Habits to Excel


Confession: When I wrote the title, I did a spell check to make sure the word meant what I thought it meant.  I play with Microsoft Excel so much every day I never actually use the term for its regular use.

I read High-Performance Habits: How Extraordinary People Become that Way by Brendon Burchard on the recommendation of the same friend who recommended Captivate.


Twenty years ago, author Brendon Burchard became obsessed with answering three questions: Why do some individuals and teams succeed more quickly than others and sustain that success over the long term? Of those who pull it off, why are some miserable and others consistently happy on their journey? What motivates people to reach for higher levels of success in the first place, and what practices help them improve the most?

After extensive original research and a decade as the world’s leading high performance coach, Burchard found the answers. It turns out that just six deliberate habits give you the edge. Anyone can practice these habits and, when they do, extraordinary things happen in their lives, relationships, and careers.

Which habits can help you achieve long-term success and vibrant well-being no matter your age, career, strengths, or personality? To become a high performer, you must seek clarity, generate energy, raise necessity, increase productivity, develop influence, and demonstrate courage. This book is about the art and science of how to cultivate and practice these proven habits.

Whether you want to get more done, lead others better, develop skill faster, or dramatically increase your sense of joy and confidence, the habits in this book will help you achieve it faster. Each of the six habits is illustrated by powerful vignettes, cutting-edge science, thought-provoking exercises, and real-world daily practices you can implement right now.

If you’ve ever wanted a science-backed, heart-centered plan to living a better quality of life, it’s in your hands. Best of all, you can measure your progress. A link to a free professional assessment is included in the book.

This book was an enjoyable read, and with less fluff than some of the books of the same type.  I liked how it was organized, and I highlighted a lot more passages than usual.  As it states in summary, he identifies these six habits for increasing performance:

  • Seek Clarity
  • Generate Energy
  • Raise Neccessity
  • Increase Productivity
  • Develop Influence
  • Demonstrate Courage

My favorite chapter was the first one, on seeking clarity.  It could be I enjoyed this one most because it was my high score when I took the free assessment.  It seems I’m doing okay in that area.  It still held many practical steps I can take to improve, some of which I’ve already started to implement.

I was less excited about raising necessity and developing influence, which also happen to correlate to my low scores.  There are a lot of tips in the book on how to improve these areas, but the problem is I don’t care enough to pursue them.  And I think that is ultimately the one flaw of this book – it appears to assume you want to do ALL THE THINGS.  I don’t mean do all the things in life, just the things in the book.  It is clear you can’t do everything, but also seems to promote doing more steps in the book.

I’ve tended to see diminishing returns in my own life when I start attempting to do ALL THE THINGS.  Perhaps some people would find more success.  It seems the author has.  I think a critical factor is knowing when you’re happy with your performance, and then maybe playing Zelda instead of adding more.

So why am I reviewing this book here and recommending you read it?  Because there is a plethora of practical advice and a lot of things to think about.  While I didn’t wholeheartedly agree with some aspects of the book, I’ve been thinking about it all week.  The process of identifying what I do and don’t agree with, as well as why, is educational on its own.  Nobody is going to test you in a month to see if you’ve implemented everything so you can pick and choose what you’d like to work on out of the many excellent ideas.  I’ve already had good success implementing just one of the tips.

I think it is particularly valuable to writers, as it seems we are prone to many distractions that keep us from our goals.  Or perhaps we haven’t even set goals.  Most of what I highlighted was tied to my writing in my head as I read the book.  I’m looking forward to implementing more of the ideas shortly.

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