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How Extraordinary People Become That Way

Synopsis

High Performance Habits is a science-backed plan to living a better quality of life. After extensive original research and a decade as the world’s highest-paid performance coach, Brendon Burchard reveals the most effective habits for reaching long-term success. Six habits cropped up over and over again. High Performance Habits covers these six habits that move the needle the most in helping you succeed.

About Brendon Burchard

Brendon Burchard is a 3-time New York Times bestselling author and high performance coach. He is also one of the world’s most-watched, followed, and quoted personal development trainers with over 10 million followers across his brands. Oprah’s Magazine named him “one of the most influential leaders in personal growth.” Similarly, Forbes named him “the world’s leading high performance coach.”

Chapter 1 – Habits and Self-Esteem

Habits

High performers are the individuals who seem to exceed all expectations in every field. To better understand these high performers, Burchard conducted research to identify the factors underpinning long-term success. Firstly, he found demographics seem to have little impact. Sexual identity, skin color, and age have little effect on performance. Instead, irrespective of demographic, essential habits underpin success. Action matters more than identity. Crucially, these high performers choose their habits wisely.

Self-Esteem

Another highly important factor underpinning higher performers’ success is self-esteem. Self-esteem helps high performers overcome challenges. Again, this confidence is not innate. Instead, they build confidence and self-esteem through persistent practice. Persistent practice will encourage wisdom and talent. Self-esteem is a building block required for learning and growth.

Chapter 2 – High Performers Have Clear Goals

Goal setting is critical for success. However, the author warns against merely setting goals around milestones like a birthday or New Year’s Eve. High performers are those who pose important life questions throughout the year. This habit is called ‘seeking clarity’ and underpins goal-orientedness. The importance of clear goals is that they provide a powerful aim and clear concentration.

Burchard describes four areas of clarity:

  1. Self-awareness – High performers are focused on becoming the best version of themselves.
  2. Social environment – High performers are deliberate with their social interactions to make all experiences as positive as possible.
  3. Honing skills – High performers understand which skills they need to hone and concentrate on their required areas of interest. After identifying these areas, they allocate spare time to training themselves.
  4. Providing a service – High performers create a service that helps you become successful and gives back to people. They understand that creating a service like this will help maintain their motivation while also increasing their chances of success.

To better understand if you have established clarity, Burchard recommends you ask yourself the following questions:

  • Who am I?
  • What are my strengths and weaknesses?
  • What do I value the most in life?
  • What are my future aspirations
  • What goals am I pursuing to fulfill these aspirations?
  • If I could describe my ideal self in the future, the person I am trying to become, how would I describe that self?

Plus, choose three inspirational words that best describe your future self. Once you have established these mantras, you should set aside a daily period to reflect on whether you are living according to these values.

Chapter 3 – High Performers Maintain Their Health

Physical Energy

Physical fitness is often neglected when considering why somebody has become successful. However, Burchard highlights that studies suggest CEOs are both mentally and physically healthy. Subsequently, their energy levels mimic professional athletes.

Hence, the second habit of High Performance Habits, after developing clear goals, is generating energy. Burchard explains that this habit is supported by neuroscience. Research has found that learning and memory neurons are created in the brain while doing exercise. Plus, exercise reduces anxiety. Reduced anxiety improves wellbeing but is also associated with more effective leadership. The fundamental difference between high and low performers is their attitude towards exercise. High performers appreciate regular exercise as a habit that underpins their success. Comparatively, underperformers have a habit of finding reasons not to do physical exercise.

Mental Energy

You can encourage the development of mental energy by adopting a positive vision of life. This positive vision allows high performers to be more lively and optimistic. Additionally, the mental energy of high performers prevents a cycle of negative thinking from emerging. Alternatively, visualizing positive events produces a feel-good hormone, dopamine. Subsequently, high performers obtain the positive effects of success before they even experience the events. This actually improves the likelihood of high performers experiencing these positive events in real life.

Transitions and Intentions

“The simple act of deliberately pausing between activities and setting intentions will help you gain more presence in your life.”

– Brendon Burchard

Every day is simply a series of transitions from one period to the next. For example, waking up is a transition from sleep to activation. The key to generating energy is compiling a list of the common transitions you experience daily. Subsequently, you should set an intention to focus on while moving from one major activity to the next. This intention should be based on the answers to the following questions:

  • What energy do I want to bring into this next activity?
  • How can I do this next activity with more excellence?
  • How can I enjoy the process?

Chapter 4 – High Performers Utilize Inner and Outer Anticipations

“When you feel necessity, you don’t sit around wishing or hoping. You get things done.”

– Brendon Burchard

Increasing the degree of potential loss generally enhances performance. Therefore, Burchard suggests the third habit of high performers is raising necessity. High performers have internal motives that they consolidate with external commitments. This consolidation offers another form of motivation that improves their chances of success. Comparatively, underperformers focus solely on their desire to win rather than winning being a necessity.

One way to start utilizing outer anticipations is to adopt high standards for yourself. Effectively honing your skills will depend on avoiding objectives that are simple to attain. After setting appropriate objectives, Burchard recommends connecting your individual objective with an outside commitment, like helping another person. Another way to raise the stakes of your internal motivations is to tell more people about your objectives. Doing so increases your accountability, which will naturally encourage motivation. External anticipations are formed, and sharing your objective with others can boost its significance. Humans have a natural aversion to failure in front of others, which further increases the utility of increasing accountability.

