High Performance Habits is a book that synthesizes everything that makes people become high performers. Burchard uses this term to account for habits that create a high performer from a person’s professional and personal life.
The six habits that Burchard explains in the book are those that will make you a high performer in all areas of your life— love, business, friendship, parenting, wealth, and health.
Book Title: High Performance Habits: How Extraordinary People Become That Way
Author: Brendon Burchard
Date of Reading: November 2017
Table of Contents
What Is Being Said In Detail:
High Performance Habits came to be from three questions asked by Brendon Burchard:
- How do some individuals sustain their success?
- Why are some happy while others are miserable in their success (and path to success)?
- What motivates them to reach the top and practices help them improve the most?
The answer was six habits divided into two areas:
- Seek Clarity
- Generate Energy
- Raise Necessity
- Increase Productivity
- Develop Influence
- Demonstrate Courage
Chapter 1 is about seeking clarity (Who am I, what do I value?). Seeking clarity means:
- Envisioning the future four (Self, Social, Skills, and Service),
- Determining the feeling you’re after (What do I want to feel today?)
- Defining what’s meaningful (What matters to me?)
Chapter 2 is about generating energy (increasing the amount of energy so you can accomplish life’s tasks). Generating energy means:
- Releasing tension to set the intention
- Bringing the joy
- Optimizing health (exercise, nutrition, sleep)
Chapter 3 is about raising necessity (devoting yourself fully to something). Raising necessity means:
- Knowing and understanding who needs, wants, deserves, and counts on your A-game
- Affirming the Why (why you do what you do?)
- Leveling up your squad
Chapter 4 is about increasing productivity (getting more done in the same/less amount of time). Increasing productivity means:
- Increasing the outputs that matter the most (Pareto distribution)
- Charting out your five major moves that will make that goal a reality
- Getting insanely good about key skills
Chapter 5 is about developing influence (moving people in the right direction with your actions and ideas). Developing influence means:
- Teaching people how to think
- Challenging people to grow
- Being a role model on the way (lead by example)
Chapter 6 is about demonstrating courage (moral, psychological, and everyday courage). Demonstrating courage means:
- Honoring the struggle (it’s a part of growing your character)
- Sharing your truth and ambitions with others, yourself, and the world
- Finding someone to fight for
Most Important Keywords, Sentences, Quotes:
“achiever but a high performer—someone who creates ever increasing levels of both well-being and external success over the long term.”
“It’s not that you’re incapable of performing better. You know that sometimes you crush it on one project at work, but struggle on another, similar one.
You know that you can be a star in one social setting, but not in another. You know how to motivate yourself, but sometimes you hate yourself at the end of the day for having completed nothing but a three-season binge on Netflix.”
“Systems are what separate the pro from the novice, and science from armchair philosophy. Without systems, you cannot test hypothesis, track progress, or repeatedly deliver exceptional results.
In personal and professional development, these systems and procedures are, ultimately, habits. But which ones work?”
“High performance is not strongly correlated with age, education, income, race, nationality, or gender. This means that many of the excuses we use to explain why we can’t succeed are simply wrong.”
“It turns out that there are bad, good, better, and best habits for realizing your full potential in your life and career.”
“We’ve also learned that there are habits for tactically getting ahead, and strategic habits for enjoying life. You’ll learn both.”
“Mere improvement does not always result in high performance.”
“I want you fully aware as you fight big battles, strive for the mountaintops, and lead others. That’s because the habits that really matter in improving performance are not unconscious.
They don’t necessarily become automatic or easier with time, because the world gets more complex as you seek greater success. Thus, you need to be mindful of your footing as you climb higher.”
“Narrowing this book to practical habits was difficult. The first draft was 1,498 pages, and I had to make some hard choices on what to cut. To make the decisions, I followed the advice I shared earlier, which so many high performers have taught me:”
“always remember that the main thing is to keep the main thing the main thing.”
