How Peak Performers Prepare for Success

Sorry to have to break it to you folks, but true peak performance is usually the result of many, many hours of study, preparation and practice. Dr Robert Schuller put it this way: “Spectacular achievement is always preceded by unspectacular preparation.” How true it is.

Many people shy away at this point. They don’t like to acknowledge that to achieve their ultimate goals they might have to work at it. In fact, achieving any significant goal will take many hours of preparation.

Studies of peak performance by K. Anders Ericcson have shown that it takes about 10 000 hours of study, practice, and preparation to become an expert. This has now been shown across multiple fields of performance. My mentor Frank Farrelly, a world-famous therapist once replied when I asked him how to get there faster, “The first 10 000 interviews are the hardest!” Now years later with the benefit of well over 10 000 coaching, counselling and consulting hours behind me I realise how true his words were.

Most of the peak performers I have met succeeded because they persisted where others with superior ability gave up. They kept on practicing and learning and applying their skills, typically putting in much more practice time than anyone else, and their efforts ultimately paid off.

Famous basketball player Larry Bird was renowned for getting to the court early and staying back late after the game to practice. This was the same guy they said “can’t shoot can’t jump.” He didn’t get to be able to shoot and jump so well and prove them all wrong without a great deal of practice.

When you practice it is essential to do so in a way that will produce maximum results – i.e. always practice with the “game” in mind, whether that “game” is a business meeting, a sales presentation, a speech, a sporting event, a musical performance, or some other performance situation. In all of these areas you’ll need to learn new and better ways to get the results you want. Doing the same things that aren’t working won’t cut it.

As far as possible, practice should simulate the conditions you will face in the “game”.

Michael Jordan, arguably the best basketball player who ever lived, was renowned for training with the same intensity with which he played the game, something which was a surprise to many who hit the training court with him. However, he knew that unless the intensity was dialed up during training sessions he would be no more able to cope with the intensity of game situations following training than before them.

There is a process called state-dependent learning (Ernest Rossi) which says that the emotional state you learn something in becomes connected to what you have learned, the location you learned it in, and anything else that is present at the time. This is why if you can practice the skill in the place where you are going to perform you will likely do better. It isn’t always essential to actually go there physically however because you can go there in your mind. Many Olympic champions do this extensively. If it works for them, it can work for you too.

On the other side, I’ve seen athletes and business achievers who made it to the top with a lot of effort and hard work but when they arrived at the big time they became over-awed by all the hype and spectacle and failed to star. This is why it is important not just to do the work in physical preparation, but also prepare yourself for success mentally and emotionally.

You must get yourself familiar with – and comfortable in – the environment within which you wish to achieve, especially if that environment is currently way outside your comfort zone. The way to do this is with mental / emotional practice – imagine yourself succeeding and allow yourself to feel the positive feelings which will come with your success.

Researchers have found mental practice to be every bit as effective as physical practice, and combining physical practice and mental practice brings even better results. Studies have even shown that muscle strength can be increased using mental practice alone, with a 35% increase reported in one study – just from imagining working out! (Ranganathan, Siemionow, Liu, Sahgal, & Yue, 2004:

It’s been said that your subconscious mind can’t tell the difference between something you vividly imagine and something you actually do (Maxwell Maltz). These studies show that the results of mental practice don’t just translate into your beliefs, they also translate into real physical differences in your muscular system! We can infer that the same process might work with whatever type of “muscles” and skills you would like to develop.

Whether you do so physically or mentally or a combination of both, the right practice and preparation will take you where you want to go.

So start right now and imagine yourself doing well. It isn’t even essential to be able to get a mental image in order for this to work, just get a sense of how it will feel when you achieve your goal. Set up a routine and do this consistently until the result is programmed into your subconscious mind.

When you are willing to practice and prepare consistently you will join the ranks of the high achievers and you can look forward to enjoying the success that is rightly yours.

Here’s some guidelines to accelerate your progress:

  1. Make every training session count.
  2. Where possible study, prepare or train in the place where you want to produce the result
  3. Multiply your practice opportunities to compress time.
  4. Be prepared to do that little bit extra. Remember successful people do the things that unsuccessful people don’t do, or won’t do; they get ahead in the time that others waste.
  5. To accelerate your progress, combine your practice with techniques from the new field of Energy Psychology. This emerging field is producing results that are exciting experts all over the world. For an overview of some of the most popular of the EP techniques see:

When you are willing to practice and prepare consistently you will join the ranks of the high achievers and you can look forward to enjoying the success that is rightly yours.

Related Quotes:

“A journey of a thousand miles starts from beneath one’s feet.” – Lao Tzu

“Genius is one percent inspiration and ninety nine percent perspiration.” – Thomas Edison

“You get sick of training, but that’s the time you stick to it. That’s when one runner proves himself better than the others. Anyone can do well when he’s enthusiastic. Its when you stick to it that you show you’re the superior man. Speed is a gift but endurance is an achievement.” – Herb Elliott, Olympic gold-medal winning runner.

“The greatest composers did not set to work because they were inspired, but became inspired because they were working. Beethoven, Wagner, Bach and Mozart settled down day after day to the job at hand with as much regularity as an accountant settling down each day to their figures. They didn’t waste time waiting for inspiration.” – Ernest Newan

Workaholic Manager Finds Balance and Flow

John is a manager in an engineering business. I’m seeing him for leadership coaching and this is our first session. I ask about his current challenges and he tells me he finds it difficult managing the expectations of his bosses, employees and clients along with dealing with safety concerns related to his role. He looks stressed and tired and he sighs deeply as he tells me this.

