The Wilderness and Peak Performance

Written by Ali Calladine, August 31st, 2017

Suze is on the final day of the wilderness explore, and it has us all thinking about the impact of the wilderness on thriving in business. Here are her reflections from last year, which are especially relevant as we move past labour day into the swing of the fall markets. 

Peak Performance is the extraordinary nature of an individual obtaining a state of optimal functioning.  The term peak performance originally comes from the culture of world class athletes but recent research has shown that the mental state required to obtain peak performance is virtually the same whether one is pursuing physical, intellectual or creative objectives.

Peak performance is that state of being when you can accomplish an amazing amount of super high-quality work, when you are totally present and connected with your clients, when you feel that you are totally in flow, in your element – that you are firing on all cylinders.

It’s an awesome place to be and I am committed to understanding it more thoroughly.

16.09.08 Wilderness and Peak Performance

I have always known that the wilderness, the natural world and our need for adventurous experiences fueled our access to peak performance through my own personal life. I recently found a whole field of research that backs this up called Attention Restoration Theory.  This was the brain child of Rachel and Stephen Kaplan back in the 1980’s but recent research has added to the pot of knowledge.

Here is the Cole’s notes version:

We create an environment where Peak Performance can occur when we have full access to both DIRECTED ATTENTION and INTUITIVE ATTENTION.

Directed Attention is the directed, deliberate thinking that we do most of the time and it involves knowledge, skill, learning, strategy and all things conscious.  It is critical for high-level performance but it takes focus, managing emotions, avoiding distractions and is often uncomfortable.  It is also known as top-down thinking.  It is what we do much of the time but it is very susceptible to directed attention fatigue.  This presents in many ways but often it is burn out, tuning out, anxiety, distraction, avoidance and worse.

Intuitive Attention is involuntary, effortless and is often responsible for brilliant out of the blue discoveries.  It requires that we already have a high level of knowledge and that we have enough open space in our brain to allow it to surface.  This intuitive attention is often obscured by the stress, business and distraction of modern life.

16.09.08 Wilderness and Peak Performance2And so, the wilderness may give us higher access to both of these sources of attention and allow us access to Peak Performance on a much more frequent basis.

Sunday, I have a small and very remarkable group of REALTORS® joining me in the backcountry near Whistler British Columbia to see if we can create the ideal environment for each of them to obtain greater access to Peak Performance.

Stay tuned for reflections, pictures and accounts of our outcomes.

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