Sticking Your Neck Out: Discover the Top 7 Ways to Reach Your Peak Performance

by Nikki Stone

As a motivational speaker for Fortune 500 companies and an Olympic gold medalist, I have seen what makes an individual most successful in the boardroom and on the slopes. Over the last five years, I have researched the similarities of forty different highly-successful individuals—including the likes of Tommy Hilfiger, Prince Albert of Monaco, Dr. Stephen Covey, Shaun White and many more. And no matter the field or endeavor, I have found The Turtle Effect philosophy at the core of everyone's success.

This philosophy was taught to me by my mother, who told me that I could achieve anything I wanted. I always held it close and adapted it to every situation I encountered. I'd like to help people breathe in this confidence and share the secrets that are common to those at the top of their given field.

1. Have a Soft Inside—let your heart drive your actions

Find Your Passion: Do the things you hate first so you can truly get pleasure from the parts of your job and day that you are most passionate about. First thing in the morning write down five things you don't like to do. Do each before 11:00 a.m., and check off that you've done them. Doing the thing you hate most will allow you to spend the rest of the day or week focusing on the things you enjoy the most.

2. Develop Your Hard Shell—stay strong against life's challenges

Enhance Your Focus: Try to complete a task or project today as well as you can—without looking at others for approval. Can you bring something to fruition without worrying about the outcome? If you do feel you have to see your "results", compare them to your own past efforts rather than to what someone else has achieved.

Be Committed: Either give yourself a challenge or challenge a colleague, teammate or friend to decide on a certain goal with you. Write the challenge down on an index card and tape it to the wall to remind yourself of your goal. This commitment will make you accountable to your goals and responsible for your actions.

Overcoming Adversities: Ask yourself, "If I knew I couldn't fail, what would I try?" After you answer this question, ask yourself why it would be so awful to fail at the task or activity. We learn much more from our failures than we learn from our accomplishments.

3. Be Willing to Stick Your Neck Out—put yourself out there and find the support to make sure you follow through

Build Your Confidence: We all have our strong points and we need to remind ourselves of these attributes. Create a list today of all the personal traits that give you confidence. Everyone has strengths and weaknesses, and knowing your strengths will help you compensate for your shortcomings.

Start Taking Risks: We can't be afraid of failure. If you don't try, you have already failed. Why not give yourself the chance to succeed? Pick something that scares you a bit, and decide you are going to take the risk to follow through with it today.

Find Your Teamwork: A support system is crucial in helping you develop a strong character. Go out today and ask a few close friends how they would describe you. If they define you only in terms of your accomplishments, take the time to show them who you are in terms of your relationships. Think about the things you may be doing to project a title rather than a personality, and correct that.

I find that the same factors work to put someone at the top of their game, whether you are a triumphant athlete, Fortune 500 CEO, an accomplished politician, successful educator, or even an effective parent.

I hope these tips help you find your Turtle Effect and encourage you to strive for levels once thought impossible.

©2010 Nikki Stone, author of When Turtles Fly: Secrets of Successful People Who Know How To Stick Their Necks Out

About the Author:
At the Olympic Winter Games in Nagano, Japan, Nikki Stone became America's first-ever Olympic champion in aerial skiing. What made this performance so unbelievable was that less than two years earlier a chronic spinal injury prevented her from standing, much less walking or skiing. She overcame the injury and went on to earn 35 World Cup medals, 11 World Cup titles, four national titles, three World Cup titles, a World Championship title, and membership in the Ski Hall of Fame. Nikki is also a magna cum laude graduate of Union College and a summa cum laude masters graduate of the University of Utah. Today she trains Olympic athletes and business professionals in speaking/media skills, coaches personal and professional development courses, hosts group skiing adventures, sits on five different charitable committees, and writes articles and columns for many magazines, newspapers, and websites. Every spare moment is spent with husband, Michael Spencer, and daughter, Zali, in Park City, Utah. Nikki is the author of When Turtles Fly: Secrets of Successful People Who Know How To Stick Their Necks Out. For more information, please visit



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