I mention that his Managing Director used the term “workaholic” to describe him and he agrees with a wry smile that it fits him to a ‘T’. He explains that his concerns about doing things right and his fears that he might get something wrong keep him at work late and awake at night. He’s beset by fears of making a mistake, even though logically he knows it will all be fine.

Next, I ask about his goals. He says he wants to advance in the company and earn more money for his family but as he tells me this he sighs deeply once again. At home he has a wife and two kids, and another on the way. He and his wife want to move into a better area. He knows he should be networking more but he finds that difficult. And again he sighs.

I can already see where this is heading, so I start my intervention.

First I deliver the bad news:

I tell him what he already knows but has been denying: his situation is unsustainable. Taking on more negative stress while he can’t even manage the stress he’s experiencing now is not going to take him where he wants to go. He’s heading for a crash and burn. He knows what I am talking about, and he has to agree. But he can’t see a way out.

Then I deliver the good news:

“This is your lucky day”, I say. It’s a line I’ve come to use quite often now with corporate leaders. I point out that the problem is not just in his mind, it’s in his body too, referring to his sighs and easily observable stressed and depressed demeanour as proof. And then I proceed to teach him the two golden techniques that will release him from the pressure he’s under and free him to achieve what he really wants with less stress and a stronger sense of his own power.

What are those techniques?

One is Simple Energy Techniques (SET), a gentle and natural acu-point tapping technique which I co-developed with my colleague Dr David Lake. SET evolved from Emotional Freedom Techniques (EFT) and is very effective and user-friendly and equally effective. It’s a simple (as the name implies) process of stimulating various body energy points via gently tapping on them. The results of which are often surprising and profound.

SET is great for releasing the stress and negative emotions that have been preventing you from being able to perform at your peak. Most people can learn it in just a few minutes and they are frequently astounded when they discover just what it can do for them. One senior leader, after a coaching session at a critical time in his business, said: “Tapping saved my life!” It’s every bit as true for John too, who has now found a way to release the stress and pressure that had been weighing him down, enabling him to get back to focusing on what’s really important in his life.

The second technique is a powerful process I developed that I’m currently calling Intention-based Energy Process (IEP). IEP enables you to rapidly release emotional stress and restore yourself to a place of clarity, calm, and focus. IEP uses specific intentions that function as commands to your subconscious mind to release the fears, emotional attachments and negative beliefs that have been keeping you stuck. It can also help to clear the disturbed feelings in your body, and restore your energy back to flow. When you feel clear in your body and your mind you are able to make good decisions. And that is a great place to be, especially for a leader like John whose actions and results have an effect on the entire company’s trajectory.

Within minutes after introducing these techniques to John and applying them to his work and home stresses, he starts to relax. But that’s just the beginning. Next, he starts to see possibilities where before he saw only barriers, he finds he can access inner strengths that just moments ago were swamped under layers of stress, pressure and feelings of failure. He starts to come alive again. His eyes get a spark and he looks like a younger, more carefree version of himself: one who welcomes the challenge of doing something great.

He walks from my office with a new spring in his step. His life is no longer on a pre-determined trajectory spiralling ever-downwards to an ignominious end. There is a chance now, just a chance that he can have what he wants in life and that he might even get to enjoy it…

Two months later I ring the MD. “How’s he going?”, I ask. “He’s like a different person”, he replies, “More positive, proactive, more focused, just totally different.” They are so pleased with his changes that they are now considering him for a more senior position.

This is a regular scenario for me now, it’s what I live for and what I love about what I do. I get to help my clients to rediscover that spark, to access and reawaken that part of them that is so much bigger than whatever problems their role or life can throw at them. I help them get back in touch with the things (that aren’t really things) which are really important to them, and to focus their life and energy around that. I help them to achieve their goals and even more importantly to discover and live their true values. And in the process I help them to be happy again.

Where can I find out more?

Go here to learn more about SET:

Simple Energy Techniques (SET)

See this webinar recording to learn more about IEP:


Breaking Through The Glass Ceiling

The glass ceiling is the invisible barrier which is seen as preventing many women from assuming senior management and leadership positions in organisations. 

The real glass ceiling is in your belief systems. 

I’m not saying there are not external barriers that make it more difficult for women to get ahead in some organisations, there are, I’ve seen them and I’ve also worked with many female clients who’ve had to deal with them. However, what I can say is that the biggest changes in the future are going to come from those women who have done the self-work to overcome their own inner doubts and fears. Men (and other women) will quite simply have to respond to them. 

No matter what challenges you have to face, overcoming the inner challenges comes first.

My mentor Alan Weiss says it succinctly: The first sale is ALWAYS to yourself.

I worked with a woman who’d recently won a senior management role, and was having trouble with a strong male who was undermining her and bypassing her. Within a few minutes of talking with her it became clear that she still saw herself at the previous level in the department where she had expertise. She doubted her own ability. 

The challenge for all of us when we decide to move up to the next level is to decide to be that; to decide to be at that new level and commit to it.  So my first question to many clients when I see this is: Do you really want to do this, or not? Because if you do, then you need to decide to be there and go for it! 

This lady did want to go for it, so I taught her the tapping, and we immediately started to apply it to her self-doubts and primitive fear reactions, initially over having to confront this dominant alpha male in the senior team who was not showing her respect. We focused the tapping on his dismissive, disrespectful behaviour and her inner reactions to it. Once these feelings shifted, she was able to confront his behaviour and lo and behold he immediately started to behave more appropriately.

Even more, from the moment she made the internal decision to take on board the new role, she started to act more like someone befitting the role. She shifted her office over to where all the other senior managers were located, and also started to gain traction in the areas of the business where she’d previously not developed as much expertise. i.e. Getting outside of her comfort zone. 