BEYOND NATURAL: The Quest for High Performance
“be influencing current behaviors. Second, you used assessment tools to help determine personality styles, patterns, and preferences. The goal was to help people better understand themselves and any behaviors that might help them succeed.
Popular tools included Myers-Briggs, the Clifton StrengthsFinder, the Kolbe A™ Index, and the DiSC® Test. Often, the life coach would hire experts or consultants certified in these tools, to help administer them.
Third, the coach would sift through performance reviews from work and talk to the people around the client, using 360-degree assessments to figure out how others perceived them and what others wanted from them. You’d talk to the people they lived and worked with.
Fourth, you’d evaluate their actual output. You’d look at their past results to see what stood out, what processes helped them create good work, how they most loved to make an impact.”
“Much of what we’ve learned from these large audiences and data sets sounds like common sense. In becoming successful, hard work, passion, practice, resilience, and people skills are often more important than IQ, raw talent, or where you’re from.”
“Which habits get you quick wins, and which are longer-term practices that make you stand out?”
“Knowing your label or strength and just trying to be “more of that” is like telling a bear that’s trying to get honey out of a nest high on an unexplored cliff, “Just try being more of a bear.”
SECTION ONE: Personal Habits
High-Performance Habit #1: Seek Clarity
“Clarity is not a personality trait that some are blessed to “have” and others are not. Just as a power plant doesn’t “have” energy—it transforms energy—you don’t “have” any specific reality. You generate your reality. In this same line of thinking, you don’t “have” clarity; you generate it.”
“Clarity research tells us that successful people know the answers to certain fundamental questions: Who am I? (What do I value? What are my strengths and weaknesses?) What are my goals? What’s my plan? These questions may seem basic, but you would be surprised how much knowing the answers can affect your life.”
“They have nothing to get excited about tomorrow, so they stop caring about the details today. That is why it’s so vital that leaders continually engage their people in conversations about tomorrow.”
“In your everyday life, start asking, “What do I want to feel today? How could I define the meaning of the day so that I feel what I want to?” Next time you go on a date with someone, think about the feelings you want to create.
Before you sit down with your child to work on math, ask, “What do I want to feel when I’m helping my kid? What feelings do I want them to have about me, about homework, about their life?” This kind of clarity and intention will change how you experience life.”
“Passion + Growth + Contribution = Personal Satisfaction”
”The meaning of life is whatever you ascribe to it.” —Joseph Campbell”
High-Performance Habit #2: Generate Energy
“The good news is, you can dramatically increase your energy and overall performance with just a few simple practices. Your energy is not a fixed mental, physical, or emotional state. Again, you don’t “have” energy any more than a power plant does.
A power plant transforms and transmits energy. In the same regard, you don’t “have” happiness. Rather, you transform your thoughts into feelings that are or are not happy. You don’t have to “have” sadness; you can transform it to something else.”
“This all sounds wonderful, but what if you lack positive emotion? What happens when life isn’t joyous? What if people around you are negative? Well, then, you’d better change that.”
”defuse” difficult emotions or situations. For example, a person dealing with anxiety might be taught to give a name to their anxiety—say, “Downer Dave”—so that rather than being the issue personally, the patient has an external bad guy.”
“because by now it’s common sense: Exercise—work out more. Nutrition—eat healthier food. Sleep—aim for seven to eight hours. Nothing to argue about there, right?”
“Start doing what you already know you should be doing to optimize your health. You already know whether you should start exercising more, eating more plant-based foods, or getting more sleep. If you’re honest, you probably know exactly what to do. Now it’s just a matter of commitment and habit.”
High-Performance Habit #3: Raise Necessity
“1. You have goals that are clear and challenging yet attainable. 2. Strong concentration and focused attention are required. 3. The thing you’re doing is intrinsically rewarding. 4. You lose self-consciousness a bit and feel serene.
