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Getting Helped vs. Being Optimized – A Human Performance Expert’s Take On Developing Today’s Leaders

Leadership Development expert and founder of Radical Performance Acceleration Wylie McGraw unpacks why leaders and high achievers are wasting their life chasing peak performance – instead of mastering it.

Performance isn’t something that can be defined by compartmentalized thinking—it’s not about how much you can innovate, execute, or accumulate. It has little to do with your ability to stay on track to complete tasks (that’s actual achievement). It cannot simply be limited to society’s quantifiable definitions.

Most coaches, consultants, and mentors sell the notion that if you follow their steps from “A to Z,” you can and will achieve peak performance. Peak performance is the truest measure of who you are in relation to yourself, and not what’s sought in the external. It’s a constant act of self-discovery and not achieved at the end of a straight line, as many leaders and influencers have been led to believe.

To achieve peak performance, you must be willing to go beyond your “comfort zone,” break repetitive patterns, and cultivate new levels of attentiveness and awareness. 

This kind of performance is often elusive, yet still attainable with the right type of support, and by fully understanding the truth of peak performance itself: Your success does not determine your level of performance. Your peak performance defines the limits of your success.

Ultimately, a thoroughbred horse can run in a race, but can it run the fastest and win every time? If someone sticks with programs and performance-enhancing regimens designed to help and not optimize, then that’s what they’ll remain: racehorses that just run fast.

The Optimization Formula 

For leaders to access their maximum potential, they must go beyond traditional helping systems. They must achieve self-actualization and put themselves through experiences that radically evolve them into their best. 

Barriers to entry are low so that everyone can participate. But for leaders looking to exceed their “limits,” there are higher standards and specific character traits required for this to be possible.

Some of the most fundamental requirements in mindset and attitude are the abilities to: 

Abandoning process thinking 

Resisting the need to know how 

Giving up control 

Welcoming necessary suffering 

Finding comfort in ambiguity 

Resisting over-consumption

Facing hard truths 

Releasing harboring beliefs 

Mastering stillness 

Relying on intuition

Operating through these key fundamentals will produce newfound innovation and success. It’s imperative to evolve one’s mindset through consistent challenges. Elements of surprise allow authentic reactions and clarity about untapped potential, whereas knowing what’s coming shuts all of this down. 

The only way to reach and sustain peak performance is by removing stresses and blind spots as they occupy critical conscious and unconscious mind space. Most leaders have consumed far more than they have eliminated, clouding the most potential-laden parts of themselves. When it comes to peak performance, removal matters more than addition. 

Additionally, leaders must become present with themselves to know what they truly want to accomplish. Optimizing performance stops when they avoid personal truths. 

How can anyone be the best version of themselves if they don’t truly understand themselves?

The Framework 

Military Special Operations, Olympic and Professional Athletics, Special Government Agencies, and the like are all prime examples of environments that elicit peak performance in and from their members. There is a fundamental framework within each of these industries that demands a more dynamic and holistic approach to how individuals access their power and potential. 

Simply put, they are submerged into environments that radically challenge them, discovering their mental and emotional limits. Their purpose, their missions, and those that rely on them depend on their ability to perform flawlessly and succeed consistently. And that allows these institutions to separate peak performers from the others. 

It shows that challenge is imperative to rise to the top. Leaders outside of these fields also need this type of framework to achieve high levels of success. But unfortunately, most options available to them are from the helping systems—they’re not being challenged in the manner that matches their capacity to perform. 

Below are the six necessary elements to any successful optimizing framework: 

#1 Highly Personalized 

Anything designed for leaders to maximize their potential must be uniquely personalized for them. This means the client’s life experiences and relationships determine the direction and how the optimizer does their work. Other resources base their dynamic with the client on their tactics first and wind up creating a reliance on coaching to maintain momentum. 

#2 Intimate Environment 

The most impactful relationships are the most intimate. When intimacy is present, vulnerability results. Through this vulnerability, one will experience an unencumbered truth about who they are, and it then becomes difficult to hide the blind spots that stifle performance. 

Optimizing someone requires an interpersonal relationship with them, working closely together. The military is an example of how intimate and intense a dynamic must be to produce high-level results. 

Consider boot camp. The recruit undergoes rigorous physical training and exhaustive mental stress. But they do so with the support of instructors (who teach) and other recruits (who assist). It cannot be done without these two elements. This goes on for months. The constant training and cooperation rebuild the civilian into a soldier.

#3 Holistic and Dynamic 

The approach required to unleash high achievers and leaders must be holistic and dynamic, not linear, or hyper-focused on systematic problem-solving. The client’s life needs to be transparent. No aspect of it is off-limits. 

#4 Compressed Time-Frame 

Structured parameters bring forth more creative and innovative capabilities of those within them. They make people push harder to produce more with limited time. Compressing a leader inside a specific time frame takes this level of performance further, faster. It forces out all forms of distraction, galvanizing their rawest potential into outward action that produces real-world results. 

#5 Outside Force 

There must be an outside force to pressurize and accelerate a leader. This agent is not meant to be followed or mimicked. Instead, they purposely create new, dramatic experiences that force a leader’s most powerful, untapped potential to the surface. The challenges faced will stretch one to their limits, including the entire range of their emotions. When emotions are rattled and stretched, authenticity is exposed, and the rawest form of power and potential can be used for optimal acceleration. 

#6 Experts on Hand 

Accelerating a leader to the top of their game requires all aspects of their life to be accentuated. A network of specialists on hand working in tandem with a primary agent ensures the balanced and proper development of peak performance capability.

What are the Results of Optimization for Leaders?

They exist in a place of power, productivity, satisfaction, and experience daily what professional athletes call “being in the zone.” 

They wake up each day as an unstoppable force. 

They’re fulfilled and free to take on anything they choose to put their focus on. 

They experience peak mental fortitude, increased wealth, and more internal peace. 

They have eliminated the negative compromises of reaching higher levels of success like poor health and stressed relationships. 

They elegantly and actively face challenges that are surprising or disruptive.

All of this combined gives you a glimpse of what optimization entails and how it transcends conventional helping practices. 

If you’re a leader who’s willing to do what you’ve never done before to achieve unfathomable results, then you’re ready to leave the crutches of “helping” behind and are poised to be optimized.

Wylie McGraw, Founder of Radical Performance Acceleration

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