In our most recent session, we started to work on having her think more strategically, and put her ideas forward to the senior management group, an area which she hasn’t seen as a strength. I began by asking how she saw the senior group: Turns out she saw them as being brilliant men who she felt privileged to be around. Well that unfortunately puts her below them and also creates a tendency to idealise them and their positions. We had to bring them down to size so she could see them more neutrally, and we were able to do this with two emotion management techniques.

The next step was to look at how to increase the likelihood of having her ideas accepted, and immunise her against the fear of having her ideas rejected. Overcoming this fear is often fairly straightforward: Simply focus on the idea of putting your ideas forward and working on the inner reactions that come straight up! Then, applying these techniques to any past negative experiences where your ideas were rejected or where you learned to hold back, thus gaining the freedom to go forward without having to be held back by those past memories. 

Here’s another distinction: When you see yourself below others, putting your ideas forward is one way of seeking acceptance from them. In this case the idea is no longer just an idea, it represents your value. If this is you, then you need to detach your identity and self-worth from your ideas. Traditionally, men have been better able to do this than women, often saying things like “It’s not personal.” 

Where you have tended to take things more personally, tapping can help you to detach from this, leaving you freer to look at the ideas value separate to what their acceptance might gain for you or their rejection might cause for you. Try tapping on “My ideas equal my value” and also ask where you learned this BS (Belief System). 

Finally, I want to mention something my good friend Rachel Green reminded me of in one of her recent articles: Networking and relationships is essential to progress, and who you network with is most important. It is crucial for women to have internal networks (i.e. within the organisation, not just outside it), and in particular, women need to be willing to network with men, as well as other women. And for the men: We need to invite women into our networks. 


How Empowering Leaders to Manage Their Emotions Benefits the Bottom Line

Few people understand just how much the emotions of key leaders and managers in a company are affecting the bottom line, how much it can cost not to change this, and just how much learning to manage their emotions can be worth, both to the leaders involved and to the business itself.

One of the most common areas where emotions intrude on performance in business is presentations. Even many senior leaders suffer from presentation fears and anxiety that holds them back and interferes with their ability to communicate key messages and win key contracts.

We conducted a presentation skills program for the senior leaders of an engineering company, teaching them not only how to put together a great presentation but also (the missing link from many programs) how to overcome their presentation fears. One of those leaders was then able to overcome his former fears and give a powerful presentation that brought in a $29 million project to the company. Even if I tell you that we charged a 5-figure fee for our program, you’d have to agree that was a pretty good return on investment. And that was only ONE of many changes that resulted from this program.

What’s it worth for a senior leader in a company like this to get over their presentation fears? Not just doing this one presentation and getting this one contract. What about the fact that he now has the confidence to do more and better presentations in the future without fear getting in the way of his results? And not just him; in this program 14 key leaders all learned these skills and during our time with them we saw many get results, each of which dwarfed our fees in terms of value to the company. They have those changes for life, for all future presentations too.

Now let’s look beyond the dollar value and look at life quality. What’s it worth to be able to move forward with confidence, to not only be able to do presentations without fear, to even enjoy doing them where previously they filled you with dread? What does that do for your confidence in other areas of your life and business too? When you look at the professional effects of this program you’d have to agree they are very good. And overcoming presentation fears is not the only area that tapping can help you with.

I once coached a business owner with an anger problem which was affecting his relationships with his leadership team and others. Over several sessions we were able to help him release the emotional triggers causing him to react angrily in key meetings. He then had a meeting with the guy who was providing IT support to his company and instead of getting angry and (in his words) “blowing up” as he normally would have when told the price, he just sat there, quietly. Well, the IT guy didn’t know what to do in this situation, so he started lowering his prices. My client continued to sit there, so the guy kept going. Ultimately, he reduced his prices by $48 000! As he related this to me in my office, I asked my client what happened next. He said, “I sacked him!” “Why?” I asked. “Because he’s obviously been overcharging me for years!”

Even if I tell you nothing about the other changes made by this business owner, which were substantial, you’d have to agree that a direct $48K return on investment isn’t bad for a few coaching sessions on how to manage his anger better.

Both of the examples I’ve given so far are dwarfed by the experiences of another client, the Australian managing partner of a global law firm, who, when I came in to work with him, had his head in his hands, in major distress over some bad news which threatened the strategic direction of his company. “This is your lucky day!” I said to him, and proceeded to introduce him to a new emotion management technique. His demeanor and outlook started to shift immediately and within just 90 minutes he had transformed in front of my eyes. He then started using the technique on a daily basis to manage his emotional state.

The result? From just that single session and the tapping he did for himself after this he was able to regain his positive energy and transcend the challenges which had threatened to scupper him and the company. Days later he wrote to thank me, saying the work we did together put him back on track in terms of leading the business, restoring his clarity of vision and his confidence, and allowed him to re-access the positive energy so essential to being a good leader.

He later wrote this description of our work together:

“Around Christmas this year I was faced with a very challenging situation on the work front. The organization which I lead had taken a brave course two years before and the other key person who had been the co-architect of our strategy told me he was leaving the organization. Not only did I begin to wonder if the strategy we had adopted was the wrong one I also began to doubt myself and whether I had the energy to continue. I needed someone to talk to about how I felt and I rang Steve to see if he would be prepared to meet. We met a couple of days later. Steve listened to what I had to say, which was itself therapeutic as he is a very good listener. He then suggested that I start ‘tapping’. At first I was a bit taken aback as I had never come across the concept. Steve suggested that I think about the issues that I was worrying about and tap. The strangest thing began to happen – I could feel the knots in my chest and the worries begin to dissolve as I tapped!

