“Peak performance equals sustainably getting the most out of yourself and feeling good about it.“
Plenty has been written about achieving peak performance in sport, career and life. But there is a black hole in the literature when it comes to the tools and practices required to consistently perform at your absolute best over the course of an athletic season, a long professional career and ultimately an entire lifetime.
This week I convene with Brad Stulberg (@BStulberg) and Steve Magness (@stevemagness), two high performers who both quested for greatness but fell short, succumbing to the paralyzing burnout that all too often destroys the hopes and dreams of even the most talented, determined and capable.
Once a rising star at McKinsey & Co. with a stint consulting on health care at The White House, Brad was a golden boy determined to maximize his seemingly unlimited career potential. Instead, he worked himself right out the door of his chosen profession. Reinventing himself as a writer and author, today Brad specializes in the health and the science of human performance, known for his ability to merge the latest science with compelling personal stories to offer readers practical insights that they can apply in their own lives. Currently a columnist for Outside Magazine and New York Magazine, Brad has also written for Forbes, NPR, The Los Angeles Times, Runner’s World, and The Huffington Post. And because Brad’s insights are generally so awesome, they often find their way into my weekly Roll Call newsletter.
An elite track & field athlete with very realistic Olympic dreams, Steve clocked an extraordinary 4:01 mile in high school. As a collegiate, he would spend the next several years chasing the elusive sub-4 minute barrier, unable to best what he accomplished as a teen. Steve reinvented himself as one of the most accomplished, respected and in demand track & field and cross country coaches in the world. In addition to serving up duties at the University of Houston, he is the personal coach to some of the most accomplished professional and Olympic runners on the planet.
In the wake of their respective course corrections, both Brad and Steve wondered: what could we have done differently? And more importantly, what can be learned from the latest science, our experience and that of others to save people from suffering our fate?
The product of that inquiry is Peak Performance: Elevate Your Game, Avoid Burnout and Thrive with the New Science of Success. Based on science and insight derived from some of the world’s most accomplished athletes, artists, and intellectuals, it’s a must-read primer on the common principles that drive and ultimately sustain performance, regardless if you’re trying to qualify for the Olympics, break ground in mathematical theory, craft an artistic masterpiece or just become a better weekend warrior, parent or professional.
Today, I sit down with Brad and Steve to unpack the aforementioned common principles. Chockablock with life-enhancing treasures, this is a great conversation about:
- defining peak performance
- the principles behind sustaining peak athletic performance
- achieving & sustaining peak performance in a non-athletic context
- the courage to rest – when training becomes overtraining
- the identity conundrum – the danger of defining yourself by what you do
- why purpose beats passion as the ultimate performance enhancer
- the importance of defining your core values
- the mindful path to self-actualization
- habits for tackling fear
- the role of service – getting outside yourself
- top tools & habits for for long-term success
My primary takeaway from this exchange? The path to sustained peak performance isn’t a to-do list. It’s a journey of self-becoming. It’s about discovering, uncovering and embracing who you truly are, and constructing a mindful, principled approach to actualizing that identity over the long haul.
I absolutely love both of these gentlemen and this takeaway-packed exchange lays bare that heart felt sentiment.
I sincerely hope you enjoy the conversation as much as I enjoyed having it.
Peace + Plants,
P.S. – If you enjoyed Brad and Steve, sign up for their Peak Performance Newsletter. It’s great.
Thanks to this week’s sponsors:
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- Book: Peak Performance: Elevate Your Game, Avoid Burnout, and Thrive with the New Science of Success*
- Book: The Science of Running: How to find your limit and train to maximize your performance* by Steve Magness
- Connect with Brad: Twitter | Website | Facebook
- Connect with Steve: Twitter | Website
- Peak Performance Book: Website
- Podcast: Magness & Marcus on Coaching
- Articles by Brad Stulberg at Outside Magazine
- Articles by Brad Stulberg at New York Magazine
- Articles by Steve Magness at Runner’s World
- Daily Mail U.K.: Lord Coe’s relationship with Nike put him in denial says whistleblower Steve Magness by Nick Harris
- Reuters: Sponsors missing from action in war on doping: whistleblower by Mitch Phillips
- ESPN: Athletes, others who raise doping concerns in sports often left whistling into the wind by Bonnie D. Ford
- Outside Magazine: Meet Steve Magness the Mad Scientist of Running by Brad Stulberg
- New York Magazine: Ditching All My Running Gadgets Made Me a Better Runner by Brad Stulberg
- Men’s Health: Why You Should Take a Midday Nap Today by Brad Stulberg & Steve Magness
- Huffington Post: Why You Should Stop Hacking Your Life and Invest in the Journey by Rich Roll
Notable People Discussed
- Bernard Lagat: Multiple time world champion runner and Olympic medalist
- Alan Webb: 2004 Olympian, American Record Holder in the Mile 3:46.91
- Natasha Rogers: NCAA 10-K Champion, Runner-up at 2012 Olympic Trials
- Dr. Stretcher: Author of: Life on Purpose: How Living for What Matters Most Changes Everything*
- Anthony Ervin: 2x Olympic gold medalist in the 50 meter freestyle (and podcast guest!)
- Kerry Walsh Jennings: American professional beach volleyball player, three-time Olympic gold medalist, and a one-time Olympic bronze medalist (and podcast guest!)
- Wim Hof: Meditation & cold exposure expert (and podcast guest!)
- Viktor Frankl: Austrian neurologist, psychiatrist, Holocaust survivor and author of: Man’s Search For Meaning*
- Ryan Holiday: Author of: The Obstacle Is The Way* and Ego Is The Enemy* (and podcast guest!)
- Phoebe Write: Professional 800m runner, NCAA champion
- Sam Harris: Author, philosopher, neuroscientist and critique of organized religion
- Arianna Huffington: author, syndicated columnist, businesswoman co-founder and editor-in-chief of The Huffington Post (and podcast guest!)
- Chrissie Wellington: 4-time Ironman World Champion
- Adam Grant: Wharton professor, 2-time NY Times bestselling author and leading expert on motivation, meaning & success
- Dan Pink: author of five best-selling books about work, management, and behavioral science
Related Podcasts You Might Enjoy
- RRP #262: Lessons On Mindset With Kerri Walsh Jennings
- RRP #120: Michael Gervais on How To Master Mindfulness in Sports & Life
- RRP #252: Dr. Michael Gervais On Elite Performance & The Psychology Of Self-Mastery
- RRP #57: Dr. Jeff Spencer On Achieving Prolific Peak Performance & Optimizing Your Best Self With The Champions Blueprint
- RRP #168: Turning Adversity To Advantage: Ryan Holiday On Why The Obstacle Is The Way
- RRP #239: Ryan Holiday On The Perils Of Ego & Inherent Value Of Humility
- RRP #273: Mark Allen: One Of The Greatest Athletes Of All Time On The Spirituality Of Peak Performance
- RRP #198: It’s An Inside Job: Olaniyi Sobomehin On How To Maximize Potential In Sport & Life
*Disclosure: Books and products denoted with an asterisk are hyperlinked to an affiliate program. We are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites.
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