“We should not judge people by their peak of excellence; but by the distance they have traveled from the point where they started.” ~ Henry Ward Beecher
Building a Ladder to Elite Performance Through Flow
Flow is a peak state of consciousness where you work and feel your best.
In flow, we are 500% more productive, 490% faster in learning new things, and 430% better at creatively solving problems. This gives you a massive competitive advantage in the marketplace of ideas.
In this article, I will explain the following:
- 7 Ways to Get Into A Flow State
- How Tiger Medical Improves Energy, Focus, and Achieving Flow
This article is an excerpt from my book published in 2021 titled, Unleash the Peak Performer Within You.
To bring your vision alive and achieve your transformative purpose, intentional engineering is required.
You would never get on a plane if you knew the crew had no flight plan. Similarly, you shouldn’t pursue a vision without a clear plan built on goals.
The best way to create a flight plan for your life is through a laddered goal system.
Validated research has established that setting goals will enhance your motivation and performance. Motivation is one of the key triggers for entering a flow state.
With this in mind, I will share a goal-setting process that I’ve used for years, both personally and in organizational leadership roles, to drive goal achievement.
Larry Bossidy, in his book Execution: The Discipline of Getting Things Done, wrote, “Execution is not just tactics—it is a discipline and a system. It has to be built into a company’s strategy, its goals, and its culture.”
The quote relates to a corporate setting, but the parallel to personal goal setting applies. If you’re seeking elite performance levels, it requires a system, repeated daily over months and years to bring about the compound effect.
Establishing a goal management system needs to become part of your personal culture.
The key to goal setting is alignment. We set goals based on our core values and in relation to our vision, mission, and transformative purpose.
If you skip the hard work of gaining extreme clarity, your goal-setting will be an exercise in futility. If you find your previous goal-setting attempts produced little fruit, it’s because you failed to align them with your vision, mission, purpose, and values.
When everything lines up, you gain the superpower of intrinsic motivation, which drives sustainable energy and grit toward a predetermined set of goals.
Goal-setting characteristics include specificity, measurability, difficulty, and relevancy.
Recall the research by Latham and Locke supporting specificity and difficulty—the harder the goal, the better the performance, to a point. Also, the more specific the goal, the better the performance.
Feedback is a key component of flow and understanding necessary changes that must be made to ultimately achieve a goal. If your goals are clearly measurable, they will provide the feedback you need to make course corrections.
Finally, relevancy simply means they are in alignment with who you are desiring to become.
Seven Ways to Get in a Flow State
1. Create a Goal Ladder
The concept of a goal ladder is nothing more than a cadence or rhythm of goal setting and review. However, despite its simple nature, execution is far from simple—it must build as a routine and execute daily.
To build your goal ladder, start with your big, transformative purpose—what you are willing to invest your life in. An example for a basketball coach could be to build into the lives of young men so that they become productive members of society and effective fathers in their home.
Once you establish that, you would work back from that big purpose, reviewing your vision and core values, to set long-term goals that serve your purpose and align with your vision and values.
From there you continue to work backwards in terms of time all the way down to what you will do each day.
This process of moving from 30,000 feet where vision resides to what you do tomorrow reduces cognitive load, gives you something to focus your attention on, and is in line with your purpose, ultimately fueling intrinsic motivation, passion, and energy.
In other words, you are primed for flow every single day!
2. Discover Your Transformative Purpose
Purpose is your why or your reason for being. It should be something that grips you to the core, that excites you, causing you to invest your life in pursuing this purpose.
I encourage you to think big, expand your belief in what is possible, and visualize what your life would be like if you saw your purpose become reality.
Notice the emotions and feelings that occur as you visualize your purpose being realized. This will take time; it’s not a 30-minute exercise. It will take some seasoning in your subconscious to bring out the refined version of your true purpose.
It’s okay if you write it out and then change it several times; you have to refine it to what will motivate you to act.
Purpose is the beginning of layering or stacking intrinsic motivators. The goal ladder represents a full stack of intrinsic motivation from the distant to the present moment, propelling you through days, weeks, months, quarters, and years of peak performance in pursuit of your dream.
