent upon your state of mind and physical energy. Thus, things appear the worst when you are feeling your worst. And the best when you’re at the best. We want you at your best.”

20. Exercise

“Exercise also helps boost serotonin production and improves sleep, which in turn  produces more serotonin. (If you didn’t know it, most antidepressants are formulated to target the release and re-uptake of serotonin, which is why so many researchers recommend that depressive patients exercise whether or not they’re taking medication). Exercise also decreases pain (almost equalling the effect of THC/cannabis) and reduces anxiety – both major issues for ageing adults.”

21. Don’t use food to control your emotions

“Beware of using meals as a way to push down negative emotions. If you feel bad, move. Go for a walk and change your emotional state before eating.”

22. Invest time and money in your health

“Visit your primary care doctor and request a complete health diagnostic. Tell them you want to get in the best health of your life during the next twelve months and that you want every reasonable screening she or he has that will help you assess your health. They’ll help you figure out your body mass index, cholesterol, triglycerides, and risk factors by various tests. Don’t just get a routine physical – ask for the most comprehensive health diagnostic they provide. If you’re going to splurge on anything this year, make it your health.”

23. Commit to excellence

“The quality of a person’s life is in direct proportion to their commitment to excellence, regardless of their chosen field of endeavour.” – Vince Lombardi

24. Be inspired by love

“Duty makes us do things well, but love makes us do them beautifully.” – Phillips Brooks

25. Find your tribe

“Find a group of people who challenge and inspire you, spend a lot of time with them, and it will change your life.” – Amy Poehler 

26. Surround yourself with positive people

“To make a difference in your life, you don’t need dozens of new friends. You need one more positive person who brings out the best in you. So find your most positive and successful friend and ask him to bring one or two of his friends to your next night out. Then start hanging out with them a little more often, just half an hour more per week. One more positive person leads you to one more step toward the good life.”

27. Hang out with volunteers

“People with higher levels of education are more likely to volunteer than those with less education. In the United States, almost 40% of those over the age of twenty-five who have a bachelor’s degree or higher volunteer…Often, the people who staff non-profit organisations, especially at the board and committee levels, are the richest people in the community.”

28. Choose your friends wisely

“Imagine how much better your life would be if you got better people into your social network. And no, I don’t mean your Facebook group. I mean real people with real pulses you actually see, call, work with, hang out with, exercise with, have fun adventures with. Choose to surround yourself with people who bring joy and growth into your life and are secure enough in themselves to be real and solid whether you shine or struggle.”

29. Look for joy

“One study found that just watching a comedy clip to bring some joy into your life before doing serious work can increase productivity.”

30. Rest is just as important as work

“There is a virtue in work and there is virtue in rest. Use both and overlook neither.” – Alan Cohen

31. Take regular breaks

“If you want to feel more energised, creative, and effective at work – and still leave work with enough oomph for the “life “part – the ideal breakpoint is to stop your work and give your mind and body a break every forty-five to sixty minutes.”

32. Be clear about what needs to be done in the first place

“Nothing is less productive than to make more efficient what should not be done at all.” – Peter Drucker

33. Focus on producing quality, not quantity

“High-performers have mastered the art of prolific quality output (PQO). They produce more high-quality output than their peers over the long term, and that is how they become more effective, better known, more remembered.”

34. Find the five major moves of whatever you want to achieve

“I interviewed several number one bestselling authors and deconstructed their major activities. I simply asked, “What five major moves made the most difference in moving your writing forward and landing your book on the big best-seller lists?” You can do the same thing. Find the successful people you want to emulate in someway, and discover their five moves.”

35. Everything is trainable

“Remember: that everything is trainable. Those three words change my life forever.”

36. Do the most important things each day

“Only put off until tomorrow what you are willing to die having left undone.” – Pablo Picasso

37. Ask people to do you a favour

“It’s counterintuitive, but if getting people to like you more is the goal, then just ask them to do you a favour.”

38. How would you tell your futur self to live?

“If your future best self – a version of you ten years older, who is even stronger, more capable, and more successful than you imagined yourself to be – showed up on your doorstep today and looked at your current circumstances, what courageous action with that future self advise you to take right away to change your life? How would your future self tell you to live?”

39. Facing and overcoming adversity is an advantage

“You should never view your challenges as a disadvantage. Instead, it’s important for you to understand that your experience facing and overcoming adversity is actually one of your biggest advantages.” – Michelle Obama

40. Embrace the suck

“Training sucks. Patrol sucks. The weather sucks. Circumstances suck. But you can’t just avoid them or be bitter. You have to deal with it, face it, and will yourself to persevere and rise. You have to embrace the suck.”

41. Live boldly

“Indeed, if no one has looked at you sideways lately or, better yet, said, “Who do you think you are? What, are you crazy? Are you sure that’s a good idea?” Then maybe you’re not living boldly enough.”

42. How far can you go?

“Only those who will risk going too far can possibly find out how far one will go.” – T.S. Eliot 

43. Let the universe know what you want

“So if the universe isn’t giving you what you want, perhaps it’s because amid all your distractions and silence, the universe just doesn’t know what you’re asking for.”

44. Find someone who has done what you want to do

“Someone out there has already solved the dilemma, mastered the thing that you believe makes you so different from others. If you can find them, you can find a mentor, a solution, and a path back to reality and humility.”

45. Less is more

“When you’re good, you want to take on more. But beware the impulse. High-performance isn’t about more for the sake of more, just because you can. It’s often about less – zeroing in on just those few things that matter and protecting your time and well-being so you can truly engage with those around you, enjoy your craft, and confidently handle your responsibilities.”

46. Slow down

“Slow down, be more strategic, and say no more often. I know, telling someone with the wind their back to slow down seems disempowering. But do yourself a favour and read that sentence again. Then give yourself a gift and read it again out loud. It’s important that the line really lands for you.”

47. “No” keeps you focused

“That’s why I encourage all high-performance who want to keep rising to say no to almost every opportunity in their mind first, then force themselves to justify it before ever giving a yes. “Yes” got you into the game. Taking on a lot and pursuing a lot of interests and help you figure out your “thing”. But now that you’re succeeding, more yeses can start hurting you. “No” keeps you focused.”

48. What do you value most about your upbringing?

“Sometimes, we are so concerned about giving our children what we never had growing up, we neglect to give them what we did have growing up.” – James Dobson

49. Be interested in other people

“You can make more friends in two months by becoming interested in other people then you can in two years by trying to get other people interested in you.” – Dale Carnegie

50. You don’t have to be an extrovert to be a high performer

“And introvert is just as likely as an extrovert to be a high performer. A recent study over nine hundred CEOs found that just over half of the highest performing were introvert’s. With nearly fifty-fifty odds, it’s not personality that’s giving an edge.”

51. Be a good one

“Whatever you are, be a good one.” – Abraham Lincoln