5 Secrets to High-Performance at Work Throughout Your Career

Do you consider yourself a high-performance worker? Maybe you’re known for climbing the ladder, crushing the competition, and getting the job done. Maybe it’s who you used to be. It could be that you lost your mojo somewhere along the way or that you were never that person to begin with.

Maybe you have the ambition but the follow-through just never really panned out.

When it comes to high-performance in the workplace, the toughest part is sustaining it. Most of us can be at the top of our game for the first few months and even the first few years on the job. Sustaining our performance for our entire career, however, especially if that career spans decades...

That can be tough.

Here are my five best pieces of advice for staying on the top of your game at any stage of your career.

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5 Secrets to Peak Performance at Any Stage of Your Career

1) Place a high value in being a team player.

One of the misconceptions about high-performance individuals is that they’re just that—individuals working alone. Studies show, however, that one of the primary behaviors associated with high-performance workers is the ability to collaborate well. High-performance people play well with others. They’re strong communicators who can fit seamlessly into teams and bring them up, utilize and maximize their skills in a collaborative setting, and turn into role models for their team members.

2) Learn from the new guys.

If you want to stay at the top of your game for your entire career, never think you’re too old or too experienced to learn from the new guys. This is a big mistake that established and experienced people make. And while experience speaks volumes and is to be respected, it can often stifle innovation and creative thought.

High-performance workers know that the new guy brings value to the conversation. He’s worth listening to. You might learn about new methods, new schools of thought, or new perspectives that you would never have considered otherwise. This helps expand your horizons. It will keep you on your toes and moving outside of your comfort zone—a place where employees at top of their game never settle.

3) Be a lifelong learner.

If you want to always be at peak performance, you constantly have to be sharpening your skills. While we might think that work itself is practice enough, it will turn into a dulling monotony that lulls us into a comfortable mediocrity if we’re not careful. Many people will be okay with “good enough” if you give them enough time doing something day in and day out.

Constantly seek out inspiration. Look for something to spark your joy and enthusiasm for what you do. Learn a new skill. Read a book. Pick up a side project. Find an area in which you can innovate. Learn to be curious!

4) Know who does it better than you.

Can you name your top competitor right now? Do you know who, in your field, is a threat? Who could step in and take your job? If you don’t, learn who they are. If you do, learn why they’re better than you and figure out how you can be better than them.

Crush your competition. Whether it’s a company or an individual, take their standard of excellence and raise the bar. If you aren’t number one, make your goal to be number one. You have to have that competitive fire to be the undisputed best in your field.

5) Value accountability.

Lastly, you have to value accountability. This covers many aspects, but it comes down to two real categories: ethics and management. Management is more simple. Accountability in terms of self-management is simply learning to be totally responsible for your work and your accomplishments. It’s taking the reins, tracking your performance, and not waiting for your performance review before you take steps to improve yourself. It’s being introspective and self-critical. You must be able to self-manage effectively.

Where ethics are concerned, I’ll say this: gone are the days of crushing everyone on the ladder on the way to the top. You can be the most hard-working, competent, high-performance worker that a company has ever seen, but if you don’t conduct yourself with the highest of ethical standards, it’s not likely your reign will last.

Toxicity will kill a career. Ethics in the workplace matter, especially in the long-term.

What keeps your drive going year after year? Share what ignites your career passion in the comments.