What would it mean to operate at peak efficiency?
What is a ‘peak’?
The Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary defines a ‘peak’ firstly as a noun, a prominent mountain or hilltop, a place you can physically plant your feet. The definition goes on to describe a ‘peak’ as a verb, to reach a maximum capacity or value of something. Finally, a ‘peak’ is defined as an adjective, being at or reaching the superlative level or performance output.
There are a lot of ways you can formulate what a peak is, with each of these parts of speech presenting their own perception into how a peak can be established. The unique aspect of looking at a word this way is in the English Language’s subtle habit of mirroring humanity. Personally, when I conceive the word ‘peak’ in my mind, I run it through my head as a verb–as something that I can achieve, something that is obtainable, or a skill that is capable of being honed. I see a list of goals that can be checked off in order to perform at my ‘peak’. The word, simply put, has a lot of action associated with it, a lot of doing.
This is even apparent in the way I write, and by the transitive property, the way I think. For example, in the paragraph above, I have just noticed while writing this that I used “I conceive”, “I run”, “I see”. All of these phrases were used in conjunction with some sort of mental function–I could have just as easily said, “I think”, “I ponder”, or “I visualize”, but that’s not how my inner monologue processes things–it wants to implement some kind of action. It would seem that I need some sort of action paired with a mental process in order make what’s in my brain a reality. Could this be a clue into how I can manipulate my mind and body into a unified ‘peak’?
Everyone’s mind is similar in that it is pink and meaty, and all the major brain-centers are (usually) in the same place from brain-to-brain. That’s where the similarities seem to stop and the beautiful differences start to flow. If a mind perceives a thing (idea, object, etc.) using particular parts of speech with a certain consistency, wouldn’t it stand to reason that subtle amplifications or changes to the language the mind automatically employs could result in a substantial shift in perception? And if this perception is the root of all experience, and learned experiences build proficiencies, then as a result, a person’s ‘peak performance in X’ is more readily able to be reached. Keeping in mind that X can literally be anything.
A quick summation of peak performance would come down to practice, practice, and more practice. While this is inarguably true, I would put forward that peak performance stems first from an individual’s thought patterns, their mental habits, and most importantly, the way they talk to themselves when they aren’t thinking about it. Are we to believe that someone who professionally strives for peak performance, and maintains that state, is wasting any time being self-destructive? Not self-critical, these are different. ‘Self-destructive’ implies a far more sinister intention.
The goal then, would be to discover how your mind thinks. What specific words do you use when you are thinking about something you love? Are there any that reoccur under the same umbrella theme? Are you thinking in nouns–places you’ve been, people you’ve seen, or are you thinking in verbs–what you did while you visited somewhere, what you said when you hurt someone, what you felt when you accomplished something. It seems to me that cluing in on how your brain thinks might allow you the opportunity to adjust your behavior to match the words you choose for a more effective outcome–a peak.
What is efficiency?
Once again, Merriam-Webster comes to the rescue. To be efficient is to be capable of producing desired results with little or no waste, or being or involving the immediate agent in producing an effect. The first part that jumps out at me is little or no waste. And this forces me to clarify my question: in what way am I striving for efficiency? My initial question was in reference to an intellectual space–what would it mean to operate at peak mental efficiency for you personally? Once I again, I clarify further–a necessary measure. Because of the overflowing differences from one individual to the next, as we discussed earlier, everyone will have varying points of peak mental efficacy.
What does it mean to have mental waste? Could it be unwarranted stress, useless worrying, the toying with impossible desires? Surely allowing your mind to wander and daydream within reason isn’t a waste, there is value in putting air between your thoughts. This waste must come in the form of time spent–not dormant memories or stored experiences–but actual time spent on negative thoughts, emotions, beliefs, and convictions that eat away at your psyche. Nothing I create is original. They don’t want to hear what I have to say. My idea’s aren’t good enough to make it.
So by this measure, the answer, in part, is to trim the time spent on worthless convictions. The more time you spend not thinking about how bad you are at something is the more time you spend getting better at said thing, and in doing so, becoming more mentally efficient. The formula for efficiency seems like some boring platitude that should be a no-brainer. Which it is, in the same way a new engine should have no problems running. But a new engine will still eventually need an oil change, the same way your brain needs positive-self-awareness to stay healthy and efficient.
What is peak efficiency?
We know that to reach a peak, we have to look at the way we talk to ourselves–what words we are specifically using to energize our role in maximizing performance. We know that mental efficiency comes from trimming wasted time spent on harmful convictions. What does it look like when we combine these two pieces of the puzzle?
Striving for the peak runs the same river as increasing efficiency. As we learn to hot-swap new energetic words into our inner monologues, we might find that we’ll grow a little by accident. We might find that we, ourselves, are extraordinary–and really believe it. And when we see that in ourselves, we’ll shred the fatty-time we used to spend wallowing in self-pity, and we’ll accidently grow a little more.