I have been studying high performance for almost 20 years. I believe my interest in high performance has been shaped by my late introduction to track and field and the desire to be successful even though it seemed unlikely. My athletic matriculation was anything but normal. I was discovered working at McDonald’s when I was 17 years old, by a coach who happened to see my long legs and wondered if I wanted to learn the sport of high jump. The high jump is an extremely technical event, requiring immense horizontal speed converted into an explosive, powerful vertical jump. I had neither immense speed nor explosive power when I began, but would soon develop these attributes along with many others.
As a youth I was never identified as being “talented.” I was the kid benched, and put into the game in the last 2 minutes, when the outcome had been already determined. And even as I began to develop as an athlete, there were many who had low expectations of my abilities. Had I let their perceptions be my goal, I would never have become an Olympian and achieved the success I have had, both on and off the track.
Through my own quest for excellence, I began studying factors associated with high performances as it relates to sport science. In the laboratory we would push individuals to their maximum threshold in various physical tests, and as I observed the differences between people I began contemplating the concept of mental toughness and motivation. Specifically, why are some people just mentally tougher than others? And can you learn to be mentally tough?
I had come to appreciate that the quest for excellence is a shared phenomenon, among all whether in sports, business, or life. My curiosity led me to pursue a PhD in Sport Psychology, with integrated studies in organizational psychology. Specifically, in addition to my sports science knowledge, I have studied the psychosocial aspects of the super elite performers to those who are simply good. Through my comprehensive research, observation, and personal experiences it is my belief that high performance does not occur in separate silos. It is complex, multifaceted and involves an optimal zone of mental, emotional and physical factors.
Talent and technical training may provide good performances, but they will not bridge the gap to high performances. Building off of my knowledge, experience and skills, in 2004 I founded Optimal Zone Inc., a high performance consulting firm that caters to athletes, individuals and businesses seeking to improve their performances. We provide a new and unique comprehensive approach to high performance. I am committed to helping others set the bar high, and realize their potential!
My question for you is, “Have you jumped the highest you can in your endeavors? And if not, what’s stopping you from doing so?