3. Establish Long-Term Big Goals
Gary Latham, the father of goal-setting theory, studied goal setting and found that long-term, challenging goals give an 11% - 25% boost in motivation alone. This activates neurotransmitters in your brain to aid in motivation, getting your biology to work for you rather than against you.
Long-term goals are typically 1-5 years and represent a destination you want to arrive at. They are the end-game outcomes that will result in your purpose being fulfilled.
To use our basketball coach example, a junior varsity coach might set a long-term goal of becoming a varsity coach within 1-5 years.
4. Set Annual Goals
When you get to annual goals you begin to get into the repeating rhythm or cycle of setting priorities annually that cascade down into daily tasks.
The idea is to link what you do each day to an upward cascading set of goals and priorities that serve both your long-term goals and your vision, mission, purpose, and values. This is what it means to gain alignment, which leads to massive intrinsic motivation when properly established.
You become a force of nature with little outside support needed to generate the daily focused attention and energy to get into flow and make progress toward your goals.
Author John Maxwell has shared in several of his books and conferences the practice of taking a week each year to review the past year and review your mission, vision, and values.
During this week, you should set priorities for the following year. This is a critical step not to be taken lightly or attempted in a state of distraction.
This exercise sets the course for the entire year, so it’s ivitalto establish top goals for the next year and prioritize them by ranking them in a system such as A, B, or C.
Review these goals often, visualize achieving them, and how to contribute progressively to achieving your big long-term goals.
5. Break Down Annual Goals Into Quarterly Goals
After establishing your annual goals, list out all of the steps needed to reach those goals.
If your goal is to write a book, for example, you would develop the main idea, an outline or table of contents, list all of the research sources and publishers to approach and schedule out blocks of time to write, then ultimately complete the actual writing.
After you have written out the steps to complete your annual goals, it’s time to prioritize when you will complete each.
It’s important to place these steps as goals you will pursue by quarter. You can’t chase all of them at once—if everything is a priority, nothing is.
Think about the 80/20 principle, which states that a vital few of your actions will generate most of your results.
The last step is to rank your goals for each quarter with a letter A for the highest priority, B for the next level priority, and C for the lowest priority. While they are all valid goals and your vision includes completing all of them, some are more vital than others based on the value you’ve assigned to each goal.
At this point, you’ve finished planning the year and your work will transition to a more specific approach.
At the beginning of each quarter, review your goals and decide if any adjustments are in order based on the changing realities of your industry and life.
6. Set Monthly Goals
As you arrive at the beginning of a new month, review your quarterly goals by priority and plan out the top goals for the month.
A tool I like to use that I learned from Tony Robbins is what he calls the Massive Action Plan or MAP. When I plan the next month, I first review how I’ve done that current month, and then I note anything not completed, consider what I know needs to be done today, and I sit and make a list of all the tasks that I believe should be done in the next month.
Again, this is based on my prioritized quarterly goals with a present focus on bringing the quarterly goals into the current month. I will use this monthly process to drive further into my weekly goals.
Harvard Professor George Miller’s classic 1956 article, “The Magic Number 7, Plus or Minus Two: Some Limits on Our Capacity for Processing Information,” he shared research on the limits of our working memory.
The paper suggests we should chunk information into groups to enable us to process information efficiently. The lesson here is to take your massive action plan and chunk it into groups of similar activities and use this list to establish your goals for the month.
Remember, at each step, the goals or tasks should work to build up to the next level goal, ultimately toward achieving your long-term goals, which serve your transformative purpose and are congruent with your core values.
7. Set Weekly Goals
From your monthly goals and massive action plan, you have the information now to establish your weekly goals or tasks. You’re essentially spreading your massive action plan each month over four or five weeks. This is eating the airplane one difficult bite after another.
In my organization, everyone, including me, posts their weekly goals on Monday morning. We all post our monthly goals at the end of the prior month and repost our quarterly goals at the beginning of a quarter in our shared drive.
Each person’s goals align with their long-term goals, as well as their personal vision, mission, purpose, and core values.
Additionally, each team member’s goals support the organization’s goals. We gain group flow from having this clarity built into our culture.
Recall that achieving flow follows focus. As you follow how this goal-setting system unfolds, you can observe how it’s refining down at each level more specificity to necessary actions.
