Everyone is looking for high performance but no one seems to know definitively what it is or, perhaps most importantly, how to achieve it consistently.

Having worked with over 3000 elite sports stars, athletes and business people over 21 years I felt sure that if we looked hard enough we would find a psychological profile or a set of characteristics, behavioural strategies and personality traits that underpin top-flight performance in any domain.

My thinking was that if I were able to unravel the performance DNA of individuals who excel far beyond their peers, the rest of us would know the recipe for high performance and would be better able to emulate their success. I was so sure that there was something different about these individuals that I started to collect detailed psychological profiles with a view to analysing them so I could identify the key elements of their success. Only, that independent research indicated no formula. There were no statistically significant correlations that marked certain traits as must-have characteristics or processes for achieving high performance.

At first I was quite disappointed, and my ambition to write this book started to fade. But the more I thought about it the more I realised this was good news, not bad. After all, what if the research had identified a specific high-performance recipe of personality traits and characteristics? What if the rest of us didn't have those ingredients? Were we meant to go crawl under a rock ...

Get Fit now with O’Reilly online learning.

O’Reilly members experience live online training, plus books, videos, and digital content from 200+ publishers.