How much I want to read more: 7/10
Thrills are running upward my back reading this:
Four minutes and 1 second later, it was all over. In that short time, he had become the then-fastest high school miler in the country, and the fifth fastest junior in the world.
Reaching this level of performance demanded more than just talent and hard work. Ask those who knew him and a single descriptor invariably came to mind: obsessive. It was the only word that fits.
Did you ever get obsessed yourself about something? So that nothing else matters, what you eat or don't eat, how you dress, what people say. There's only one thing that matters: to take every minute the world has to offer to the fullest to focus on that obsession.
I have a feeling that high athletes achievers have something to teach us in our everyday life. Because we simply can't imagine all what they go through in their training. We couldn't help but stop complaining about our life if only we knew, and we couldn't help but be inspired to put some more efforts to make it brighter.
The perverse thing is the more you are obsessed with achieving, the more you are likely to act in a destructive way (toward yourself). The solution is education. Unless we know, we may act in stupid ways. Just because we don't know how to do it otherwise.
In that way, this book is very welcome.
[quote, Ryan Holiday]
“Brad Stulberg is one of my favorite writers about two of my favorite topics: physical and mental performance. This book brings them together.”
[quote, Rich Roll]
“Tackling the mysteries of human optimization with science and insight from some of the world’s greatest athletes, artists, and intellectuals, Peak Performance provides the roadmap you need to transcend your limitations, unleash your inner greatness, and, most importantly, sustain it over time. An absolute must read for anyone interested in unlocking the potential to become your best self!”
[quote, Alex Hutchinson]
“What do great artists, champion athletes, and brilliant researchers have in common? More than you’d expect, as Brad Stulberg and Steve Magness reveal in this magnificent silo-breaking synthesis of the hidden patterns that enable great performance across disciplines.”
[quote, Kara Goucher]
“Peak Performance is a must read for anyone hoping to grow and achieve success in any area of their life. Relatable and readable, it identifies the skills and disciplines successful people have in common and teaches us what we can do to achieve the success that we want. I am excited to put what I have learned to use in my running and beyond.”
[quote, Matt Billingslea]
“Full of inspiration and information, Peak Performance is a must-read for anyone dedicated to self-optimization. I will be reading and re-reading this book for years to come.”
FOREWORD - Is Healthy, Sustainable Peak Performance Possible?
Four minutes and 1 second later, it was all over. In that short time, he had become the sixth fastest high school miler in the history of the United States, the then-fastest high school miler in the country, and the fifth fastest junior in the world.
He thought to himself, “I’m 18 years old and running in the biggest professional meet in the country; breaking 4 minutes will soon be an afterthought.”
“You got to say something about a kid who can stay that disciplined,” they remarked. If only they knew.
Reaching this level of performance demanded more than just talent and hard work. Ask those who knew him and a single descriptor invariably came to mind: obsessive. It was the only word that fit.
His days were a monotonous pursuit of excellence. Wake up at 6 a.m., head out the door for a 9-mile run, go to school, lift weights, and then run another 9 miles at 6 p.m. In order to avoid injury and illness, he adhered to a rigid diet and religiously went to bed hours before his peers. His life was an exercise in willpower and self-control.
He insisted on sticking to his training plan always, even if that meant running 100 miles during a week-long cruise vacation—circling the 160-meter track on the top deck until not fatigue but dizziness stopped him. He ran through tropical storms, summer heat advisories, and family emergencies. No natural or human disaster could prevent him from getting a workout in. One more example of his obsession manifested itself in his love life, or lack thereof.
His obsession surfaced every weekend when he regularly chose his 10 p.m. bedtime over parties and opportunities to meet girls. In other words, he was far from your average high school boy, but then again, average high school boys don’t run 4-minute miles. He had the rage to master: an unending, unrelenting resolve to do everything he could to reach his goals. And it was paying off.