I took Steve at his word and tapped religiously (and still do). What this amazing thing enabled me to do, was to regain my faith in respect to our organisation’s strategy, get clarity of thinking and keep going. Now six months later, whilst the journey has not been easy, the organization is booming on all fronts, our people are motivated engaged and aligned and I have inner peace. Thank you Steve.”

On a personal level as a business leader what’s it worth to have a tool to manage your emotions that works such that the things that used to challenge you, overwhelm you, fill you with dread, or drain your energy no longer have that effect on you? Or even, to go from dreading them to being be able to enjoy them? What’s it ultimately worth when a key leader in a company is able to reclaim their confidence, power and positive energy? And what’s it ultimately worth when that positive energy spreads outwards, through them, to everyone in the company and to their customers and beyond? What’s it really worth? As each of these leaders will tell you, it’s priceless.


EFT or Emotional Freedom Techniques, also known as “tapping”, is a revolutionary new “psychological acupressure” technique that often brings rapid relief from stress, anxiety, and other emotional problems. This simple and gentle process of stimulating acupressure points on your body while focusing on emotional problems can often produce surprising results.

As I see it, there are 3 main levels we can work on with energy methods such as EFT.

The first, or primary level of using these techniques is the remedial level. This is where we use EFT to clear out problems, fix phobias, overcome past traumas, and create shifts on the emotional problems that we face. The remedial level is where most people who are working with clients will start, since clients come to us in pain and wanting a shift in their emotional problems. It is also the level where many people who are hurting will seek help, and where a self-helper will focus their attention. Unfortunately, for many people this is as far as they will go with these energy treatments. And that’s a shame. There is much much more that can be achieved. 

In my opinion the best uses of these techniques will be found when we move beyond the remedial level to the preventative level, and then beyond this to the generative level.

I’ll illustrate what I mean by discussing a client I worked with recently.

I recently worked with a CEO who was suffering a public speaking fear. As he had been promoted to CEO the fear, which had been with him as a niggling problem for many years, rose up to an unmanageable level and ultimately he sought treatment.

We first began by applying EFT to the fear, aiming to identify all the aspects – places and times and memories where the fear was a problem. We also identified other emotions associated with the fear, such as his anger at himself for having this problem, and related belief systems such as his perfectionistic striving – and applied EFT to these. I taught him how to use continual tapping and imaginary tapping for “first aid” whenever the feelings arose, and for homework between sessions.

In the second session, we continued treating aspects, which for this gentleman included more work on those mentioned above as well as:

– Off the cuff speaking situations where he was expected to speak when put on the spot
– Speaking to large groups
– Speaking situations when there were officials and people of high status present.

We also searched for and treated past specific events involving presentations where the problem had arisen and where he had been embarrassed by this problem.

Work at this level is rewarding and the person – as did this man – often finds that results are quite quickly achieved and their general anxiety level subsides and confidence improves.

As it was, improvements occurred in the first session, and were built on in the second session. He started to report that the panic and anxiety was arising less often and if it did the anxiety level was much less intense. Plus he was able to use EFT as “first aid” whenever this happened in order to bring his anxiety level down still more.

Along with this “remedial level” work with EFT on clearing aspects, I encouraged this gentleman to think about upcoming speaking events and to apply EFT whilst thinking about them. This is what I consider the preventative or secondary level of applying EFT.

We anticipated troublesome situations and even considered his worst fears (being put on the spot and not being able to speak) and applied EFT to those. He began to feel a sense of excitement and “I can do this” confidence when thinking about these upcoming events – as well as seeing his previously negative thoughts as “irrelevant and stupid”.

The remedial and the preventative level are excellent levels to work on and powerful results can be gained however I believe our work is incomplete if we do not also consider the next level beyond this, which is the creative, generative level.

This is where the person considers alternative possible futures that they might be able to create. It is where we start to use our powers of intention to manifest the performances and achievements that we want. Visualising things going the way you want them to – the ideal – and associating to those images so that you can feel how that will feel, all the while tapping away on the points.

Of course, whenever you set a goal or form an intention to do something differently to how you would have done it in the past, your problems and limitations will rise up, with their attendant objections. These are what Gary Craig calls “Tail Enders”. They could be saying to you, “Here is what is supposed to happen in those sorts of situations (i.e. failure!)”, and along with such thoughts come the attendant images of failure and the associated feelings of embarrassment, humiliation, disgust…

In the case of the CEO I asked him how many times he had imagined and practiced doing well in speaking situations. The answer of course was pretty near zero, since all his thoughts and feelings were of failure and dread, and negative “what if” scenarios. In essence, he was practicing and reinforcing failure. While remedial application of EFT had interrupted that pattern, it was now time so use his intention to create an alternative future, one where he presented with confidence and power.

I asked him about situations he’d like to present well in and the first thing he mentioned was the office Christmas party. This is a typically stressful situation for many senior managers and CEO’s because often many people are involved, including the organisation’s entire heirarchy of senior officers, and the expectation is on them to do an appropriate speech to the troops. That and the fact that this guy was fresh from a “wooden” performance at last year’s Christmas party. 

After some tapping to clear those negative feelings, I asked him how he would like to present at the next Christmas party if things could be ideal. He replied that he would love to be able to use humour, to be able to reach the people in the group and have them smiling and involved in his presentation. I asked him to create this image in his mind, first dissociated like looking at himself on the screen, then in the picture looking out from his own eyes, all the while tapping whilst holding the intention to associate with the feeling of really being there.

His demeanour changed fairly quickly from anxious and deflated to surprised and excited – and a smile broke out on his face. He was surprised to realise that he could not only create the image but also feel positive about speaking situations such as this, with a feeling of looking forward to the opportunity and the possibility of success.

