Peaking too soon

March 17, 2011

The ultimate mistake

The classic scenario of peaking too soon is the coolest guy in the neighborhood driving up to the school in his souped up car to pick up the coolest girl. There are many versions of this analogy. All the other kids stood in awe, this couple was way out of everyone’s league, or so they thought. The sad thing is that these times of youthful success become the defining moments for the people involved.  I went back to where I grew up for a party and met many people from my younger days. It was great to reminisce about those great times but for some the old times were their life highlights. The situation reminded me of Bruce Springsteen’s song ‘Glory Days’ a song about people dissatisfied with life looking back to the glory days. When you peak too soon, your glory days can only be historic and you live life as if there are no future glory days.

There are many cases of sports people who peak early. These people are predicted to be the greats of their sport, yet somehow they don’t unleash their full potential after their initial burst of success. Footballer Michael Owen is a classic example of peaking to soon. As a fresh faced young man, Owen burst onto the international football scene at 18 in the 1998 World Cup becoming England’s youngest player and goal scorer. Owen never got to repeat and build on those early successes. Paul Gascoigne and George Best are extreme examples of sports people with raw talent who peaked early and then went into self destruct mode. In these cases Best and Gascoigne simply could not handle the success of their early peak.

Everywhere you look you will see examples of ‘early peakers’ settling into a life of mediocrity and in some cases leading miserable lives knowing they could have done so much better. There is the young person who did so well in their GCSE’s and just could not do well in A levels. Or the young person who did well in A levels and could not make it at university. There is the person who joins a company and has a few rapid promotions and then levels off and does not rise any further up the company ladder. The good news is that everywhere you look you also see people who continually develop, learn from their mistakes and are happy in the knowledge there are many more peaks ahead.

So what is the mind set of an early peaker? Firstly let’s be clear, an early peaker is someone who has initial success and then stops developing themselves, so the early success becomes their peak. There will be multiple independent variables that influence an early peaker, here are a few:

1.  No big picture goal or awareness of the goal beyond the goal. This means the early success is the defining success
2. Beginners luck, getting lucky early can promote a psyche where an individual does not have to work at success
3. Limited mind set, simple lack of belief in themselves
4. Over celebrating success, so the individual gets so caught up in the success they get left behind
5. All or nothing mentality. If I can’t do it perfectly and have success every time it’s not worth doing
6. Getting annoyed with failure rather than recognising failure as a great learning opportunity

Some people have called NLP the science of success. I disagree with this statement. NLP is not a science and it is full of people who have failed. In fact at the time of writing, a company that claims to be the largest NLP company in the UK is going into liquidation having amassed debts of over £555.000. This company burst onto the scene a few years ago claiming to be the biggest and the best but has failed dramatically. NLP has tools that, when used properly, enable people to be hugely successful in any walk of life and avoid the pitfall of peaking too soon like some of the people mentioned in this article.

The other side of coin, there are people who perform at high levels in their chosen field, reach the top and then carry on their successes in other areas of life. These people show focus, discipline and flexibility in applying successes across different contexts. In sports Kriss Akubusi, Gary Lineker and Sebastian Coe come to mind. These people have incredible sporting records built on commitment and a success psychology. They retired gracefully and have become successful in a different arena and will still have their eyes on new challenges.

So let’s switch the emphasis from peaking too soon to building momentum in life. If the people mentioned in this article used NLP tools to build momentum in their lives and businesses they would not have peaked early and would have reached their full potential and would be continually challenging themselves to develop.

NLP tools for building momentum in any area of life

1. Create a clear vision that is way bigger than any goals you have that are part of the vision. Recognise that the vision will change. Make the vision sensory rich, using VAK modalities and submodalities
2. Set well formed outcomes and be clear about the intention of the outcomes
3. After every success (outcome achieved) after a short period of reflection set the next goal and modify the vision if it is appropriate to do so
4.  Ensure your successes are stepping stones and not the end goals
5. Enjoy a restlessness that more is possible, have your attention open to new things
6. Use absolute focus on every task you perform, go for gold, be a winner
7.  Operate from a state of excellence. Use New Code NLP formats to access high performance states
8.  Celebrate your success but be ready for the next stage in the journey.

So when you set a vision for yourself that is far bigger than your goals, and you are totally committed to the immediate goals and ready to set new ones and are operating from states of excellence, you will not fall into the trap of peaking too soon, instead you will be living a life with momentum enjoying new challenges.

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