5. Time stops—you feel so focused on the present that you lose track of time. 6. You’re getting immediate feedback on your performance. 7. There’s a balance between your skill level and the challenge presented. You know that what you’re doing is doable even if difficult.
8. You have a sense of personal control over the situation and the outcome. 9. You stop thinking about your physical needs. 10. You have the ability to focus completely on the activity at hand.”
“Yes, they are confident in their purpose, but in interviews it is clear that most high performers question whether their approach is the best one available.
It’s often by being open to better processes that they identify new ways of getting ahead. That is, high performers are confident about their why but open about how.”
“1. Add one more awesome friend. To make a difference in your life, you don’t need dozens of new friends. You need one more positive person who brings out the best in you.
So find your most positive and successful friend and ask him to bring one or two of his friends to your next night out. Then start hanging with them a little more often, just a half hour more per week. One more positive person leads you one more step toward the good life.”
SECTION TWO Social Habits
High-Performance Habit #4: Increase Productivity
“One of the worst feelings in the world is to be incredibly busy but feel that you’re not making any progress. You’re fighting the good fight, but your approach is wrecking your health or compromising your well-being.
Projects seem to take forever. Progress comes too slow. Happiness is always a distant horizon never reached. Athena felt that. Most of us have at some point.”
“I’ve found that it is useful to organize life into ten distinct categories: health, family, friends, intimate relationship (partner or marriage), mission/work, finances, adventure, hobby, spirituality, and emotion.
When I’m working with clients, I often make them rate their happiness on a scale of 1 through 10 and also write their goals in each of these ten arenas every Sunday night.
Most of them have never done that before. But doesn’t it stand to reason that only from measuring something in the first place can we determine whether it’s in “balance”?”
“What I learned wasn’t what I expected: Best-selling authors didn’t talk about the romantic idealism of “being a writer.” They talked about the hard work and discipline of cranking out pages even when they didn’t feel like it. No one credited attending writers’ conferences as a determining factor in their success.
They didn’t talk about focus groups or audience demographics. They didn’t talk about conducting years of research before writing their books as a determining factor in their sales (though some had done that).”
“Few mentioned major media coverage or traditional book tours. No one mentioned book clubs. No one mentioned famous people writing a foreword to their book as a determining factor.”
“So I stopped everything else, and I wrote. Then I swiftly followed the next four moves. I chose to publish with a company that basically helped me self-publish it—they didn’t have to “accept me”; rather, I gave them the manuscript and they formatted it for a book.
I designed the cover in PowerPoint. I had already started building an e-mail list and had about ten friends with e-mail lists who agreed to promote some of my videos. Lining them all up took two weeks of begging and prodding. I spent three days shooting videos, and four days uploading them to a blog and creating an e-mail sequence.
In sixty days total, I took The Millionaire Messenger from idea to number one New York Times bestseller, number one USA Today bestseller, number one Barnes and Noble bestseller, and number one Wall Street Journal bestseller.
That includes thirty days of writing the book, then thirty days getting it ready for printing; creating the social media, web pages, bonuses, and videos; and getting people to agree to e-mail links to the videos to everyone on their lists. Five moves. Sixty days. Number one bestseller.”
“Decide what you want. Determine the Five Major Moves that will help you leap toward that goal.
Do deep work on each of the major five moves—at least 60 percent of your workweek going to these efforts—until they are complete. Designate all else as distraction, tasks to delegate, or things to do in blocks of time you’ve allocated in the remaining 40 percent of your time.”
“One principle lies at the heart of this effort: Everything is trainable. No matter what skill you want to learn, with enough training and practice and intention, you can become more proficient at it. If you don’t believe this, your journey to high performance stops here.”
“This, it turns out, is one of the least effective ways to master a skill. Repetition rarely leads to high performance. And that’s why it’s important to understand “progressive mastery.” These are the steps to progressive mastery:”
“1. Determine a skill that you want to master. 2. Set specific stretch goals on your path to developing that skill. 3. Attach high levels of emotion and meaning to your journey and your results. 4. Identify the factors critical to success, and develop your strengths in those areas (and fix your weaknesses with equal fervor).