Burchard offers an example from his own life to explain the effectiveness of accountability. He had decided to build a personal improvement course. As a way of motivating himself, he asked his friends and family to be the first to experience the course. Placing those close to Burchard at the center of one of his goals forced him to finish the course to a high standard.

Chapter 5 – High Performers Stay Focused

Essential and Trivial Work

Feeling overwhelmed by a bombardment of tasks and work is an example of asymmetry between the energy you expend and your outcomes. To overcome this, the author suggests you adopt the fourth habit of high performers by increasing your productivity. One way to increase your productivity is to master the distinction between essential and trivial work. If you can master this distinction, you can place all your energy into the assignments that will help catapult you towards success.

Compared to high performers, underperformers tend to pay too much attention to trivial work. Although this work may make them feel productive, the long-term impact of these tasks is minimal. The author highlights that arguably the worst trivial task is emailing. He cites a study that suggests people spend 30% of their working work writing emails. Emails are dangerous because they are relatively easy work yet convince you that you are highly productive. The reality is this time spent writing emails is often preventing you from engaging with essential activities.

Prolific Quality Outputs

The most crucial essential tasks are those that produce Prolific Quality Outputs (PQO). Your PQO is a change, activity, or approach that should bring you the most success. After identifying your PQO, you must produce and learn the priorities required for the creation, quality, and frequency of that output. One way to do this is to chart out the five major moves required to make your PQO a reality.

Timing

High Performers’ productivity also relies on timing. Underperformers are those who decide on loose deadlines that can be easily changed. If you avoid rigid end dates, then you are reducing your motivation to complete this task. On the other hand, high performers set rigid due dates that are challenging to meet. Additionally, they allocate timed objectives to these due dates. Utilizing timing should prevent you from losing concentration and allow you to maintain high energy levels. 

The most common timing area where underperformers fail is during large projects. These projects require constant concentration and maintenance of speed. Burchard suggests you split your long-term objectives into sub-objectives of four or five small actions with these more extensive projects. 

Chapter 6 – High Performers Are Grateful

The Giving Mentality

There is an assumption that highly successful people are often very lonely, as they lack people to talk with about their accomplishments. Very few people will have similar experiences of success as them. However, this is not the reality. Instead, high performers are those who can consistently develop enduring bonds irrespective of their success levels. These bonds are built upon appreciativeness and gratefulness. The author explains that a 2016 survey by the American Psychological Association found that only half of Americans feel appreciated by their superiors. Hence, Burchard believes that half of leaders are underperforming. 

High performing leaders can recognize and appreciate good work in all employees. Plus, studies have found that high performing leaders also have a giving mindset. Hence, the fifth high performing habit is to adopt a giving mindset. Hone your ability to understand the struggles and ambitions of others. Then, once you understand these features, you must act and give the workers what they need. One of the most common features that workers want is the liberty to make their own decisions. Therefore, ensure you respect and trust your employees. This habit relies on your ability to hire staff you trust and allocate the right performers to the right tasks.

Ask, and You Will Get

High performers will ask others for help when they need something. Contrastingly, underperformers will worry about being judged by others. Worrying about others’ judgment will prevent you from growing as an individual and learning from others’ skillset. Crucially, most workers will be glad you have appreciated their skills. Avoiding these conversations with your workers will only waste your time and prevent you from taking a step forward.

Chapter 7 – High Performers Are Adventurous

“Courage is more like a skill since anyone can learn it. And once you understand and demonstrate it more consistently, everything changes.”

– Brendon Burchard

High performers gladly accept risks rather than shying away from them. The final habit suggested within High Performance Habits is to adopt boldness. Boldness is deeply intertwined with adopting a positive outlook during difficult circumstances. High performers are aware that risks are associated with a greater chance of failure but take steps to overcome these fears and prepare. Preparation can mitigate some of the risk associated with adventurous actions. Plus, it can allow you to become excited by risk.

Taking risks will become more straightforward with experience. Therefore, view every potential failure associated with risk as an opportunity for self-improvement. If you can do this, you will stop complaining about challenges and adopt a positive attitude. Another risk that high performers are willing to take is being vocal about their visions. Underperformers will quietly get on with their goals in case they risk being told by others they are delusional. Alternatively, high performers take this risk for the potential benefit of meeting some outstanding individuals who can help them attain their goals.

Concluding Quote

“Just as athletes never quit training, high performers never stop consciously conditioning and strengthening their habits. Real success—holistic, long-term success—doesn’t come from doing what’s natural, certain, convenient, or automatic. Often, the journey to greatness begins the moment our preferences for comfort and certainty are overruled by a greater purpose that requires challenge and contribution. The skills and strengths you have now are probably insufficient to get you to the next level of success, so it’s absurd to think you won’t have to work on your weaknesses, develop new strengths, try new habits, stretch beyond what you think your limits or gifts are. That’s why I’m not here to sell you the easy solution of just focusing on what is already easy for you. Just so we’re clear: There’s a lot of work ahead.”

– Brendon Burchard

Comment below and let others know what you have learned or if you have any other thoughts.

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