The author of this book, Pep Marí, defines himself as a privileged person who lives working on his passion. He was the head psychologist in the High Performance Center (CAR) of Sant Cugat (Barcelona).

This book is interesting for us because it explains what high performance profiles have in common and how we can apply it to our daily lives.


The pyramid of the psychological aspects that influence in our performance

Model to classify the psychological aspects involved in performance.

Anyone who wants to achieve high performance in an activity must meet the following requirements: keep a stable mood, surround himself with an environment that does not detract from his work, be very clear about the goals pursued, pay all the price they that this goals cost, quickly learn from their mistakes and tolerate the pressure. 





1 | Chances to Learn (The Environment)

We shared with Alex Corretja (professional extenist) a talk aimed to young tennis players. One of the children asked him about the secret of his success. Alex drew a series of circles on the board: family, friends, his wife and his professional team. Together, they had formed his surroundings during his career. Well, as the player himself said, the secret was that “everyone played the same music a me, we all rowed in the same direction.” The boy was not satisfied with the answer and he added: “And what would have happened if one of them had not played the same music?” “I should got rid of him/her, because I would have ruined the work of everyone else…” Alex replied. This is a good example of the role that environment plays.

2 | Desire to Learn (Motivation)

To be motivated, two conditions are necessary: to have very clear your goals and pay the full price to achieve them. This price consists of three taxes:

3 | Learn to Learn (Skills and Attitudes)

Recently a coach told me: “There are only two kinds of athletes: those who are looking for excuses to fail and those who are looking for a solution to be able to succeed.”

In front of a difficulty, winners adapt. 

Mistakes give us the opportunity to try again. Of course, try again with greater knowledge. 

4 | Show what has been learned (Know how to compete)

Gervasio Deferr, triple Olympic medalist in artistic gymnastics, and one of the best competitors I have ever met, always remembered the quote, just before a competition: “I will do exactly the same thing I have done thousands of times in my workouts.”

Not making an appointment, a meeting, a conference or any other situation, too special, is the first step in learning to compete. All appointments are equally important, all meetings are equally complicated and all conferences equally difficult. All are equal, none should be considered special if you want to live up to it.  


There seems to be a relation between the numbers of self-esteem sources (activities to which a person dedicates his time) and his emotional stability.

If you pretend to perform regularly, it is essential living in a stable way.

Four or five points of support provide the individual with marked emotional stability. However, if you are chasing the maximum performance in an activity, this structure has a strong handicap: it distributes the efforts too much. With so little dedication to each of the activities, the possibilities of achieving excellence in one of them are complicated.

One or two points of support do center the investment but put the stability of the mood structure at risk. If one of the two pillars falls, the entire building also falls and with it the person who inhabited it. Moreover, where do we rely on to recover the person? That is why the structure that facilitates performance is formed by three points of support.

It is necessary to recognize if the differents components of an athlete’s environment add, substract or do not interfere in his/her performance.

Albert Ellis, predicted that the more sacred things (untouchables) the person had, the less chance he had of being happy. Since I knew this, I no longer wish people to be happy. Now I ask you to be flexible. 

The combination of these three values does not ensure triumphs, but it does guarantee success. Success is to achieve the goal, which in a professional sports environment is usually a victory. To succeed means not stop growing and evolving. This is difficult!

Champions persist in the face of difficulty. If the surrendered to the first exchange they would never reach the top. Champions tolerate large amounts of work. Without this high dedication, excellence in an activity is not achieved. And champions tolerate heavy doses of pressure, not only during competitions, but also during day-to-day life. The pressure of the competition is given by what is at stake. The pressure of training feeds on fatigue and sacrifice. Who is not a specialist tolerating these conditions has no options to achieve high performance. 

Check the difference between involvement and commitment. In a continental breakfast, the chicken is involved and the pig is compromised. That is because the chicken has only paid part of the price to make breakfast possible; it has only laid two eggs. On the other hand, the pig has paid absolutely all the possible price: it has left the skin and life to make breakfast possible.

Doing everything depends on you and assume the risk that maybe it is possible that you will not achieve your goal.

High level athletes need to present several types of consistency:

a)  Consistency between your values and the decisions you make in your life.

b) Consistency between what they want and what they do to achieve it.

c) Consistency between the level of ambition of its objectives and the level of commitment to its means.

At least three elements are essential to start a compromise: a desire, which is nothing more than the awareness of a necessity; the possibility of choosing, and the feeling that something can be contributed in relation to the object of commitment.

Nobody commits to what he does not need:

Nobody commits to what he does not decide for himself;

Nobody commits to something that escapes their control.  

Do not make the same mistake twice in a row.

Being responsible is making decisions and carrying their consequences.

Most things we must do to change one habit for another, are not understood at first.

Being aware of the problem is half the solution.

The trick of champions is to focus the competitions in such a way that, regardless of what is objectively at stake, they perceive more possibilities than limitations.  

When team members are forced to share the tasks necessary to achieve the goals they pursue, the concept of individual role appears. The role is equivalent to the function and refers to the set of responsibilities that each player must fulfill on and off the court.

At the end of the game, the journalist asked him: 


Managing High Performance Teams

The first rule for a manager should be to treat all the members of the team, according their needs (rather than their requests). This rule also includes making the rest of the group understand that this differential treatment benefits the entire group.

In the real world, things are almost never so clear and can be demonstrated. At the moment of truth, almost everything admits interpretations. This a good reason to remember that we work with perceptions.

Now I am convinced that being a good manager of people is to agree on perceptions. It is about helping the group to find what is common in their opinions.

The art of managing people is to make all group members feel identified with and agreement.

If we want to build something we must rely on similarities. If we want to destroy, then it will be better to look for discrepancies between speeches. 

Surprise to open the door, emotion to invite to cross it and reasons to finish convincing.

When you get the conclusion, the message enters through one ear and out the other. When things are presented to you in such a way that they force you to draw the conclusion, the message enters the ear and descends to the heart.

Athletes have taught me that people do not change because someone tells us that we have to change. We do it when someone makes us realize that we must change.

Synthesis of the most important ideas in the book:

➜ Base your mood on three points of support.

➜ Make your beliefs as flexible as possible.

➜ Combine ambition, humility and order in your lifestyle.

➜ Cultivate tolerance.

➜ Set goals with a point of madness.

➜ Pay the full price that your goals cost and take the risk of not reaching them.

➜ Commit yourself only to what you need, what you choose and what you control.

➜ Get in the habit of analyzing your mistakes.

➜ Every time you learn something new, check how much you knew so far.

➜ Set short-term goals that bring you closer to your long-term goals.

➜ Never interpret mistakes as a failure.

➜ Do not make any situation special.

➜ Base your confidence on preparation, talent and results.

➜ Change threats for challenges and limitations for possibilities.

➜ Notice the changes that occur in the way you operate under pressure.

➜ Have a way of understanding the activity to be developed as a team.

➜ Translate that conception into a methodology and a role for each team member.

➜ Assign the different roles to the most appropriate people to do it.

➜ Get those people to stay true to their roles.

➜ Consensus decisions.

➜ Treat each person according to their needs. 

➜ Surprise, move and convince to react.

➜ Make the conclusion drawn to whom you intend to move.

➜ Talent consist of imagining fast.

➜ Under pressure, only what is mechanized works well.

➜ Most of a team’s problems are due to the selfishness of its members.

➜ The function of a star player is not to shine, but to make the team shine.