The Characteristics of Excellence


As a performance coach, I am fortunate to work with some of the leading professional endurance athletes in the world as well as some of the world's most successful CEOs and executives in business.  This experience of working with both sets of highly successful professionals who also live demanding, time-starved lives, provides me with a unique perspective of elite performance in both sports and business.  Through this interesting source of learning and development as a performance coach, I  developed a clear understanding of the startling parallels among elite professional triathletes and highly successful business executives.  It is with this perspective that I comprised the ten core personal characteristics of elite performers in sport and business.


  1. Goal Orientated:  An obvious one to begin, but perspective and targets are critically important to help pave the path of development and improvement.
  2. Assessment: It goes well beyond creating goals, but the need to take a logical and non-emotional assessment of their journey toward the goals.  Perhaps the most important part of this is the willingness to adapt and evolve if they are not on track.  The dynamic mindset lives strong in high performers.
  3. Support:  Perhaps my favorite.  So many view elite performers as icons, yet the highest performers typically go on a quest to surround themselves with great support and people who can help in areas of weakness.  Seldom are the elite flying solo.
  4. Focus and Specificity:  There is never a shortage of things to think about, but the best strive to establish focus on the most critical elements.  They have an ability to ignore noise and distractions and remain action focused on the factors that help their cause.
  5. Resistance to Adversity:  With success comes obstacles, and the above focus assists in the magical skill of resilience.  Success never arrives without failure on the path, but the best performers understand this is part of the journey.
  6. Passion:  I have never seen a great performer who is singularly focused on the outcome without immense passion for the journey.
  7. Thirst for Personal Development:  The least interesting, and ultimately the less successful, are those who think they have it all worked out.  Every elite performer has a thirst and humility for development and learning.
  8. Patience:  The whole ‘Rome wasn’t built in a day’ relates to performance.  The elite seldom look for immediate and short-term results.
  9. Balanced Approach to Success and Struggle:  While celebrating the good is important, the peaks are never too high, and in balance of this, failure is seldom viewed as catastrophic. A sense of progression in homeostasis tends to rule the mindset.
  10. Recovery:  Finally, every elite performer works incredibly hard, but the most successful understand that to embrace a journey requires downtime and recovery.  It is the courage to recover that facilitates the endurance to succeed.

We could read this list and equally highlight a professional endurance athlete or a successful CEO, but this is where it gets interesting.  For the time-starved executive, they are not always skilled at applying these core characteristics to the areas of life outside of work.  In fact, when I begin to work with an executive, it often surprises me how ill-equipped they are with their athletic mindset.  Despite the characteristic parallels, some of the top performers in the business world are underperforming in fitness, health, and sport.


I help elite performers make connections between work, sport, and life; and empower them to deploy already ingrained traits into other life endeavors.  Interestingly, when we look at how society views performance globally, there is a fundamental paradigm shift occurring from the trend of viewing performance in areas of life in isolation (family, work, health, sport) toward transitioning to that of a holistically optimized person.  It is a powerful and surefire journey toward human potential in all areas of life, not just work or sport.  In fact, it is this shifting trend that was the primary catalyst for my recent book, Fast-Track Triathlete.  I saw the need to help time-starved individuals understand that adopting a true athletic mindset was not about becoming an obsessive endurance athlete but, instead, about successfully integrating a more holistic and global approach to performance in all areas of life.  This mindset facilitates best results across sport but also in health, work, and family.

The key message for all of my performance-driven executives is to adopt an athletic mindset.  For the most accomplished, this is relatively easy as these characteristics are undeniably familiar to them. Without making a big fuss, they tend to fall in line and adopt naturally occurring performance characteristics and mindset, providing massively positive influences on their health and approach to performance.  When executed successfully, many of the more obsessive and negative approaches fade as the performance promoting habits take their place.


With the launch of my new Purple Patch Podcast, the central goal is to explore human potential and help performance-driven, time-starved athletes and fitness enthusiasts thrive in not just sport but in work, health, and family.  To help pave the road to success, I will deliver a fair amount of education on the podcast.  We'll also have some fun interviewing some of the top performance-driven CEOs in the world and explore their approach to performance.  Beyond these interviews, we will also do some deep dives with real experts in all areas of performance, including sleep, nutrition, travel, and sports medicine.  The podcast's mission is to help you adopt key performance characteristics so you thrive in both sport and fitness.  Ultimately, those characteristics will be your catalyst to excel at work and live the best version of yourself in all other areas of your life, including your family and relationships.

Interestingly, this is not complex.  In fact, it is really about a mission to boil down complex concepts into basic and digestible action steps.  This is the antithesis of the blizzard of life hacks and fake promises that are currently promoted so heavily.  This is about real actions and habits you can easily implement to provide performance results in all areas of your time-starved life.

I hope you get to tune in to the podcast, but a good start is to take a good look at the above list and see which characteristics of excellence you can start integrating into your life today.

Let’s get cracking on the journey.