On Peak Performance.

On Peak Performance.

If you’re a college basketball fan, the NCAA Final Four games last night were a blast to watch. Kansas beat Villanova, so everyone in my neck of the woods is happy. 

The Carolina-Duke rivalry was elevated to a new level. Last night was the first time the two teams have met in the Final Four. Country music superstar, Eric Church, is such a die hard Tar Heel fan, he cancelled his sold-out concert in San Antonio to watch the game.

North Carolina edged out Duke in a head-to-head battle. 

From live theater to athletics; stand up comedy or sleight of hand; dance and musical performance – it truly is an honor to watch anyone perform at a high level…

… and creating, managing or growing a business is no different.

I love to watch people bring something to market and beat the competition in delivering more value, creating raving fans, serving their sense of purpose and helping everyone around them to thrive.

I’ve had more direct access to the rapid growth of small business owners with a few locations into dozens (or even 70+ for one of our members) than I deserve and I consider it an honor to step back and observe what makes these exceptional entrepreneurs tick.

In dentistry, medicine, orthodontics, optometry, audiology, business law, accounting, estate planning, manufacturing, home remodeling, and other niches, I see these important character traits in top-performing members:

Just like the basketball games I watched last night, I think you might also derive some pleasure, admiration and a few “pearls” to be gleaned from peeling back the curtain on peak performance.

1. Peak Performers Are Notoriously Overextended…

… this comes with the territory, but they do not allow themselves to be buried in an avalanche of day-to-day business operations. They understand the danger of a million small tasks steering their attention away from core long-term tasks like managing the books, marketing and strategic long-term planning. 

Instead of making ginormous to-do lists, they employ competent people to fulfill day-to-day tasks and operations. This provides margin, which is necessary in order to care for the business and the business owner. 

It is impossible to manage family commitments, relationships and hobbies if you insist on doing everything in the business yourself. So, instead of complaining about the fact that they are overextended, they embrace it and manage it through proper delegation and oversight.

2. Peak Performers Think About Time Spatially.

They always know how much space they have in a day, week, month or quarter and they have become masterful at filling this puzzle with the right tasks. Many entrepreneurs have ADHD or executive implementation challenges, so they tend to float through time.

If you float through time, you become susceptible to doing only whatever task is in front of you. Peak performers have tamed this beast. 

When you bounce from project to project without completing the task, things start to pile up on your plate. Balls get dropped and you get overwhelmed. You’ll magically disappear from what you’re supposed to be doing. Ask me how I know. There is a solution to this in the third point below.

3. Peak Performers Plan on Paper.

Time is an abstract concept. You can’t see or touch it, but it’s the most valuable (and only nonrenewable) asset you have in building a business or accomplishing anything worthwhile in your life. Peak performers come up with a way to keep their time and tasks in front of them.

When you write down your tasks and start to identify the blocks of time where you can complete those tasks, you support your ADHD brain with a place to offload and file everything – and to access it quickly.

4. Peak Performers Avoid Procrastination.

Early in my career, before I was forced to master these skills or sink suddenly in the deep end of high debt and not enough income, it was easy for me to decide that a certain project or task would take too much time and be unpleasant, so I convinced myself it was never a good time to start.

Overhauling or redoing the website; hiring an associate and creating all the systems required in order to manage multiple doctors; stepping away from the clinical chair and becoming the marketer of what I do and not the doer of what I do; building relationships with referring colleagues; writing a book; writing another book; etc. – all of these seemed overwhelming at first. I convinced myself these would take too long and be too painful, so I avoided them.

The big danger here is when we start to think time is stretchy.

It is not. When you see time like the aforementioned puzzle to be filled with the right tasks, you realize how little time you have to get the things done you want to get done and, like a swift kick to the rear end, it propels forward motion.

5. Peak Performers Prioritize Their Health.

I didn’t see any players at the NCAA Final Four last night eating a donut or smoking a cigarette on the sidelines or during a timeout. Peak performers prioritize their health. For many entrepreneurs, this is an afterthought and a huge mistake.

I had this conversation with a private client recently who was prioritizing everything in the business other than his own health and income.

“Listen,” I said, “if you go down, the entire ship goes down.”

Prioritize exercise, sleep, mental health and taking care of yourself. And I don’t mean you give it lip service. I mean you actually prioritize health.

It baffles me how many first-time private clients haven’t taken a real vacation in years. When I sit down and plan my annual calendar, the first thing I do is schedule vacation time. I’ll have at least 8 weeks of vacation this year.

… Oh, and one more thing.

6. Peak Performers Never Ignore the Money.

I don’t care if you’re a saint, you can’t help the needy, feed the hungry and shelter the homeless with hugs and kisses. From the most philanthropic of non-profit organizations to the blood-hungry, profit-at-all-costs, “cash is king” wolves of Wall Street, you can’t get much done if you’re in the hole.

After you take care of your health (always priority #1), number two is anything connected to money. 

Money is one of the most common sources of stress, divorce, failed relationships and it’s almost always the leading culprit in bankruptcies, so don’t let it sneak up on you.

The average person hides from money and allows money problems to pile up. Don’t be like these people. They will not make good choices when it comes to money, especially if making decisions or forced to negotiate from a position of financial weakness.

“Money just isn’t that important to me,” said no rich person ever.

Worked at Burleson Orthodontics. Attended University of Missouri–Kansas City. Lives in Kansas City, Missouri.