The 2 Questions That Determine High Performance
(Long-Term Commitment) + (Deep, Consistent Practice) = High Performance
If you take one thing away from this, make sure it’s the formula above. High performers aren’t made of pixie dust. They do not only exist in fairy tales. And they most certainly do not resemble glowing white stallions with golden, spiraling horns protruding through their foreheads.
No. High performers are human beings. But, there are two questions that these shining stars answer that allow them to increase the ceiling of their potential. We can look at these questions as tiny switches that high performers flick to the ‘on’ position long before the journey towards their goals even begin.
1 ) How long do you think you’ll play your next instrument?
Instrument? Please, bare with me for a moment. In 1997, Gary McPherson set out to solve a mysterious puzzle: Why do certain students excel quickly at music lessons while others do not? I’ll spare you the details. McPherson polled a group students before they started their craft and found that children who said they’d play the instrument for the ‘long-term’ were vastly more successful at the end of the study than those who thought they’d play for the short-term.
Net-net: The ideas and attitudes that we bring to the starting line are critical to our success.
2 ) How much (and how) are you willing to practice?
McPherson also measured the length of time the students practiced their instruments each week. Those who parlayed their ‘long-term’ decision with a high volume of practice per week outperformed the short-term committed group by over 400%!
Practice (AKA “the work”, a talentless asset that can be measured by time and effort) created an enormous difference in performance. But these were not marathon sessions of just “going through the motions”. The top students consistently performed deeply concentrated practice sessions while visualizing themselves succeeding at their end goal.
It is not easy to commit to and execute on a long-term goal. We can relate this to the majority of the population’s view of “dieting”: Most participate in month-long, flashy programs promising positive, persistent results with minimal effort. It isn’t too long before a harsh realization occurs — a healthy diet is a lifestyle change. It is a long-term game. It is a sustainable plan that yields fruitful results; but, the ROI is only seen by those willing to put in consistent effort and practice.
So, the next time you commit to something meaningful, ask yourself if you’re in it long-term. Ask yourself if you’re willing to put in the level of work required to be a high performer.
What is your next instrument? It could be a coveted management position, a stronger relationship with a significant other, or maybe it is that journey towards a healthier lifestyle. No matter what it is, remember the power of self-perception before you start. Be in it for the long-haul. Visualize your future-self accomplishing the goal. And remember that no one has ever been successful without putting in “the work”.
Decide. Commit. Work. Succeed.
Feel free to share your last goal with us in the comment section. Were you all-in committed from the start? Was your practice consistent? What were the results?