High Performance Habits

I just finished a multi-year read-through of High Performance Habits by Brendon Burchard. It’s an excellent book and focuses on the concept of achieving high performance through the consistent practice of six key habits.

The Six Habits

The first habit is to seek clarity. The heart of the idea is to be clear on where you’re going and why you’re going there. Brendon advises that you gain clarity by asking yourself questions in four key categories:

  1. Self – Who do you want to be?
  2. Social – How do you want to interact with others?
  3. Skills – What skills do you need to develop to win in the future?
  4. Service – How do you want to make a difference?

This works beautifully with the practices I’ve picked up from Dan Sullivan’s Strategic Coach, including the R Factor Question and my own variation of the Impact Filter.

The second habit is to generate energy. The idea here is to make sure you’ve got what you need to get to where you want to go. This has inspired me to invest more in my health, both physical and mental.

On the physical side, Brendon advises that you focus on sleep, exercise, and nutrition as you work to optimize health. I’m in early stages here, practicing a tiny habit of cultivating awareness of what I eat by taking pictures. I also recently started going to the gym once a week. Baby steps.

On the mental side, the focus on generating energy aligns beautifully with what I’ve been learning from Positive Intelligence and developing mental fitness. If you’re not familiar with Shirzard’s work I highly recommend it, starting with the Saboteur Assessment.

The third habit is to raise necessity. For much of my life, I’ve been successfully motivated by a sense of urgency to achieve in order to work through obstacles, particularly financial. My circumstances have improved and revisiting this has given me the opportunity to re-assess what motivates me. Where do I draw the sense of necessity from?

Brendon advises that you cultivate a sense of necessity that drives performance by asking “who needs me on my A game the most, right now?” That aligns beautifully with what I learned reading The Go-Giver and letting service and impact for others influence your motivation.

Another aspect of raising necessity what Brendon describes as leveling up your squad. The idea here is that we become like those that we spend time around. Positive emotions and decisions are contagious and Brendon encourages you seek out the best people to work with for the projects you have coming up. This aligns with what I’ve been learning from Willpower Doesn’t Work and the idea of creating an environment, which includes the people you spend time with, aligned with who you want to be.

The fourth habit is to increase productivity. The heart of the idea here is to figure out what output you can create that most contributes to the likelihood of your success, whatever you’re trying to do.

Brendon goes on to introduce what he calls PQO, or Prolific Quality Output and shares that high performers have high PQO. The idea is that most of your time should be focused on PQO.

A few years back, I listened to an interview Tim conducted with Jim Collins. Jim introduced the concept of a daily tracker, which I adopted. In my tracker, I record hours slept, my own confidence in how the day went, etc., and, now, the number of PQOs for the day.

Brendon also introduces the concept of identifying your “Five Big Moves.” If there were only five major moves you could make to accomplish a given objective, what would those be? I’ve found this a helpful way of breaking down initiatives, both short-term and long term, and have adapted this into how I approach 3 year and 1 year planning.

The fifth habit is to develop influence. The idea here is that influence is a key ingredient to high performance and, accordingly, influence is something you want to strengthen and grow.

Brendon advises you strengthen influence by focusing on teaching those you serve “how to think” and then challenging those you interact with to ask questions and grow. These practices combined are designed to increase your influence.

The sixth habit is to demonstrate courage. My takeaway here is that the best things in life often require you to invest time outside of your comfort zone and that doing that well, with your whole heart, requires vulnerability, which requires courage.

Brendon advises us to view struggle, the obstacles in our way, as a necessary, important, and even positive part of your journey. This aligns with the message from Ryan Holiday’s The Obstacle is the Way, which I found to be an encouraging reminder to embrace what comes at you, accept it as it is, and focus on how you choose to react.


I listened to High Performance Habits on Audible and found it to be inspiring and empowering. I started it over a year ago and as I finished it today it was great to see the habits and practices I started in my first read through still integrated into my personal operating system.

A thread that stood out as I finished the book today was the role that confidence plays in high performance. In my own experience, I’ve found confidence to a consistent key to my best outputs and the positive outcomes that often attend.

Brendon suggests that increasing confidence starts with intention, then builds through consistent action over time. I like that and it aligns with thoughts I’ve been cultivating about how to teach confidence. More on that another time.