He was one of the fastest documented 18-year-olds on the planet and one of the fastest high school runners in the history of the sport. He received recruiting letters from nearly every university in the country, ranging from athletic powerhouses like Oregon to bastions of academic prowess like Harvard. His dreams were filled with Olympic rings, medals, and thoughts of conquering the world. And they were all realistic.
It wasn’t long before he was counseling the CEOs of multibillion-dollar companies.
In this fast-paced world of high-stakes problem solving, he was a rising star. He was a few months shy of his 24th birthday.
By now you may be wondering: Who are these people, and how can I emulate their success? But that’s not the story we’re here to tell.
The high school running phenom never ran a step faster than he did that summer day at the Prefontaine Classic.
And the young-gun consultant didn’t go on to run for office or make partner at an esteemed firm. As a matter of fact, he left the White House and hasn’t received a promotion since.
Both runner and consultant shined extremely bright, only to see their performance plateau, their health suffer, and their satisfaction wane.
We, the authors of this book, are the runner (Steve) and the consultant (Brad).
INTRODUCTION - Great Expectations
Have you ever felt pressure to perform?
Whether in school, the office, the artist’s studio, or the arena, at some point most of us have experienced a desire to take our game to the next level. And that’s a good thing.
By placing the entire world within a few taps and swipes, digital technology opens up access to talent in a big way. Both the number of people available to do a given job and the places where a given job can be done have increased dramatically.
“This isn’t the workplace of 10 years ago. There’s a lot of pressure. And it’s competitive in the sense that anyone in the world could take your job for less money, so you have to work harder.”
COMPETING AGAINST EACH OTHER
Much like in the traditional economy, in the economy of sports the emergence of a global talent pool has increased the number of people “in the game” with ideal genetics for a specific sport as well as the number of people willing to dedicate themselves to achieving greatness.
GOING TO GREAT LENGTHS
(about drugs) Unfortunately, if the workplace is truly moving in the same direction as sports, that’s very bad news for everyone.
BIGGER, FASTER, STRONGER—BUT AT WHAT COST?
Whenever anyone does something great, be it on campus, at the workplace, or on the playing field, we are forced to question their integrity.
“We live in a world where all exceptional performances are suspect.”
Only a third of American workers say they take a proper lunch break (i.e., leave their desks).
27 percent of Americans regularly work between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m.
Against this backdrop, it’s by no means shocking that 53 percent of American workers report feeling burnt out.
Nonstop, frenetic work won’t just leave us feeling completely depleted; it’s also bad for our health.
One extreme case is that of 21-year-old Moritz Erhardt, an intern at Bank of America Merrill Lynch who, after working 72 hours straight, was found dead in his shower.
Shortly after Erhardt’s tragic death, Goldman Sachs, another preeminent investment house, put a restriction on the number of hours interns could work in a day: 17.
The seemingly imprisoned 9-to-5 worker might envy the flexibility and freedom of an artist or writer, but it turns out flexibility and freedom are not the cure-alls to burnout that we imagine them to be. Nearly every artist has struggled with creative burnout at some point in their career. Burnout is common in artists because their passion serves as both a gift and a curse.
A gift, because, as Plato remarked in the 4th century BCE, passion is “the channel by which we receive the greatest blessings,” fueling original, imaginative, and inspired work. But left unchecked, passion can drive artists to work themselves into the ground.
Obsession, perfectionism, hypersensitivity, the need for control, and high expectations are common traits in great artists, and they are all linked to creative burnout.
By now it should be clear that pressure to perform comes from all directions.
Is this really the new requirement for success in today’s society?
A BETTER WAY
These principles—each time-tested, safe, ethical, and legal—have been used by great performers for centuries.
Eric Weiner, author and innovation expert, breakthroughs occur when “people realize the arbitrary nature of their own [field] and open their minds to, in effect, the possibility of possibility. Once you realize there is another way of doing X, or thinking about Y, then all sorts of new channels open up to you.”