The Will to Reach Ultimate Performance

The Will to Reach Ultimate Performance

Only those who devote themselves to a cause with their whole strength and
soul can be true masters. For this reason, mastery demands all of a person.
~ Albert Einstein

man in yellow hood

I’m sure you’re aware by now that ultimate performance is not for the faint of heart; but rather for the strong of spirit and soul.

Ultimate performance and mastery are for that rare breed of individual who’s committed to their cause long beyond the need for personal comforts.

You’re never comfortable setting records,
The only time you’re comfortable is when you’re doing repeats.

person riding white horse

The commitment beyond creature comforts brings us to one of the most vital points we must explore, experience, and embrace if we ever have a chance of reaching our own ultimate performance.

That’s the topic of dealing with adversity, difficulty, and yes… sometimes even tragedy. Likewise the subsequent development of the will.

Show me a hero and I’ll write you a tragedy.
~ F. Scott Fitzgerald

knight wearing armor

I conducted a live event several years ago in Phoenix and I recognized a reporter in the audience who’d been especially heinous and brutal to me during the tragic events post 2009.

During the live question and answer period (what I call “Open Frame”), he raised his hand. I must admit… I was a bit hesitant to recognize him given his previous history and writings.

James, after all you’ve been through…

Why did you choose to come back to the same industry?

The answer was clear, concise, and self-evident in my mind. I answered with no hesitation, “Very simply Matt, three words.” I paused for emphasis; and continued holding up three fingers, “Clarity. Of. Purpose.”

I waited to allow that to sink in and then continued, “You see when you know clearly and completely why you’re here; and what you’re here to do; you don’t quit. Even though in many ways quitting may seem much easier to do.”

Fitzgerald’s words above ring very true for me. Even a cursory review of history will reinforce this statement as truth.

Likewise, the same cursory review of mythology will tell us that all great heroes not only faced great trials but were required to overcome them and transcend them as a rite of passage. In fact, great trials and great tragedies create great heroes.

No one has studied and documented this heroic phenomenon more clearly than Joseph Campbell. (The Hero with a Thousand Faces)

Great trials and great tragedies are what create great heroes.

gray mini figure under a shoe

A well-positioned and well-timed crisis or adversity, while extremely uncomfortable, will do more to strengthen your spirit and your resolve than year upon year of success and comfort.

A tragedy will do more to remind you of the value of life; and what’s truly important, than most anything else you could ever experience.

A tragedy and crisis strengthen the will; if you’ll only allow it to be that type of catalyst.


The peeling away effect of a tragedy reminds us of the impermanence of all physical life. Besides strengthening our will and resolve, it also gives us an additional ability which contributes to our own ultimate performance.

It gives the ability that psychology terms “situational awareness.”

Situational awareness is exactly what the term implies. When you’ve been in and through a situation you have the awareness of that situation as well as like similar situations. Therefore you have greater capacity and ability to deal with similar situations moving forward. Do you follow?

Don’t wish for an easier life, that’s illusion.
Wish for greater capacity and capability
to get through the challenges life brings.

man in tears

Bottom line, you can’t know how to deal with a situation that you’ve never dealt with previously. The situational awareness of greater challenges gives you greater capacity and capabilities. Do you follow? It builds your resolve, your commitment, and your will.

It never ceases to amaze me how many so-called coaches and consultants there are these days with no results besides a business card and/or a certification.

ultimate performance-james-arthur-rayIdeas and dreams are a dime a dozen. But experience trumps all.

If you choose to pursue your own ultimate performance it makes sense to me that, minus your own personal experience, you would choose to work with, as well as model, someone who has been where you choose to go. 

Developmental psychologists tell us that there are numerous lines of abilities that we have within each of us. While there’s some controversy as to how many specific lines there are, most agree upon at least seven primary abilities.

It’s not the purpose of this discussion to explore all of those abilities or lines, but one that all agree is incredibly important—in fact critical—is the ability of the Will.

Willpower is not just dogged determination to fight forward.
True use of will is the ability to maintain focus and faith
when all hope seems lost.

man in black shirt and white shorts exercise

If you’re going to develop your own UHP then you’ll only do so with will. The fact is that most have very poor willpower muscles; and once again nothing tests your true will like a tragedy.

One man’s tragedy is another’s triumph
It is all dependent upon the will to continue;
and the willingness to find the gift.

man leaning on wall

Going back to the reporters’ question above, I continued forward yes because of clarity of purpose; and also because of a developed will.

 Find answerws to questions like “What’s my purpose?” or “What’s the purpose of life?” in this article.

The will is only developed when exercised against struggle and resistance. Please read that again.

I’ve had plenty struggle and resistance in my life.

How about you?

I realize very definitively that the crisis that I’ve faced throughout my life gives me the situational awareness to be a better coach, mentor, and teacher than I ever have been previously. 

Crisis gives us the ability if we’ll only seize it, to be examples of possibility to the world.

  • Michael Jordan through his commitment and will practice harder and longer after being cut from the varsity team…
  • Danny Way jumped the Great Wall of China on a skateboard while standing on a shattered ankle…
  • Martha Stewart is as big now if not bigger, than before she went to prison…
  • Robert Downey Jr. is now one of the biggest actors in the world after a drug problem and prison, and he’s also Ironman! (need I say more?)…Tony Hsieh

Every entrepreneur goes through struggles and failure. It doesn’t mean you’re a failure it’s just part of the natural path you must take to get where you’re going.
~ Tony Hsieh

If you think you’re going to reach your own Ultimate Performance in some easy and fast-track way… please think again. You must develop the will to perform.

You must develop your focus like a white-hot bead and must be willing to do what it takes…

Willing to pay the price for the prize.

If you want to develop a bigger bicep, you have to do more reps and lift more weight over time. You have to curl and sweat and burn again and again.

You have to learn to actually love the sweat and burn.

Is there a metaphor here? Yes, I think there is!

The ancients tell us “As above, so below.” As in one realm so in another. As in the gym, so in business and so in life.

Arnold Schwarzenegger writes in his book Education of a Bodybuilder that with each repetition of a bicep curl, he visualized his bicep as a mountain peak. 

I think it worked.

But visualization, while important, may get you somewhere in your mind, but by itself it will get you nowhere in the world. Visualization without the curls is mere fantasy; and contains no true will.

If you sit around in your living room visualizing every day
they’ll come take your furniture away.

You have to do the work.

You have to put in the time.

Ericsson’s ten thousands hours are just a warm up. 

Like Einstein so wisely stated, only those who give themselves with their whole strength and soul can develop mastery.

Do you have the will do to this?

Are you willing to develop it?

Be a Leader. Live Your Purpose; and Take Your Power Back!




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