A Preview of Peak Performance. Out Now!
Mastering the art and science of performance requires breaking down walls that separate traditionally disparate domains. It is through these often overlooked connections that powerful performance insights and untapped possibilities emerge. Peak Performance uncovers what artists can learn from athletes, what intellectuals can learn from artists, and what athletes can learn from intellectuals.
Peak Performance shows you how strengthening your ability to solve complex cognitive problems is similar to strengthening your ability to lift weights – that the world’s best thinkers and the world’s best power lifters follow the same process to elicit growth. It investigates the influence of routine and environment, and explains how and why the pre-game warmups of all-star athletes, artists, and public speakers are so alike and so effective. It even discusses fashion, and through science, explains why the geniuses of yesterday, like Albert Einstein, and the geniuses of today, like Mark Zuckerberg, don’t care much about it. Peak Performance explores why after they achieve breakthroughs – be it painting a masterpiece, penning an award-winning novel, or setting a world record in sport – so many great performers often thank and attribute their success to forces beyond themselves: be it their family, their religion, or some other transcendent power.
By merging cutting-edge science with captivating real-life stories, Peak Performance reveals the key practices that drive great performance and teaches you how you can apply them in your own life. These practices include:
Alternating between periods of intense work and rest. The process of progress in any endeavor is optimized when a stressor challenges the body or mind and is then followed by adequate recovery. This pattern of effort yields physical, cognitive, and emotional breakthroughs. The hard part is striking the right balance. But when we hit the sweet spot, this ebb-and-flow is far superior to more common approaches to work in which we get stuck either in an "in-between" zone of moderate intensity (leading to under-performance) or working non-stop at the utmost intensity (leading to fatigue and burnout).
Developing and harnessing purpose. Science now confirms what has been discussed anecdotally for decades: Having a higher calling promotes personal breakthroughs. New research shows that when we focus on something beyond ourselves, activity lessens in the part of the brain associated with the ego. When the ego is minimized, so, too, are constraining emotions like fear and worry. No longer in a guarded state trying to protect our literal "self" from failure, we are more likely to take constructive risks and venture beyond our perceived limits. In a paradoxical twist, thinking less about ourselves is one of the best ways to improve ourselves.
Priming the body and mind for enhanced productivity. It's no coincidence that the best athletes perform the same rituals before every competition, or that the best thinkers and artists often work in the same settings, with the same beverage, and at the same time of day. A growing body of research suggests that, far beyond simple superstitions, these routines have a profound impact on the internal workings of the body and brain, "priming" us for our personal best.
Taken together, Peak Performance is an entertaining and actionable guide to optimizing your own performance. Above all, this book shows you how to get the most out of yourself. In explaining the science of great performance and sharing the stories of great performers across a wide range of capabilities, Peak Performance uncovers the secrets of success and coaches you on how to use them. If you want to take your game to the next level, whatever "your game" may be, this book will teach you how.