5. Develop visualizations that clearly imagine what success and failure look like. 6. Schedule challenging practices developed by experts or through careful thought.
7. Measure your progress and get outside feedback. 8. Socialize your learning and efforts by practicing or competing with others. 9. Continue setting higher-level goals so that you keep improving. 10. Teach others what you are learning.”
High-Performance Habit #5: Develop Influence
“One reason people struggle to gain influence in their personal and professional lives is that they simply don’t ask for what they want. This is, in part, because people drastically underestimate the willingness of others to engage and help.
Several replicated studies show that people tend to say yes 6 over three times as often as people thought they would. This means that people are terrible at predicting whether someone will agree to any given request.
Another reason people fail to ask is because they think the other person will judge them harshly. But it turns out that here, too, people are lousy fortune-tellers. Studies show that people overestimate how often or to what degree others will judge them.”
“To gain influence with others, (1) teach them how to think about themselves, others, and the world; (2) challenge them to develop their character, connections, and contributions; and (3) role model the values you wish to see them embody.”
“We are in a precarious time in history, when people are shying away from setting standards with others. “Setting standards” is really just another way to say “issuing positive challenges.” People think that challenging others will lead to conflict.
But that’s rarely true, especially when dealing with high performers—they like it. They’re driven by it. Not only can they handle it, but if you are in a position of influence with them, they also expect it of you.”
“Influencers challenge others in three realms. First, they challenge their character. This means they give people feedback, direction, and high expectations for living up to universal values such as honesty, integrity, responsibility, self-control, patience, hard work, and persistence.”
“The second area where you can challenge others concerns their connections with others—their relationships. You set expectations, ask questions, give examples, or directly ask them to improve how they treat and add value to other people.”
“The third area where you can challenge others is in their contributions. You push them to add more value or to be more generous.”
“Though I initially thought that high performers were doing this on a large scale, telling their entire team to create a bigger future, I was wrong. Instead, high performers challenge individuals specifically. They go desk to desk and challenge each person on their team.
They adjust the level of challenge they issue to each person they are leading. There’s no one size-fits-all approach to pushing people to contribute.
That’s how you know you’re working with a high performing leader: They’ll meet you where you are, speak your language, ask you to help move the entire team toward a better future, in your own unique way.”
“It’s less “I’m trying to be Mother Teresa” and more “I’m going to demonstrate a specific behavior so that others will emulate that exact behavior, which will help us move toward a specific result.”
High-Performance Habit #5: Demonstrate Courage
“If your future best self—a version of you ten years older, who is even stronger, more capable, and more successful than you imagined yourself to be—showed up on your doorstep today and looked at your current circumstances, what courageous action would that future self advise you to take right away to change your life? How would your future self tell you to live?”
“There are only two narratives in the human story: struggle and progress. And you can’t have the latter without the former. All those ups and downs are what make us most human.
There are supposed to be lows, and there are supposed to be highs, so that we may experience the full range of what it is to be human, knowing both joy and despair, loss and triumph.
We know that, but we often forget it when things get tough. It’s easy to hate the struggle, but we mustn’t, because over time hate only magnifies its object into a phantom far greater and more ominous than the actual thing.”
“But I say the only time you should try to measure up to someone else’s idea of who you are or what you’re capable of is when that person is a role model cheering you on. If someone believes in you and sees greatness in you, sure, try to live up to that.”
“You may think, People will be threatened by my drive and desire. They might not like my ambitions. They might make fun of me. So I’d best keep quiet. It’s better to downgrade my ambition or work ethic, anyway. I’ve heard every version and permutation of that misbegotten idea.
But I want to say it again and etch it on your mind: This kind of thinking is not humility, my friend. It’s fear. It’s lying. It’s suppressing. It’s adolescent concern.
