Reaching Peak Performance When it Matters Most: Winning in Hard Times

John Lovorn
4 min readJul 20, 2020

Hit full stride, leaving competition behind

Photo by Charlotte Karlsen on Unsplash

When times get tough, the tough get going. That’s a saying that has been around for a long time for good reason since in the hardest times is when we must do our best work if we want to get ahead.

You’ve probably heard before that challenging economic times, like what we are experiencing now in the recession caused by the COVID-19 virus, the divides only grow wider. It happens in wealth, it happens education, and it occurs in the workplace.

For instance, those who are merely cashing a check on the job, thinking they will contribute more when this all ends, might get left behind by those digging in and delivering results by achieving peak performance — when everything comes together for optimal flow and results.

That’s why every entity and every individual needs to take an assessment and develop a strategy for reaching peak performance now, turning a challenging time like this into lasting reward. For more than three decades, I’ve been involved with leaders from the community level to the largest corporations, and those that doubled down to reach peak performance in the hardest times got the most back in return with promotions and job satisfaction.

I’m sharing these characteristics of peak performers that I’ve learned from experience, hoping you will put them to work, changing your trajectory, and your workplace’s path, during this downturn.

Mission and Direction

You’ve heard of the purpose-driven life concept, and that’s a critical element of success on the job. Working for the paycheck alone won’t propel you to peak performance. A sense of mission and direction in your personal life that connects to the workplace is needed to find the most focus.

You must ask yourself this question: Why am I doing this work, and why does it matter?

Set personal goals that align with your mission, including physical, financial, spiritual, and professional.

Perhaps you’ll need to make some changes to get on course. Don’t fear change; make change your ally. Align your life goals, so they fit with your work. For instance, if you require more energy to achieve more sales calls, perhaps addressing your diet and physical fitness is a priority. If you want more money to gain independence in future years, you may want to start dressing for the promotion you plan to get.

The key is embracing change and aligning it with your goals.

High Expectations with Confident Humility

Then, it’s time to get to work with focus. Nothing happens quickly, and few of us have anything given. It’s the hard work done one day after another that delivers the results. Thus, learn to say no when it doesn’t align with your goals and objectives so that you maintain focus. And, start and finish every day with the highest expectations of reaching the smaller goals that lead to the most significant results.

But, it’s essential to approach each day with confident humility — you believe you can do it, but know you don’t have all the answers. Such humility helps others align with you, helping you achieve goals.

Take Calculated Risks

Risk-taking in life and in the workplace sounds dangerous, but the truth is you can’t get ahead without taking some periodic risks. The key is you want to take calculated risks, not shooting-from-the-hip risks. You want to see the target and make sure you’ve got decent aim before pulling the trigger.

But, such risk-taking, when based upon reliable, educated hunches, is a critical element of achieving peak performance. In studies of breakthrough companies, placing the bet has proven a game-changing moment. The same is true for employees who leapfrog ahead — they likely took some risk.


You’ll never win alone, either. It takes more than humility to gain the confidence and help of others. You must also have a strong willingness to collaborate, listen to input and advice from others, and inspire them to focus on mutually beneficial goals.

Let those around you hear, see, and feel your positive attitude. In the hardest times, a positive mental attitude goes a long way. There are too many naysayers in hard times. Make yourself stand out with positivity — setting the tone for achievement

It’s about starting every day with a can-do attitude despite what’s happening around you and leading yourself and others on a focused mission to achieve goals. It’s a winning strategy that can set you and your company apart in times like this.

John Lovorn is Chairman of The Pace Group, an executive search and recruiting firm founded in 1993. Lovorn has led searches in 40 states for communities and companies seeking economic development executives, city managers, and corporate executives.



John Lovorn

John Lovorn is Chairman of The Pace Group, an executive search and recruiting firm founded in 1993. Learn more at