This post is an index of my book nuggets from the book Overachievement: The New Science of Working Less to Accomplish More, by John Eliot, Ph.D .
Book nuggets are simply my key takeaways from the book, including key principles, patterns, and practices.
Overachievement is a book focused on exceptional performance in work and life.
Dr. Eliot draws from his real-world coaching of Olympic athletes, surgeons, actors, salespeople, and superstars in other fields. He also draws from cutting-edge research in cognitive neuroscience.
Book Nuggets from Overachievement
Here are my book nuggets from Overachievement so far:
- Confidence is Knowing and Going – Confidence is about having a vision and executing against it. According to Eliot, confidence is knowing and going.
- Design a Routine for Exceptional Thinking – Do you have a routine for getting into your best mindset? Exceptional thinking is when you’re in the moment. You’re fully focused on the task at hand. You’re not practicing. You’re performing.
- Getting Out of a Slump – Getting out of the slump involves stop focusing on what can go wrong, focus on what to do right, and take action.
- Use Qualitative Feedback to Improve Your Performance – How can you systematically improve your performance? Create your own feedback system. The key is to focus on the quality of your work and the quality of your thinking.
- Sharpen Your Focus One Pitch at a Time – Focus on one pitch at a time. It’s not about reducing your workload and having less to do. In fact, Eliot writes that you can use the chaos of your day to build exceptional focus. Find the simplest, most specific, most immediate task to narrow your focus.
- Positive Action Over Positive Thinking – Great performers use positive action over positive thinking to produce great results. Great performance is not about repeating mantras to yourself. But if you do fall off track, it’s about reminding yourself to get back on the horse.
- Build Real and Durable Confidence from the Inside Out – Don’t build your confidence from your track record. That’s fragile. Base it on things you control, such as your mindset and your actions.
- Stay Motivated Through Healthy and Sustainable Commitments – How do you stay motivated? How do you keep a sustainable pace? Do you passionately take on challenges or do you try to do just enough to get by? To produce great results, you need a healthy commitment. A healthy commitment is performance-enhancing, while an unhealthy commitment drains you.
- Your Best Performance Happens in the Trusting Mindset – Great performers just step up and do what they’re great at. They don’t focus on the results. Great performers trust their skills. The Training Mindset is when you analyze your performance. Exceptional performance is about simply performing.
- Use Stress to Be Your Best – Stress is your body’s response and anxiety is your cognitive response. The most common assumption is that if you feel stressed, you need to learn how relax. The counterintuitive point is that it’s the anxiety that’s throwing you off your game. Sometimes it’s as simple as just knowing that how you think about your stress, is what causes anxiety.
The Hard Style of Personal Development
What I especially like about this book is it’s focused on hard-core personal excellence. It’s extreme performance for extreme scenarios. In martial arts, there’s soft styles, such as Tai Chi and there’s hard styles, such as kickboxing.
I think the same is true in personal development, where one path, the soft style, emphasizes goal-setting, relaxation, visualization, stress management, and flow.
The other path, the hard style, is focused on ratcheting up your performance by changing how you think about pressure and learning how to welcome it, enjoy it, and make it work to your advantage. It’s about testing yourself and standing strong when tested, using the best of sports psychology. It’s a path of personal excellence.
I think there’s a lot more prescriptive guidance on the soft style and not enough on the hard style, so I think this book is an absolute gem. At the end of the day, I think your best performance comes from having the tools and techniques of both the hard and soft styles at your disposal. I’m a fan of scenario-based techniques, using the right tool for the job, and being flexible in your approach.
From the Back of the Book
Here is a relevant excerpt from the back of the book:
“Relax. Set goals. Focus on the outcome. Lose yourself to the Zone. All reasonable, sensible advice when you are facing a performance challenges, such as a big presentation at work.
And all utterly, hopelessly wrong.
According to John Eliot, Ph.D., ‘Such self-improvement balderdash will do nothing but relegate you to a career in mediocrity. Overachievers don’t think reasonably, sensibly or rationally. If your wish in life is to fit in with the crowd, then this is not the book for you.’”