How can we learn to perform at our best and achieve peak performance?

To achieve peak performance we are in a state where we are able to perform at the best of our ability.

This could mean we feel confident, capable and knowledgeable.

We may have the confidence and believe that we really can do this.

It’s a wonderful place to be. But it doesn’t come easy. It takes work. It’s understanding the balance and not getting close to our tipping point where it all becomes too much. Please do read on if you want to find out more about how we can learn to perform at our best.

A performance can mean anything we do in our lives that involves some kind of action or commitment from us.

It could be how we generally are in our job

An interview, 

A competition, 

A sporting event, 

Any role within our business. 

Performance for me is another way to describe all those things that I am doing throughout the day.

Peak performance

We can use the Yerkes-Dobson Law of the bell shaped curve to help us understand this principle of peak performance more.

Peak performance is somewhere where we all want to be. We want a strong performance, we want to do things well. This means we are doing things to the best of our ability. We are engaged, focused, motivated and raring to go.

If you look at the curve above let’s dive a bit deeper into the concepts.

So we all will have a different level of arousal. At the bottom end of the scale is low arousal, being bored, flat, numb or detached. For example you might know your job inside and out, nothing about it is challenging, you can do it with your eyes closed and it is all just too easy. But your performance here might be low as there is nothing challenging about being here. You are just happily plodding along. 

But watch what happens as the going gets a bit tougher. The arousal level increases. You are being pushed a bit more, asked to do something more challenging, see a change in some way. You might start to feel engaged, alert and even challenged with what you are trying to do. Your arousal levels are increasing, you are getting more involved and this is all good. You might find yourself feeling enthused. 

So now we are moving towards your peak performance, that sweet spot. It’s like the goldilocks effect when something is just right for you.  Not too big or too small, not too hot or too cold, not too hard or too soft, not too simple nor too complex. We are trying to get to that point where ‘it is just right’. 

We want you to feel challenged, but not too challenged! There is something that is really motivating you to do more, you feel enthused and passionate about what you are doing. You have got some focus and you are feeling engaged and motivated. You will probably find you are learning about new things and feel that you are growing and learning. This can feel good. This is peak performance

Maslow (1964) described Peak Performance as being when a person feels in unity, inner strength and wholeness of being. He used it to describe people who have had specific experiences which he describes as “rare, exciting, oceanic, deeply moving, exhilarating, elevating experiences” Sounds good doesn’t it?

But, there is a tipping point. A point when it becomes too much. Again this is different for everyone. When people are working so hard that their arousal levels simply become too much. So you might start to notice feeling exhausted and fatigued. You stop enjoying things as much. Maybe you do not feel like you are in the flow as much. You feel overwhelmed, drained or exhausted. If you ever notice yourself feeling overwhelmed then download my free PDF 4 ways to unhook from overwhelming emotions here.

What tends to happen now is your performance decreases. You begin to not do as well. It might take you longer to do things and it might feel like heavy and hard work for you.

But there is a tipping point

Working harder does not help.

Many people at this point think that working harder is the solution and getting everything on their to do list will help. Actually this just adds to the exhaustion and overwhelm and we become stuck in a vicious circle. In the worst case scenario this can lead to burnout.

For many of us we have been at that point of burnout when it all just became too much. I am much more aware of that now and work frequently on myself to keep myself within the zone of peak performance. But it doesn’t come easily, it is a work in progress. I need to figure out what my sweet spot is and how I can keep my levels of arousal just right. We all slip towards feeling more fatigued or detached and numb and I would argue that it’s ok for us to spend a little bit of time here as long as it’s not too much time. 

If you want to do well at those performances in your life then coaching with EMDR might help click here to book a free 15 minutes consultation with me.

Thanks for reading my blog.

I am Dr Hannah Bryan and I am a Chartered Clinical Psychologist and an EMDR Facilitator and Consultant.

I am really passionate about using EMDR to help people get past their past and live their best lives in the here and now.