Increasing clarity paves the way for increased attention on fewer, more vital activities that drive accomplishing goals. This enables you to get in the zone for 90-120 minutes at a time, hopefully, for two or three-time blocks each day, if completed step-by-step each day, week, month, and year.
Bonus – Create Daily Scripts
The last step in the refining process is to develop a day script that works for you.
A day script is your road map for a specific day. You need a way to declare a day a win, and your script provides you the feedback to understand if you won or lost that day.
The idea is to repeat the completion of successful days repeatedly and get the power of compounding working for you.
Again, to be a peak performer, you must have a way to declare your day a success or a failure. Developing a day script organizes your attention into the most important and strategic activities.
It’s easy to be overwhelmed by large goals, so you need a way to break it down into parts that are your big goal. It really comes down to your daily script.
The final step is to review your weekly goals/tasks and decide which of the five or six days that week you will focus on each task.
It may require several of the days to complete a particular task, which is okay. Take the time and build your daily scripts for the week, ensuring you have slotted the completion of each goal for the week into a day.
I prefer to get up early on a Sunday morning to review my past week, review upcoming goals/tasks that need to be completed from the monthly goal plan, and then schedule in each day’s tasks right down to the time of day when I will complete each. This enables me to rest easy knowing I’m set up for success each day, my big goals are being acted upon, and when I sit down at my desk in the morning, I can go right into the zone and get amazing work done.
One final thought on building a daily script that works for you is considering your chronotype.
Dr. Michael Brues, author of the book The Power of When: Discover Your Chronotype—and the Best Time to Eat Lunch, Ask for a Raise, Have Sex, Write a Novel, Take Your Meds, and More, suggests that when we do things matters based on our chronotype.
Dr. Brues explains in his book that a chronotype is a propensity to sleep during a specific time period. He categorizes people into four chronotypes: the bear, wolf, lion, and dolphin.
I’m a lion, meaning I get up early with plenty of energy and am sharpest in the morning.
Nearly every word of my book was written before lunchtime.
You can go to his quiz here and learn your chronotype. Once you do, build your script to mesh with your rhythms rather than forcing yourself into a rhythm you will fight.
How Tiger Medical Improves Energy, Focus, and Achieving Flow
Tiger Medical Institute is a specialty medical clinic focused on advanced restorative medicine.
Our focus is on the driven professional who has achieved success but feels their health has been compromised and wants to get ahead of any severe issues proactively.
Tiger employs a three-step process with each patient that has proven to work repeatedly in resolving underlying causes of poor energy and focus.
Poor physiology and symptoms such as insufficient energy will sap your focus and ability to get into a flow state.
These symptoms keep you from showing up as the best version of yourself and sap personal productivity. They also prevent you from working in a flow state where you are 500% more productive, which is a huge loss!
Here is how Tiger Medical helps:
- Test for underlying mechanisms driving your inability to get into flow.
- Customize treatment and lifestyle changes specifically to help boost your peak performance.
- Partner with your Tiger doctor and health coach to implement the plan for a year!
Tiger Medical employs advanced tests to view your health profile comprehensively. You complete a health history survey, and our doctors review, interview, and customize your testing based on what they learn about you.
From test results, we customize your health recovery path. You then enter into the Tiger Medical process that generates results consistently over time.
You can go here to learn from previous Tiger clients how our approach worked for them!
Lastly, it is essential to understand Tiger Medical is not primary care. We recommend that you first seek your local doctor’s opinion, remain under the supervision of your primary care doctor, and augment their care with a specialty clinic like Tiger when it makes sense.
Your Next Best Steps
If, based on the information you have reviewed here in our article and on our website, you feel Tiger Medical is a good fit, then the next best step is to go here to book an assessment call with a Tiger Professional.
In this first call, the meeting is about learning your history, struggles, and goals. This is a valuable assessment process that aids you in deciding if one of Tiger’s programs works to meet your needs.
We want to ensure that you are a good fit for our program and that our Tiger team can help you resolve your challenges.
It’s time to make yourself patient number one and embrace self-care.
The first step in that process is to meet with us to learn how!
For further reading, view the following articles on our learning center: