How often have you stood and admired the performance of our elite athletes, and thought about the discipline and concentration it must take to reach that level of success? Now let me ask you this. How often have you admired the performance of our top leaders and considered what it took to get there?

In most cases, it's the athletes who dominated our thoughts, yet sustained peak performance doesn't happen by accident in any industry.

To be capable of peak performance as a leader, you've really got to get your head in the game because it can be either your greatest ally or your worst enemy. Your mind is powerful – probably far more powerful than you realise. The more you practice and exercise your mind, the more capable you are of sustaining your peak performance. Let's get your mind warmed up.

Stop focusing on the negative When you're pushing yourself to greatness, one small negative consumes your focus, like a pimple on your first date. It is so easy to think that this one bad event will create a chain reaction, however that kind of thinking can ruin all of the hard work that got you this far in the first place. Great leaders have taught themselves to look at the circumstances behind the negative event, and take lessons from them. This simple shift of focus changes their reactions from panic and self-blame, to one which is more positive and helps move them forward. So, make a mistake, forgive yourself and call it a learning experience.

Visualise success

Rehearse key skills, practice responses to changing circumstances, and achieve emotional readiness. Think of potential obstacles, and visualise how you will overcome them. It's the same process the athletes use to prepare for their events. You practice over and over, building action pathways in your brain, until you can perform without thinking. So rehearse, and picture success. See it, hear it, feel it. Imagine yourself giving an inspiring presentation, solving a problem, negotiating a difficult agreement, gaining recognition, or accomplishing your goal. Make mental rehearsal a daily habit.

Look after your mind – sleep

Just as athletes care for their bodies, you need to care for your mind, and in this case, it's sleep which has the huge impact. Lack of sleep affects your ability to think clearly, slows your responses and your thought processes, and elevates your stress levels. In a quickly changing environment, where your team looks to you for leadership, you need to be able to think on your feet and choose the best game plan. If you're sleep deprived, you'll be short on patience and concentration, which is not a good mix. Start building good sleep habits and routines and you'll notice the difference immediately.

Just believe in yourself

Michael Jordan said "You have to expect things of yourself before you can do them." Sometimes you just have to stop analysing and start doing. Expect high performance. Expect success. Trust your instinct because it works harder than you do to keep you on the right track. You know what to do; allow yourself to do it. Believe in yourself enough to make it happen.

If you are going to doubt something, doubt your limits. – Don Ward

You are the one who defines your limits as well as your goals. Don't doubt that you can be an exceptional leader. Yes, it will take some work to keep your mind in the right space to achieve peak performance, but a trained mind is a powerful thing. Not only will it help you become a peak performer, it will make it easier to sustain your performance at that level.

Linda Murray is Business Coach, Executive Coach & Mentor for high performing professional women. M: 0405 322 005 www.athenacoaching.com.au

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