4 Ways Successful People Move Toward Peak Performance

May 18th, 2014 by LaRae Quy

The ranch I grew up on in the middle of Wyoming was isolated so it was impossible for my brother and I to attend public schools. Instead, we had a private tutor. The only person I had to compete against in my class was myself, so it was a continual game of personal best. 

Success - yeah

I worked hard to beat my own record, and my teacher would respond by saying, “Look at you—you’ve worked hard to get a better score.”

As I’ve gotten older, I realize that my teacher’s response was incredibly unusual. Instead, most teachers, parents, and others in the educational system respond with, “Look at you—you are so smart.”

Without realizing it, my teacher had a growth mindset which believes that people get better by challenging themselves.

The opposite represents a fixed mindset and is represented by how our educational system distributes grades and how most corporations conduct performance appraisals: talent is something that happens to you, not something you make happen.

Whether you have a fixed mindset or a growth mindset influences how you approach peak performance.

Peak performance is successfully using mental toughness to develop the power of the mind and to practice mental skills training in every aspect of life.

Successful people believe that they can challenge themselves to continually grow and improve performance. 

Let’s take a look at how they do this:


We intentionally focus our attention on what is important in our life and those areas we want to grow.

Our consciousness can handle only so much information, so we have selective attention. One key part of the brain which focuses our attention is the Reticular Activating System (RAS). It filters out important information that needs more attention from the unimportant that can be ignored. Without the RAS filter, we would be over-stimulated and distracted by noises from our environment around us.

Focusing on the goal + focusing our attention on the activity to achieve the goal at the same time overstimulates the brain.

Attaining a goal is something that happens in the future, and it pulls our attention away from where it needs to be in order to focus in the present moment. This explains why so many golfers miss a putt at the end of the final round or why football players drop the ball inches from the finish line.

They choke because their attention switched from the present and moved into the future. As a result, they lose their focus.

Whatever we choose to focus our attention on will make it past the mind’s filtering system. 


Successful people establish their goals. They visualize themselves achieving those goals. And then they break those goals down into tiny, clear chunks. 

Successful people understand that clarity gives us certainty.

You and I can also break down our goals into tiny, bite-size tasks and move from there. Small, clear goals keep our attention focused and yet are not enough to stress us out.


In order for feedback to be most effective, it needs to be immediate. The smaller the gap between output and feedback, the more we will know how to perform better. The reason is that our attention does not need to wander because the information is at hand.

If real-time feedback is not possible, find a way to measure your progress. It’s important that your feedback loop is timely. 

For yourself, and others, tighten the feedback loop as much as possible—try to make it a daily habit.


You need to stretch yourself to perform to your greatest potential. Exactly how much you need to stretch each time is debatable, but experts generally agree that the challenge should be 4% greater than either your skill or your last effort.

Increased stress will lead to increased performance—up to a certain degree. When you move beyond the healthy levels of stress, both performance and health will decline. 

In high doses, stress can kill us. Ironically, it is also fundamental to psychological and physical growth. 4% growth is seen by researchers as the magical tension between challenge and skill. Most of move past 4% increase in performance without noticing, and it’s beneficial because this tension keeps us locked in the present and gives us enough confidence that we can do it again. 

Our success begins and ends with our mental toughness. We can move toward peak performance once we find ways to use our mind to do it.

How have you pushed toward peak performance? What tips can you add?

© 2014 LaRaeQuy. All rights reserved.

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Author of “Mental Toughness for Women Leaders: 52 Tips To Recognize and Utilize Your Greatest Strengths” and “Secrets of a Strong Mind.”

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11 Responses to “4 Ways Successful People Move Toward Peak Performance”

  1. Such an informative blog. The information is all about peak performance and how to move smoothly towards peak performance. I really liked the info very much and I hope many professionals would be beneficial after reading this. Well, in this regard, I would like to say that this peak performance in the enterprise is the up the minute ethical code. In fact, most of the corporations in the today’s world are dedicated to empower the strengths and working abilities of the employees by giving them a new working module in order to take them as well their organization to the new heights. These new environs need updated tools to conquer the challenges. But the fact is, most of the victorious people don’t know how to move towards peak performance. Well, in that case, either they should follow above steps or they should take the help of an affluent mentor, by which they can reach at the top with being panicked.

  2. Nearly everyone you ask today will not quite have achieved the level of success that they had once hoped to. People seem to have lost sight of what they once considered success to be altogether. Setting your own parameters for success is an incredibly empowering tool. ‘Edit your life. It’s your master piece after all.’

  3. Karin Hurt says:

    Excellent post. I so love the concept of your personal best. When I coached a swim team while in high-school and college we gave out personal best ribbons every time a swimmer beat their own personal best. That was a lot of work (for the volunteer parents) but it made a really big deal to the kids. Sure we still gave out the traditional 1st, 2nd, and 3rd, but those personal best ribbons really gave everyone something to strive for. “Mom, I got a ribbon!” (and not just for participating).

    As adults we can be so hard on ourselves, that it’s hard to stop and celebrate the progress we are making along the way.

  4. What grabs your attention rules your life… So true! (…Said as I think about all of the squirrels that scamper for mine!)

  5. Alli Polin says:

    Excellent insights, LaRae. Loved learning about the 4% too. The stretch is important but when we try to leap too far all at once that’s when growth gets traded for discouragement.

    I watch my two children and one is incredibly resilient with strong mental toughness and the other is more likely to give up. As a parent and as a leader we need to really be aware of our words when we are the ones that set the bar for performance. Letting people set their own bar and encouraging the stretch is a far better way to lead.

    We can build our mental toughness over time but sometimes it’s hard to make it happen it alone. It’s an investment in success to invest in a coach to help move you toward peak performance when you want to give up.



    • LaRae Quy says:

      Great points, Alli.

      I had no idea of how important words are when creating a growth mindset until I was out of school…we tell a women she is pretty but this creates a fixed mindset: a woman is either born pretty or not. Instead, if we tell a woman that we appreciate the way she’s done her hair, or her clothes, it produces a growth mindset: she has done something to create her attractiveness…and therefore implies that she is able to create other things in her life…simple use of words but, especially in children, produces an “I can do” attitude.

  6. Wonderful post, LaRae and I love the image! I also never realized you were home-schooled by a tutor. What an interesting way to learn and prepare for the amazing career you chose. The tutor’s mantra: “Look at you-you’ve worked hard to get a better score” was brilliant! I wish more educators could own that line.

    I think all your points about moving toward peak performance are important and I would just add- find yourself a champion. For me, people I have met along the way who were willing to mentor me and provide me with honest feedback were in valuable. Of course, we need to keep an open-mind and be willing to accept the feedback.

    Thanks for another great post!

    • LaRae Quy says:

      You are so corrrect, Terri…finding a champion or mentor is so important. We need people in our lives who will provide honest feedback and encourage us to keep moving ahead…4% growth in performance is not onerous but if we consistently reach out to grow in our efforts a little each time, we will attain peak performance!

      Thanks for stopping by!

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