And it will destroy any real aliveness and authenticity in your relationships. I know, it may feel better in the short term to minimize yourself so someone else can feel good about themselves, but consider this: No one wants to be in connection with a fake person.”
“I learned that if you open your mouth and shout from the rooftops what you want to do with your life, sure, some village idiots will show up and shout back all the reasons why you can’t. But all the village leaders come over and want to help. Life’s great that way.”
SECTION THREE: Sustaining Success
“This chapter is, in effect, the “antipractices” of high performance. It’s about how people like Don start thinking they are separate from others, better than others, more capable than others, and more important than others—and how those attitudes destroy performance (and careers).
It’s also about the problems that come from the never-be-satisfied, hustle-and-grind approach that sucks passion and leads to overcommitment. This is a chapter about the warning signs—the thoughts, feelings, and behaviors that knock high performers out of the sky.”
“The traps are superiority, dissatisfaction, and neglect. If you’re going to maintain high performance, you need to maintain your high performance habits and avoid these three traps.”
“1. You think you are better than another person or group. 2. You’re so amazingly good at what you do that you don’t feel you need feedback, guidance, diverse viewpoints, or support.
3. You feel that you automatically deserve people’s admiration or compliance because of who you are, what position you hold, or what you’ve accomplished.
4. You feel that people don’t understand you, so all those fights and failures are surely not your fault—it’s that “they” just can’t appreciate your situation or the demands,”
“You are not the first entrepreneur to face financial ruin. You are not the first parent to lose a child. You are not the first manager to be cheated by an employee. You are not the first lover to be cheated on. You are not the first striver to lose your dream.
You are not the first CEO to run a large global company. You are not the first healthy person to find yourself suddenly battling cancer. You are not the first person to deal with depression or addiction in yourself or a loved one.”
“First, I’ve rarely met a high performer who thinks they’re “at the top.” Most feel like they’re just getting started.”
“performance at your level comes down to the habits we’ve discussed—which anyone can begin implementing—augmented by exposure, training, practice, and access to excellence-driven mentors, coaches, or role models.
That’s why I often have to remind the superior minded: You are not better than anyone. You likely just got more exposure to your topic; you had more information or opportunity available to you; you got trained better; you had the opportunity to put in more passion or deliberate practice over more time; you had the opportunity to receive good feedback and guidance. These things are not inherent to who you are.”
“It’s pointing in a statement rather than a positive direction. When you speak to people who are fond of that instruction, and ask them to turn it into a positive takeaway, they say such things as “Stay motivated”; “Notice what’s not working and improve it”; “Care about perfecting the details”; “Set your sights on bigger goals as you grow”; “Keep moving forward.” The truth is, you can do all these things and still be satisfied.
Seeking excellence and experiencing satisfaction are not mutually exclusive”
Book Review (Personal Opinion):
High Performance Habits is a solid book on what we need to do to be successful in both our personal and professional lives. Burchard provides many examples from pop psychology and some from his life, but some parts drag on a bit too long.
This Book Is For (Recommend):
- A young professional looking to build systems for success
- A millennial who wants to learn what it takes to be happy and successful
- Anyone looking for a role model in life to emulate
If You Want To Learn More
Here’s Brendon Burchard on Lewis Howes’s podcast
How I’ve Implemented The Ideas From The Book
So I can’t say that I got anything new from the book, but it did refresh my memory and made me notice if I’m implementing all I’ve learned every day.
One Small Actionable Step You Can Do
Since the book has six core chapters dealing with six core habits, I will write one small thing you can do regarding every single habit:
- Ask yourself what matters to you today, in this month, in this year, and in the next 5 years
- Start sleeping 8 hours a day
- Introduce yourself to someone who you think is a high-performer
- Start working on the 20 percent of things that produce 80 percent of the desired results
- Start by leading the way for someone who needs to change (lead by example)
- Share your ambition with a close friend