This process of tapping while holding in mind the intention to connect with the success image and emotion I call Connecting With Success. I believe what happens is that, rather than “install” positive feelings, the tapping removes the barriers to being able to connect, settling down the negative thoughts and feelings that are “tuned in” by our previous conditioning around these issues.

While a little more work may be required by this gentleman in order to fully clear the negative aspects and beliefs that are preventing him from achieving his goal, he now knows that he can not only change the feelings about speaking as in reducing the fear, but also that it is possible for him to feel positive anticipation, even excitement over the possibility of real success in the future, and that creating that success in his mind-body is the way to get there.

By working in this way he is starting to build a belief in a positive future possibility. (I need to point out here that this gentleman had tried in the past to engage in creative visualisation but had never been able to succeed because – as he put it – it was as if he was trying to “stuff” the positive image in over the negative image and feelings. With tapping, since we had also done the remedial and preventative tapping work, the opposing feelings had been settled down, the continued tapping whilst holding the positive intention settled down those that remained, and the connection was able to be made).

The key to the Connecting with Success approach is in maintaining your intention to connect, and really feel, the success feelings whilst tapping continually. Just one moment of true connection with those feelings is in my experience superior to hundreds of repetitions of visualisation or affirmations without the feeling.

I recommend to my clients that – at least initially – regular tapping sessions of the generative, creative kind be employed separate from their remedial tapping sessions. Do not kid yourself that remedial tapping will not be required, just ensure that you spend time on manifestation and intention as well as on remediation.

I do believe that all 3 levels of tapping may ultimately be required for best results, and that working through the remedial, to the preventative, to the generative level is the best way to go. A rush to the generative level could result not only in lack of validation and rapport, and could also push the problem parts back underground. The analogy I like is that if a client is stuck in quicksand they’re not interested in scaling the heights, they just want to get back on solid ground. This is where the remedial work with tapping comes into its own.

Once out of the quicksand people can start to think about getting out of the forest, maybe notice some higher ground and move towards this, and once in that vantage point establish a destination. At that point, preventative and generative work is the way to go.

The balance of remedial, preventative and generative tapping provides – in my experience – the best overall results, and I commend it to you.

Want to find out more about how to use tapping to get results in your own life and work? 

Start by viewing this short video on Simple Energy Techniques (SET), a user-friendly version of tapping developed by Steve Wells and Dr David Lake:



I worked with a business owner whose wife and business partner was about to have a baby (their first). Since she had previously driven much of the business visioning, he felt pressure in taking on this role. He also had concerns about handling parenthood, managing the transition, and ensuring financial security for his family.

I began by working with him on the issues and fears that were paramount in the immediate term, primarily the pressure of feeling that the success or failure of the business was now pretty much in his court. I taught him an emotion management technique and we applied it to “this pressure”; “money worries”; “fear of coming changes” and several general issues that provoked anxiety for him. On each, he experienced some relief.

I then asked about his ultimate goals – both for his business and life. I had him go away and discuss with his partner what these were and I also recommended he read Napoleon Hill’s book Think and Grow Rich. I knew that having read this along with the emotion management technique I had recommended, he would return with a new level of enthusiasm towards the future. He did and we went straight to work on setting a new vision for his business.

When we set goals, we are often confronted by limiting beliefs and negative feelings. I believe we need to be expansive in the initial stages, thinking without limits. I am most interested in getting to the big goals that people have been harbouring inside but holding back on. I want them to get into that free-flowing state where they can explore new realms and generate new possibilities. When most of us try to do this our current reality comes up to grab us. We then tend to only see the future through the present, and even if we do see advancement we tend to do so in an additive fashion rather than seeing our true potential for exponential growth.

As with this gentleman, I usually warm up by asking people to identify any negative beliefs and other barriers they have to having, doing and being whatever they desire. And then we give them the tools to work on these beliefs. We take whatever time is necessary to treat these, particularly identity beliefs. In this business owner’s case, there were beliefs about not being smart enough, and not being strong enough. I asked him to make each statement and see how true it felt to him (eg. “I’m not smart enough”), and then we worked on it, with him repeating the negative belief using these new emotional tools (eg. “Even though I’m not strong enough”, “Even though I’m weak”). After a round or two, I had him make the statement again to see how true it felt. As is typical, his negative beliefs now felt less true.

I then had him identify a positive polar opposite belief (eg. In this case “I am strong”), and we applied the new emotional techniques on this. We then interchangeably focused on both positive and negative belief statements. As Pat Carrington outlined in a recent post this can be a powerful means of sorting out belief challenges. The reality for most people is that the negative and positive beliefs are both true and not true at the same time IN THEIR BODY. That is, they both FEEL true to some extent. Working on both sides eliminates the negative emotions attached to them, usually making the negative belief feel less true and the positive feel more true – or the client can then see how the positive belief either is becoming, or can become, more true. Sometimes the negative belief is accurate (eg. “I am an average golfer”). We do not take this and make it untrue. What we do is take the negative sting out of it, the bit where we get down on ourselves about it. It also loosens its hold, so that we no longer see it as a permanent reality.

Next, I sought to identify significant emotional events behind the business owner’s negative beliefs. To do this, I asked him to identify where he learned his negative beliefs and we searched for early significant experiences to apply these emotional tools on.

I like Robert Cialdini’s model (described in his book Influence) of beliefs as like tabletops with legs. The legs are provided by our past (reference) experiences. Some of the legs are big and fat and have roots! Knock these out and the tabletop isn’t so stable, the belief is no longer so solid or firmly held. Knock enough of the key legs out and the entire tabletop isn’t supported anymore. They can let it go. We identified some experiences for this gentleman in sports where he had not succeeded as well as he would have liked. Each was treated successfully using Gary’s “run the movie” technique. He was then ready for some heavy duty goal setting – without the blocks.


