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The Evolution of Performance Training

Evolution has had its way with everything since the beginning of time, and the evolution of performance training is no exception.

Performance training is moving away from tactics-only methods for inducing a person or an organization of people to be more productive at almost any cost and toward enabling individuals and whole cultures with strategic lifestyle-based performance plans.

The result? Relatively balanced, healthy, sustained performance and even more productivity.

For decades, performance training was seen solely as the domain of sport.

It then expanded into the domain of business, but like in sport, it remained focused on tactical elements: those aspects of performance that have the most direct impact on achieving an outcome. In both domains, though more so in business, performance is seen primarily in the light of productivity and not in the light of what actually promotes sustained performance with increased periods of production capacity.

This new light is the lifestyle domain. The net effect is new levels of productivity that professionals and companies thought they could only dream about.

Before we get into the details of living a Performance Lifestyle, let’s look at the evolution of performance training from the tactical to a full blown strategic lifestyle that supports the individual and what they’re up to in the world.

Note: Performance training in business consistently parallels what’s happening in sport.

The Evolution of Performance Training, Stage 1

Performance as a tactical inducement

The world of sports is where performance training established its roots, with a typical focus on athletic performance training. Performance nutrition and getting adequate sleep was a late arrival as a tactical focus in the profession of sports performance training.

Just recently, it became national news when NFL coach Pete Carroll of the Super Bowl Champion Seattle Seahawks acknowledged sleep as one of his team’s secret weapons to “health and performance.” Combined with sports psychology and game strategy, that has been the breadth and depth of sports performance training to date.

It is only in the last decade or so that recovery strategies have become increasingly important to sports performance training. One of the most advanced books on enhancing recovery in athletes just so happens to be A Coach’s Guide to Enhancing Recovery in Athletes: A Multidimensional Approach to Developing a Performance Lifestyle, written by one of our lifestyle and science advisors, Ian Jeffreys.

I met Ian Jeffreys when we were several years into the development of the Performance Lifestyle for athletes— which you’ll discover is a “leading edge” development—as well as for entrepreneurs and business professionals, which is the “bleeding edge” development you will learn about here.

The evolution of viewing sleep as a strategic function for health and performance, rather than simply a natural function without much explanation, is resulting in more than just a new and improved way to recuperate for athletes. It also reveals the reality of why athletes are such high performers. Despite the fact that their training typically focuses mostly on athletics and nutrition, their entire lifestyles orient around their performance and that means more recuperation. Now that’s something less than 1% of business people can claim.

The Evolution of Performance Training, Stage 2

Make sure you get enough sleep, eat healthy, and exercise

One of the things that has always carried weight in business is the sports metaphor. There is something about how we watch athletes perform that doesn’t happen in any other profession. Event-centric sporting provides the ideal forum to witness how well a player has lived and prepared for competition.

This doesn’t happen in the business world. We don’t have pre-seasons, peak seasons, and postseasons. Instead, we work all year, with important events happening almost every day.

In sports, showing up in peak condition is a badge of honor. In everyday business life, the badge of honor—at least until recently—is the story of how how hard you’re working and the symptoms that prove it.

Too many business professionals live on coffee, instead of strong foundations of sleep. The norm is eating and drinking whatever is needed to stimulate our way through the day, and squeezing in exercise when we have enough energy to spare. As a result, while we’ve maintained productive stretches of time with this strategy, business people, as a whole, suffer from various levels of exhaustion, fatigue, burnout, and all the consequences that ensue from this position of weakness.

In recent years, the real stories of entrepreneurs, business professionals, and leaders who struggle with burnout and limited capacities to keep up with performance demands are starting to come out.

Enter the new focus on sleep.

In the past decade, and paralleling the above innovations in sport, we began to learn that things aren’t that much different in the game of life sport. Like athletes, we need to have optimal living practices that enable us to pursue excellence without burning out or developing the health complications that inevitably follow. Leading that charge is the new focus on sleep, in addition to the usual focus on eating healthy and exercising. See the parallel?

This is a significant development, but it get’s even better. And yes, sport continues to lead the way.

The Evolution of Performance Training, Stage 3

Performance as a lifestyle

Sports performance training for the UK Cycling Team moved beyond typical performance analysis of athletic training and nutrition and is now focusing on the individual behind the performance. The emergence of Performance Lifestyle support focuses on removing the conflicts, concerns, and distractions that hold athletes back from sustaining their training and winning in their sport. It was discovered to be overwhelming for athletes to have such rigorous training demands (their business) while also having so many distractions.

In this second evolution of performance training, athletic trainers and coaches focus on the individual behind the performance, not just on the tactical elements of improving performance or desired productivity results. They focus on the entirety of the athlete’s lifestyle.

Enter the entrepreneur.

Can you think of one group of people other than entrepreneurs and business professionals—who may also be working parents on top of other potential roles in their life—who have greater demands on their time and energy? The expectations are similar to those of elite athletes, despite the reality that they may not be sports or fitness enthusiasts.

As a former athlete turned worn down, workaholic entrepreneur, when I discovered Performance Lifestyle training back in mid-2000, I got it right away. Performance training wasn’t just about time management and results-oriented psychology; it was about developing a lifestyle that maximized one’s capacity to perform and be productive.

Similar to the awakening that’s been happening in sports, business people are waking up to the central power and impact that all aspects of lifestyle have on results in life and business, not just sport. What’s amazing is the new breadth and depth we can now access to genuinely unleash our potential and dramatically improve quality of life without compromising productivity.

Performance Lifestyle is the ideal context for business people to discover the fundamentals of successful living in an wholly new context; one inspired by ever-evolving sports performance training, which is beginning to adopt performance lifestyle training at the leading edge.

Entrepreneurial and professional performance training has had it’s own evolution. While better communication, strategic planning, positive thinking, sales training, and time management historically focus in the psychological realm to induce higher levels of productivity, today we’re starting to see lifestyle training for business pros.

A great example is the emergence of the corporate athlete. Unlike sports, where there is actual focus on the individual’s production capacity (their capacity to perform), in business, what passes for performance training is really productivity training. A “performance review” is really a productivity review.

This too is changing.

With the perpetual fatigue experienced by most business people—especially entrepreneurs, professionals, and leaders of high-growth organizations—if total lifestyle performance isn’t addressed, productivity will ultimately suffer.

It’s no wonder why performance training is now becoming Performance Lifestyle training and lifestyle change is becoming the order of the day. The results are immediate both in the short and long term.

Performance Lifestyle training is still at the bleeding edge, but with the emergence and impact of this outlook on athletes and sports teams, it can only work wonders for today’s business professional. Here at Performance Lifestyle, Inc., we think we’ve got the most comprehensive Performance Lifestyle program ever developed for entrepreneurs.

Final Thought

With the popular belief that it takes 90 days or more to change a habit, it’s no wonder why performance tactics are the common target. People don’t think there’s time for lifestyle change, so they just load up with caffeine and keep on trucking!

Contrary to the 90-day belief, it doesn’t have to take long to change a habit and experience the results (unless you are extremely conflicted or unclear about what you are trying to change or why). So it’s a good thing evolution has had it’s way.

Get ready for Performance Lifestyle training.

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