4 Mental Hacks of High Performers

High performers—the ones who lead companies and teams to success—are not born better than everyone else. Instead, they've cultivated some very powerful traits.

High performers—the ones who lead companies and teams to success—are not born better than everyone else. Instead, they’ve cultivated some very powerful traits.

Look at your life and ask yourself if you are a high performer. A majority of people are not, with only the top 10 percent of the workforce falling into this category. But don’t write your potential off yet.

Emotional intelligence thought leader and change expert, Dr. JP Pawliw-Fry, has studied top performers and found three consistent traits that anyone can adopt to become a high performance leader. Every month Dr. Pawliw-Fry surveys over 30,000 people in the workplace to narrow in on the traits and qualities that differentiate the top achievers from the poor performers. Here is a look at his findings.


High performers extract more information

Top performers extract three to five times more information than the average person. While paying better attention may seem like an easy behavioral shift to make, most people find it hard to be more observant because they don’t even realize how unobservant they naturally are.

A few simple things you can do to stay focused include leaving your cell phone behind when interacting with others, taking notes (doodles don’t count) when you attend conferences, and making eye contact with others. Active listening is a gateway to effective communication and acquiring more information.


High performers bounce back from failure quickly

We tend to think high performers do better under pressure than most people, but studies show nobody does better under pressure. We all experience stress when the pressures on, but high performers assess their actions under pressure differently.


Photo: Vitaly Nikolenko, Unsplash
Photo: Vitaly Nikolenko, YFS Magazine

When high performers fail or succumb to pressure, the duration of the resulting impact of their mistake fades quicker. High performers view themselves as imperfect and allow for mistakes and subsequent learning. 

In contrast, low achievers fall into a “doom loop” of embarrassment, guilt, and shame.


High performers don’t hold back in tough conversations

Top performers approach situations of high pressure instead of avoiding them and the associated discomfort.  

Pawliw-Fry found that most of us avoid the last eight percent of a hard conversation and only leave 92 percent of what we wanted to say on the table. When the last eight percent is left out, the person giving feedback feels as if they’ve implied what they wanted to say and the recipient feels as if they’ve heard everything that needed to be said. This leads to miscommunication and tension. 

High performers lean into the pressure, address the last eight percent of the conversation (the hardest part) and communicate their thoughts and feelings more effectively.


High performers don’t jump to judgement

Many of us will jump to judgment based on less than five percent of available information. If you’re shaking your head thinking, “I don’t do that!” think back to the last time you misread the tone of an email, assuming the worst hidden beneath an ellipsis.


Photo: Denis Harsch, Unsplash
Photo: Denis Harsch, YFS Magazine

As the influence of technology grows in every aspect of life and business these judgments can truly harm us. Pawliw-Fry says if you want to be a high performer, follow up an email or text with a phone call, and follow up an assumption with a learning conversation. Start with: “Help me understand why…”

With these four mental hacks anyone can train themselves to be a high performer and reach the next level success.


Jessica Welch received a Bachelor’s degree in English, Creative Writing with a minor in Anthropology from California Polytechnic State University. After graduating she spent a year teaching at a low-income high school in Oahu, HI.

Jessica is passionate about helping others and sees her work with BigSpeak as a great way to help spread knowledge. Connect with @bigspeak on Twitter.






© YFS Magazine. All Rights Reserved. Copying prohibited. All material is protected by U.S. and international copyright laws. Unauthorized reproduction or distribution of this material is prohibited. Sharing of this material under Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International terms, listed here, is permitted.


In this article