Once we had cleared the business owner’s belief barriers to moving forward, I then took him through a goal setting process. This began with a free writing “splurge” where I encouraged him to explore all possibilities including ridiculous ones. *Especially* ridiculous ones. I like to encourage my clients to consider goals that are way beyond their present level of development. I want to see if they have a sleeping vision in their heart. They usually do.

I’m primarily interested in big goals because big goals not only inspire us, they also challenge us to confront our deepest doubts and fears and limiting beliefs. The act of setting a big goal brings these right to the surface. And there is great pleasure in removing the blocks and getting back in touch with your true purpose.

The second stage of goal setting (the way I practice it) is that of setting deadlines for your goals. This increases the heat because as soon as you set a deadline you are making a commitment. Many people are reluctant to set a deadline because then they experience pressure. I love to have people create that pressure then treat it. This is truly extending your limits, blowing out your comfort zone. It is wonderful to see someone take their goal from the quality of just wishing and hoping to taking the first step towards making it real by saying when they will achieve it by. Until you can say when it is difficult to start planning, and there is always part of you holding back. As soon as you can say when, you have an idea of how much will be required of you at each step along the way. Your goal can be broken down into realistic, achievable stages. This is the stage for realism and planning.

The third stage is to prioritise your goals. Decide which are the most important to you now. As with the business owner, I ask my clients to indicate which are their four most important goals for this year. He set goals for expanding his business, overcoming a particular block in his sport and handling the transition to parenthood.

The next step is to commit to achieving to your goals. I had the business owner cement his commitment by writing each of his main goals down as an “I will…”. There is a huge difference between saying “I’d like” or “I want to” or even “I aim to” versus saying “I will”. Many many people get hung up on this point. All the objections come up. Our doubt in our own abilities comes rushing in. And all of these things can be tapped on.

Take one of your goals, set a date for its achievement and write the goal down as a statement of definite intention beginning with the words “I will…”. I guarantee if your goal is a big one you will be met with a surge of doubt accompanied by a surge of excitement. If not, then maybe the goal is not for you. Maybe it is not big enough. Maybe it is not something you really want. If it is, energy arrives with the decision. This is where you take possession of your power. This is where you decide to live your life in your own way. This is where you test yourself. It’s also where you encounter the most resistance. It is imperative at this point to identify all sources of resistance and treat them. This is where you become free to create the future.

We did this for the business owner once he had identified his goals. Each of his goals brought up some anxiety about heading into uncharted waters. Once we dealt with these fears, he started to become excited about the possibilities. His doubt was replaced by a new resolve, a solid feeling of confidence in his abilities. I call this state “100% YES!” Another word for it is congruency. I think it is the ultimate aim of all goal setting, coaching and therapy.

What was the overall outcome of this process? He was able to identify an area of growth for his business and embrace the opportunity if offered without experiencing any further internal blocks to taking action. He became more ready, willing and able to take on the challenge of parenting. He began to enjoy his sport more and achieved greater success, winning some key matches. And his business began to expand.

When I spoke to his wife a couple of months later she remarked at how strongly focused he had now become. This had allowed her to relax and direct her energies towards nurturing their child and they were clearly much happier as a result. I saw them recently. They are happily settled into parenting and happy with the direction their business has taken.

What has been the long-term result in their business? They have expanded and added a new centre to their two existing centres. I was in one of them a couple of weeks ago. It is very busy.

What Makes People and Businesses Succeed (Part 1)

Want to achieve something great? Want to create a successful business or build a peak performing team? Read on…

Over the past 30 years I have been studying what makes people and businesses succeed when most do not. I’ve identified some key factors I believe are responsible for peak performance and success in business, and in this series I’d like to share some of them with you.

We knew you could achieve success!

Of all the success factors, nothing is more important than the power to decide. Successful businesses don’t come about by chance. Usually they end up that way because somebody decided they would. That original, compelling vision that inspires dozens, hundreds, even thousands of people to work together towards its achievement. That is the starting point.

Decide to be great

When I was a teenager I was inspired by Barry Cable, an Australian Rules football champion. In a television documentary I watched at the time, Cable was asked how he had managed to achieve so much in his football career. His answer was candid and to the point, “When I was 15 years old I decided to become a football champion.” He went on to say that he hadn’t decided that he would “try his best” or do “as well as he could”, he decided to become a champion. That is why he went on to achieve at the highest level. In the years since, I’ve found that answer to be the same for champion teams in sports and business as much as for individuals.

Have you decided to be a champion, or are you just aiming to do “the best you can”? Have you decided to create a peak performing business, or are you just going to “see how we go”? If your answer is the latter, I wish you luck, because you’ll need plenty of it. Peak performers, by comparison, make their own luck, and usually find it in ample quantities, because the universe and the business world alike respond to definiteness of purpose and clarity of vision.

Clarify your success vision

In the Bible it says, “Without a vision, the people perish.” It’s the same for you and your business. Without a compelling vision to aim towards there is nothing to inspire action, nothing to focus towards, and nothing by which to measure ultimate success.

Clarity of vision and decision-making is power. The decision to create a peak performing business or champion team inspires people to want to do better. Conversely, people are de-motivated by unclear goals, hazy visions, and half-baked plans. Nobody is motivated by the prospect of doing “just ok”. They want to believe they are part of something great and doing something worthwhile.

Lee Iacocca, considered by many to be one of the great business leaders said it like this:

“If a person’s going to do a great job, he’s got to like coming to work. He’s got to say to himself: I’m going to help produce something great today, and he’s got to say that every day.”

