Performance on the job is crucial, in particular for high-pressure jobs when the tiniest drop in concentration can lead to huge losses or mistakes.
Whilst trading derivatives at Santander, it was imperative to always be full-time focused on the market, in particular when performing a large trade: one had to simultaneously model and give updated prices to the customers whilst listening to six or seven brokers giving market quotes. All of this whilst hedging the customer trade. Sometimes making or breaking it was a question of 1 or 2 seconds: if you missed it, you lost it. And in a market where losing it means being out of a job, you’d better start making it as much as possible if you want to keep receiving your paychecks.
So being able to multi-task was essential and any small mistake or lack of focus could make you lose the trade or even worse, miss the hedge and close the deal already at a loss. One had to be focused, rested and prepared prior to the market opening. So during my time at the Bank, I came across a few performance formulas through different readings and found them very useful tools to keep on the back of your mind.
1. The 20/20/20 Formula:
The way you start your day powerfully shapes how productively you live it. Reserve the first 60 minutes for personal preparation. As the Spartan warriors said: “Sweat more in training and you’ll bleed less in war.” Spend your first 20 minutes in intense exercise. Sweating releases BDNF, a brain chemical that actually grows neural connections. Working out also releases dopamine (the neurotransmitter of motivation) and serotonin, which makes you feel happy.
For the next “20 minute pocket”, review your annual plan and reflect deeply on your quarterly goals. Clarity precedes mastery and this practice will deepen your focus through the day.
Invest the final 20 minutes of this morning routine on learning (i.e., read autobiographies of great humans or listen to a leadership podcast or download the lessons of yesterday into your journal).
2. The 90/90/1 Rule:
This habit alone has delivered vast value for my clients. Simply stated: for the next 90 days, dedicate the first 90 minutes of your work day to your single most important opportunity, the one thing that if you executed on it flawlessly, would cause everything to rise.
Average performers get to work and check their email or surf the net. For the true leader, reaching the office is the start of showtime. They understand that developing a monomaniacal focus on their vital few priorities unleashes legendary results.
3. The 60/10 Method:
Good research confirms that what makes the best athletes the best in the world is not what they do in their sport but how effectively they recover. For example, it was the rituals that star tennis players did in between points that made them stars. What made the Russian weightlifters so undefeatable was their “work-rest ratios”.
So, set a timer for 60 minutes and during those intervals, turn off your technology, shut your door and dive—with massive intensity—into the project that matters. Then, recover with a pristine break like walking, listening to music or reading. Just try this protocol for a month and witness the gains.