The Psychology of Peak Performance

One of my favorite genre of books is biographies and memoirs. One reason is my fascination with peak performance. I’ve always been curious on the psychology and the mindset of athletes and musicians during peak performance.

Two previous blog posts, Mushin and Shooting for a Prize, summarize my thoughts on peak performance.


Mushin is japanese word describing a mental state of no mindness”. The term is commonly used in japanese martial arts and is achieved when one’s mind is free from thoughts of anger, fear, and ego during combat.

It’s in this state that the martial artist or samurai is the most dangerous. They’re mind is not clouded by these thoughts and they are free to react to the flow of their opponent.

Mushin is a state of peak performance that can be applied to not only combat but everyday life whether it be exams, interviews, or on dates.

Shooting for a Prize

When the archer shoots for no particular prize, he has all his skills; when he shoots to win a brass buckle, he is already nervous; when he shoots for a gold prize, he goes blind, sees two targets, and is out of his mind. His skill has not changed, but the prize divides him. He cares! He thinks more of winning than of shooting, and the need to win drains him of power. - Chuang Tzu

It seems to me that those with the best jobs, the most wealth, and are the happiest, don’t set these things as their goals.

They aren’t focused on the prize but rather chase what they’re are genuinely curious in and are indifferent to the outcome.

Everything else comes as a by product.

February 5, 2022

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