The process of becoming a peak performer thus starts with your decisions and especially your vision. Only when you get in touch with an inspiring vision will things start to happen in your business and your life.

Break through the BS barrier

Translating your vision into reality will require you to break through the barrier of your limiting BS. That is, your limiting Belief Systems! Your current and future performance has more to do with your beliefs about what is possible for you and your business than it does with your actual potential.

The challenge is that many of the beliefs that hold people back are invisible to those who hold them. Like water to the fish you are too close to it, immersed in it. That’s why expert coaches and consultants like me will always be needed – we can see what you can’t see, and often very quickly and clearly. Within 60 minutes of entering a business and talking to key personnel I can usually diagnose the key limitations of their internal BS. Breaking through that limiting BS then becomes a key focus of my intervention.

Perform an identity check

The strongest BS holding most people and businesses back is their identity. Your identity is how you see yourself and define yourself, how you (and your people) see your business, and what you (and they) believe it can and can’t become.

“The strongest force in the human personality is our need to remain consistent with how we have defined ourselves.” – Robert Cialdini, Influence

When you change your identity you can create radical shifts in your performance. Left as it is you risk being forever stuck in the box of your limiting thinking. (See my previous article on changing your identity here)

Even businesses that are doing well can become stuck if they fail to see how they can do better. Just because you have something that works doesn’t mean it can’t be improved. Just because you have a good business doesn’t mean it can’t be a great business.

The phenomenon of the comfort zone is commonly seen in sport, where individuals and teams tend to perform at the level they see themselves. You need to realise that this same process is operating in your business right now, influencing (and limiting) the performance of everyone on your team.

Take time to assess what you and your people believe about your business. Then decide what you want to believe instead and set about growing into that new identity. This review and renewal process could be “just what the doctor ordered” to take your business from dis-ease to vibrant health.

In the next article in this series, we’ll look at how resistance to change is inevitable and how you can overcome that resistance and succeed.

Related Quotes:

“Always bear in mind that your own resolution to succeed is more important than any other one thing.” – Abraham Lincoln

“The only thing worse than being blind is having sight but no vision.” – Helen Keller

“If you are working on something exciting that you really care about, you don’t have to be pushed. The vision pulls you.” – Steve Jobs

“Vision without action is merely a dream. Action without vision just passes the time. Vision with action can change the world.” – Joel A. Barker

“I want to change things. I want to see things happen. I don’t want to just talk about them.” – John R. Noe

How to Overcome the Biggest Block to Peak Performance

In my work with peak performers in business and sports I’ve found there is one fundamental block which holds most people back from achieving the results they desire. That block is identity.

Your identity consists of your beliefs about who you are and what you are capable of. A business, organisation, or team also develops an identity and it is this which both drives and simultaneously limits organisational performance.

I’ve found the prophetic words of Zig Ziglar to be true both for individuals and teams: “You’ll never perform consistently in a manner which is inconsistent with how you see yourself.”

This is why changing your identity is one of the most powerful ways to change your results in business and life.

Your identity simultaneously empowers you to do what you do and limits you in terms of what you will do – and how well you can do it. It narrows down the awesome entirety of you to a very thin range of possibilities. It “thin slices” your performance thr

ough a tiny window of potential, and while opening you up to some opportunities, ultimately cuts off more than it allows.

Your identity is like a “box” which is holding you in. As long as this box stays in place your potential will be limited – more by your own beliefs than any limits that exist in “reality”.

Expanding and ultimately breaking free from the identity box is your pathway to real freedom and massively enhanced results.

This applies to groups and businesses as much as it does to individuals. To succeed ultimately you must break free of your limiting beliefs about what is possible for you and what is possible for your business.

Pitching the ball; baseball player For example, some years ago I had the opportunity to work with our professional baseball team, Perth Heat. At an initial meeting with key members of management and head coaches I asked them to describe the challenges they faced and what they needed in the way of assistance in peak performance development. I still vividly recall the words of the first person who spoke: “We’re chokers!” I inquired what he meant. “We are the winningest team in the league, we can win all the games in the regular season but we always choke in the finals!” “Yes”, said someone else, “We’re known across the league as “the chokers”.”

I enquired further about this and it turned out they had made the finals 5 years in a row and in every one of those 5 years they had “choked” in the finals and not managed to go on and win a championship. I listened and asked a few more questions then, when I heard someone use the term “chokers” for the third time, I spoke up, “Stop!” I said emphatically, “I’ve diagnosed your problem!” They all turned and looked at me curiously. I continued, “You are telling me that you can win all the games in the regular season but you always choke in the finals, is that correct? They nodded, yes. “Then what do you think you are going to do this season if you “always choke in the finals”? You’re going to choke! I suggest you don’t do that anymore! Yes you choked in the finals last year and the year before and all those other times but this year you are a different team. Why not decide that this year you are going to win the championship? Why not decide that this year you are going to be the championship team?”

I looked around the group who were all staring back at me in stunned silence. Then one of the managers spoke up: “Yeah, why don’t we do that!” The group nodded and smiled in emphatic agreement.

My position as the team’s new peak performance consultant was instantly assured and as history will show they went on and won the championship that year. Now there was a lot of hard work that followed that decision (including if I might trumpet my own work, some great peak performance sessions presented by yours truly!!), but it all started with that first basic decision to embrace a new identity and no longer be tied to the old one.

There are many tools to assist you in changing your identity and the services of a good consultant or coach will almost certainly be required. But the starting point is always the same:

First, get clear on your current identity and how it is serving you and how it is limiting you. Next, decide what you want to be and become instead. Commit to becoming that, starting right now. Follow up with action to demonstrate your commitment. Build momentum and persist.

