top of page

The Complete Guide: How To Think Like a High Performer

I’ve always been a bit of an overachiever.

Rumor has it (well, according to my mom) I skipped crawling and went straight to walking as a toddler.

So as you can see, I started early...

Throughout my career, I was viewed as a HIPO - high potential - employee.

From my first job as a teenager at Burger King, through my days as a travel agent, and all the way to the executive suite in the startup world.

I didn't have an MBA, a massive network, or any real pedigree when I started. I don’t believe I had a special talent that made me more qualified, but what I did have is a different perspective. You see, the difference between the average employee and top performers has nothing to do with talent or accolades. It’s all about how they think, prioritize and execute.

Today I’ll dive into the 3 mindset shifts that will take you into the employee hall of fame. I’ll show you how to start thinking differently so you can become a high performer at any level of your career.

(If you want to go deeper, watch this masterclass I did a few months ago).

But first, let’s talk about why you should become a high performer.

The benefits of being a high performer

Okay, a few reasons come to mind:

  • Personal growth

  • Making a bigger impact

  • Respect and recognition

  • Fulfillment and satisfaction

  • Perks, bonuses, and raises

I know what you are thinking. “Maya, that sounds great, but wouldn’t I need to work harder to become a high performer?”

Yes and no. It depends on your definition of harder.

High performers work more strategically, they tackle bigger challenges and need to learn new things.

That requires time and effort - but it doesn’t always translate into more hours. It just means they spend their time differently.

If you want to start thinking like a high performer, let’s talk about the difference between the average employee and high-performers.

The average employee

The average employee thinks in terms of:

(1) Tactics

(2) Short-term gains

(3) What’s better for me

Let’s break it down:

1. Tactics

Most employees are focused on execution. They do the work they were told to do, in the same way, it has always been done. They spend their time getting things done without giving too much thought to the end goal.

That can result in doing moot work.

2. Short-term gains

When they can’t see the bigger picture most employees optimize for immediate gratification. They make decisions based on the present without considering the impact their choices could have in the long run. They play a short-term game and achieve small wins.

This kind of thinking doesn’t lead to big breakthroughs or massive impacts. And what is worse, short-term wins may cause long-term losses.

3. What’s better for me?

The average employee often makes decisions based on the direct impact that decision will have on them. They optimize for what they want, not what the company needs. While personal interests are important, they shouldn’t drive all professional decision-making. That can lead to a conflict of interests and reflect poorly on your commitment to your employer.

High performers

If the average employee thinks in terms of tactics, short-term gains, and personal benefit, high performers are the exact opposite. They think in terms of:

(1) Strategy

(2) Long-term greedy

(3) What’s better for the company

Let’s break it down.

1. Strategy

High performers start with a goal. They understand there are different ways to achieve a goal, and look for efficient and effective ways to win while leveraging the available resources. They optimize for the end goal, not just getting things done. They optimize for outcomes, not outputs.

They ask questions like:

- What are we trying to achieve?

- What are all the different ways to reach our goal?

- What way is most likely to give us the results we want?

And as a result, they are able to hit their goals, overdeliver and even create new norms and standards.

2. Long-term greedy

High performers always think about the bigger picture. They consider both immediate results as well as long-term implications. They optimize for the biggest gain, not immediate gratification. They play the long game, to win big.

They consider things like:

- The company’s strategy and needs (not just their department)

- The state of the market and their industry

- How their decision may impact other people

- Alternative costs

As a result, they are able to hit their immediate goals, but also set themselves and the company up for success in the long run. They are also able to make a bigger impact - as some of their small bets compound and end up driving massive value.

3. What’s better for the company

High performers understand their biggest contribution will come from making the company more successful, not just themselves. They put their ego aside and focus on the company goals, not just their own.

They think like an owner and ask themselves: “If this was my company, what would I want my employees to do?”.

That means:

- Finding the best person for the job, even if it’s not them

- Working collaboratively with colleagues, not competitively

- Going beyond their job description when they can contribute

- Aligning on what success looks like, and working to achieve company goals

The result? Maximizing their value and becoming invaluable to their employers.

Get into a high-performer state of mind

Becoming a high performer starts with your mindset. The first step is realizing that your job is to make the company successful, regardless of what is in your job description.

You can do that by changing your perspective, asking the right questions, optimizing for impact, and taking action on the things that move the needle.

You don’t have to work harder (a.k.a. more hours) to become a high performer, you need to work smarter and spend your time on making an impact, not just checking boxes.

You can start today by watching this free masterclass called 6-Figure Career Success.

You'll learn everything you need to get yourself into the top 1% of performers.


Level Up Your Career With One Email Per Week

Get practical and actionable career advice every Saturday so you can level up, earn more and grow 3x faster!

Stuck at the Director level for 2+ years?
Tired of being told "you are not ready"?

Learn how to break through to executive roles without the complexity and overwhelm, or working 60/h weeks 💪

Check out my proven 13-week coaching program Success Builders to turn your career goals into reality.

bottom of page