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How To Be A High Performer?

Don’t ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive, and go do it. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.” —Howard Thurman

In the history of science, scientists have often been wrong. They used to think that the world was flat, they were wrong. They used to think that the sun revolved around the earth, they were wrong. These are only two of the many assumptions that are continually proven wrong with time. So, when anybody makes a claim, often start from a point of view that you don’t know because there’s always an element that it could be right or wrong. Always be open, until you see data that proves that. This is mostly the place from which top performers operate from.

In a practical sense, high performance is about achieving consistent success through sustained actions and behaviours, which go above and beyond the norm. Top performers are always willing to give discretionary effort, go an extra mile or beyond the call of duty because they feel personally obligated to do so. They’re driven by personal pride, not a feeling of external obligation. This means they personally choose to be high performers. The two main key things to be a high performer are choice and pride. A high performer is someone who’s disgusted by mediocrity and their pride won’t let them swim in this sea of mediocrity and then they choose not to be associated with mediocrity. This becomes their operating standard.

To create this high performance culture, I teach individuals and organizations to base it on the following to build a strong foundation:

  1. Clear expectations.

This is having clear expectations of the results expected of you by either yourself or whomever has assigned you with the task. This is very important to understand.

  1. Competence

You need to develop your level of competence. As I always emphasize, your competence determines your confidence. The surest way to boost your confidence is by increasing your competence, period. You may believe in yourself all you want, affirm that you are ‘great and wonderful’; that ‘you deserve the best that life has to offer’ and that ‘you are wonderfully created to create’,  but until you are competent in your action, you’ll just be disappointed and frustrated. You’ve got to be willing to practice and I teach how to do that.

  1. Commitment

Commitment is keeping your word. It is resolve. It’s doing what you said you’ll do, when you said you’ll do it, whether you like it or not. This is one of the hallmarks of high performers. This is not just a blind commitment, it is accompanied by flexibility to pivot in case external conditions change. In an organization, this commitment is shown by leadership in terms of support and keeping their words in terms of inclusivity and bottom up leadership.

  1. Climate

High performers always create an environment that is supportive for them to succeed. They tap into collective genius, they surround themselves with resourceful people. They understand that they can’t do it alone, they need others to assist them hence they continually work on managing and improving relationships and ability to handle conflicts. This is very important for sustaining top performance.

In my training interventions I also explain and share Big Four Techniques top performers need. Two of the four techniques are: Mental-Rehearsal and Self-Talk.

Self-Talk for an example helps you focus your thoughts. This is how you talk to yourself. Do you know that an average person speaks to themselves at a rate of 300 to 1000 words a minute? Well, if these words are positive instead of negative, ‘Can Do’ instead of ‘Can’t’, they help override the fear signal coming from the amygdala, the fear station.

The last thing to share about this culture of high performance is your ability to choose a career that you are adapted to by nature. Understanding your personality in choosing a career is important. In the world of work, there are simple jobs and complex jobs. A simple job is one that you can learn and then repeat, you don’t need high levels of cognitive function or thinking for it. A complex job on the other hand, is one where the requirements change on an ongoing basis like managerial and executive jobs and they require high level of general cognitive ability. This ability may be one of the best predictors of high performance and success. If you want to be a manager, your personality trait ‘openness to new experience’ should be high, not a maintainer of status quo or else you’ll suffocate those you manage whose ambitions are to be managers.

So, what makes you come alive? What turns you on? What’s your personality type and what’s the Big Four Techniques you need to be a High Performer? Knowing these will truly set you apart from the pack. The world has long been waiting for your greatness, it’s time to unleash it!

Veli Ndaba is a Professional and Motivational Speaker, Life-Coach and Neuro Linguistic Programming Practitioner, Author of four books (You Are Born to Win, Your Dream is Calling You and SWITCH ON! And Set Your Soul On Fire!), Newspaper Columnist and Entrepreneur. To book him to speak at your next event or to help you and your team unleash your greatness, contact him on, or +27 83 304 9773