Five things high performers do that most people don’t

Five things high performers do that most people don’t

High performers are different than most people. Of course, that’s what makes them able to perform at a higher level than everyone else. The interesting thing about high performers, though, is that a lot of the things they do regularly are things they do instinctively—not because they know it’s good for beating the competition, but because it’s what makes them comfortable.

Five examples:

Woman running in sunset
  1. Work out every day

    Everyone knows you should get exercise every day. High performers don’t exercise to lose weight, or to have fun. They exercise to clear their brain and optimize their body for whatever goals they set for themselves. Going to the gym is a tool for reaching whatever non-gym goals are on the horizon. CEOs are much more likely to go to the gym every day than the rest of the population.

    How to get started:

    Scientists have shown that if you pay people to lose weight, they are much more likely to succeed. It’s why Hollywood stars are such successful dieters—their career depends on it. So remind yourself that high earners are people who go to the gym every day, and working out is a big step toward financial success in your career.

  2. Write short

    It takes a lot more energy to write concisely. You need to think more clearly and edit more carefully. But people who write short are able to get their ideas across more effectively. Think about it: the strongest resumes are one page, the most famous Presidential speech is three minutes, and the op-ed is an 800-word format for launching the biggest ideas of our time.

    How to get started:

    Practice on Twitter. It’s a great place to learn to write short because there’s a 140 character limit, but the pressure is on because everything you write is public—so you need to be interesting and concise every time.

    Two employees shaking hands at group meeting
  3. Build diverse networks

    LinkedIn is founded on the premise that it’s not about how many contacts you have, but how close those contacts are to you. If you know the contact well, then you can get a lot of benefits from that connection. LinkedIn’s data shows that you only need 30 connections as long as those connections are from diverse industries. And that’s the hardest part for most people. It’s easy to find 30 connections in industries related to yours and to the industries of your best friends. But high performers are able to assemble a close network of people from a very wide and varied set of industries.

    How to get started:

    Read about topics outside your core interests. This will allow you to talk to a wider range of people and make connections with people who hail from arenas not closely related to your own. If you can talk with people who are not like you, then you can make connections with them as well.

    Organized office desk
  4. Keep a clean work space

    Sam Gosling at the University of Texas found that people judge a co-worker by how messy their desk is. Gosling did not find that people with clean desks ARE more capable, but he found that we universally judge people with clean desks to be capable, and we judge people with messy desks to be unreliable. You can argue about whether this is true or not, but you’d be better off just accepting reality and cleaning up your desk. (And for those of you who are creative, the Harvard Business Review reports that most successful artists have clean, orderly workspaces because they find that creativity thrives within the context of order.)

    How to get started:

    If it really does pain you to keep everything spotless, try taking pictures of each thing on your desk. Upload the photo to you desktop and let you desktop be your mess. People don’t look on your computer screen when they make the snap judgment about whether or not you’re a mess at your desk.

  5. Maintain extreme focus

    When you look at someone who’s at the top of their field, look at their personal life, what they do on the weekends, how many movies they saw last year. You might be surprised to find that high performers are so goal-oriented that they give up pretty much everything else in their life to get to that goal. High earners in business work all the time, Olympic athletes train, eat and sleep—over and over again. Artists do their art no matter what else is going on in their lives.

    How to get started:

    Decide if you even want to be a high performer. Most people want to be well rounded. That is, most people would like to have some sort of balance between their professional goals and their personal life. Which means extreme focus is not in the plan. And that’s okay. You can spend your time measuring how high you can get in the land of high performers, but you can also choose not to. There are a lot of different paths to living a good life, and frankly, most of those paths are not measurable.

  6. Which of these five tips are you already doing? Let us know in the comments below.