You have to let go of the old in order to embrace the new. Your new identity lies waiting inside you now, inside your company, inside your team, inside your family, just waiting for the chance to rise up and become real. So decide right now what you will be from now on, then start right away to be and become that. There is no faster way to better results.

Need help to get there? Here’s three ways I can help:

  1. I may have new places coming available in my exclusive personal coaching program. Work exclusively with me face to face or via skype to achieve your personal and business goals faster than ever before.
  2. Business Breakthrough: An empowering workshop for those who want to build or grow a business with a success identity.
  3. Consider getting me in to your company to work with you and your senior leaders and create the catalyst to change your results dramatically for the better.

Make contact and let’s discuss how you can get from where you are to where you want to be:

Call us on +61 (0)8 9271 9271

Use this contact form to send us a message


Peak Performance and Success

Every leader, every manager and every businessperson knows that the greatest barriers to their achievement and success are not out there in the world, but inside them. Fear of failure, fear of rejection, fear of self promotion, fear of success – these are the things that hold most people back from really going for it and taking massive action on their dreams. If you want to move up to the next level of success you need to overcome your limiting ways of thinking about what is possible for you – and your business. This program will show you how.

“Peak Performance is not about victory over others – it’s about tapping into your personal power and reaching the greatest heights possible for you. In an organisational sense it’s about visionary leadership:  Creating an ideal (the “best possible organization”) and deciding to make it real. It’s about moving your personal and organisational results to the next level – building the vision and implementing strategies to realise the vision.  It’s about making a mark and leaving a legacy.”  – Steve Wells

This unique workshop will equip you with powerful skills and strategies that will enable you to produce a quantum leap in performance and empower you to realise your personal and corporate vision.

Note: This highly interactive workshop is designed for action-oriented business achievers, not passive observers. It is not a rah-rah motivational session (even though it will be highly motivating). You’ll learn practical, useable strategies you can apply immediately to produce a measurable shift in your results.

The benefits you will personally experience when you attend this program and put these techniques into action:

  • A measurable increase in personal power
  • A sustainable improvement in performance and productivity
  • The ability to leverage your personal and corporate results
  • Greater resilience in the face of stress

The benefits your company will experience when key managers attend this program and apply these techniques in your workplace:

  • An injection of energy and inspiration into the company.
  • An improvement in productivity and overall performance levels.
  • A boost to morale and a reduction in stress throughout the company.

Achieving the Vision: The New Psychology of Peak Performance

A unique approach to peak corporate performance based in the latest findings of psychology combined with enduring principles of success.

Workshop Content:

In this 2-day Elite Peak Performance Workshop for Business Achievers You’ll Learn:

  • Integrity and Values-based success systems using the latest developments in psychology combined with proven strategies for success.
  • Revolutionary techniques from the new field of Energy Psychology, and how you can apply them to break through the mental and emotional barriers holding you back.
  • Powerful new mind-body strategies that will allow you to access your personal power on a consistent basis.
  • Unique state management strategies that you can apply to gain freedom from negative emotions, overcome emotional blocks to performance, and tap into your peak performance states on a daily basis.
  • How you can become a true peak performer – and inspire others to do the same!

Break through the barriers to peak performance and experience a new level of success.

What previous participants of Steve Wells’s programs have said:

“Working with Steve Wells I found the mental edge that raises an athlete from average to elite.”

– Pat Ahearne, Australian Baseball League Pitcher of the Year, now pitching pro ball in USA

“I have listened to over 50 speakers and rarely have I seen anyone have such an impact on an audience.”

– Brenda Mitchell, (former) Manager, Public Sector Development (WA)

“Straight to the point and the process to make you achieve your best… Great examples, great process, best of all so simple.”

– Guy McKenna, (former West Coast Eagles AFL player and assistant coach)

“Thought provoking and extremely interesting.  Steve Wells is an unusually clever speaker.”

– Gary Holdsworthy, WA State Manager, Commonwealth Bank

The Presenter

Steve Wells is an internationally recognised professional speaker, psychologist, and peak performance consultant. He consults and presents worldwide with elite corporate personnel and athletes who want to achieve at the highest level, and regularly conducts personal development seminars and professional training workshops throughout Australia, Europe and the USA. He is a dynamic and inspiring presenter who has achieved the Certified Speaking Professional award with the International Federation of Professional Speakers. Steve is the author of the bestseller 100% YES! The Energy of Success and co-author with Dr David Lake of 4 books including Enjoy Emotional Freedom. His presentations are filled with practical strategies you can use immediately to get better results – with less stress!

Bring Steve Wells’ Peak Performance program to your business and help your team reach the next level of success. Call our office now on +61 (0)8 9271 9271 to discuss.

Values-Based Success Systems

The values question is: What’s MOST important? True Success in business and life can only be achieved by basing your decisions, goals, and actions around your most important values.

Our coaching programs help you to clarify your values and base your goals and actions around what is most important. This can also help you to overcome the internal civil war caused by conflicts in your values, where part of you is pulling in one direction and part of you is pulling in a different direction.

In business, our programs help employers and business owners to clarify the values which they wish to drive their business, and  help to ensure that those within the business are willing to align behind the company values and vision.

If you would like to discuss how coaching with Steve Wells can help you to focus your actions around your most important values please call us on 08 9271 9271.

Values Intensive Workshop:

Steve’s Values Intensive Workshop is an intensive personal development process for identifying and aligning with your most important values. Steve also uses new techniques from the exciting new field of Energy Psychology to help you to break through the limiting beliefs that are holding you back.

You can now purchase Steve’s Values Intensive Workshop on DVD.

Find out more about this program here:

“Live” Workshop DVD Recordings