How high-level performers become experts in their chosen field


We’d all like to be good at something – and the chances are that we have achieved a level of expertise in one area or another – whether it’s sport or academics or caring for someone else.

Sometimes we might wonder if we have become good at the right things for us – perhaps we studied law to please our parents rather than because we really wanted to – and now we’re a card carrying member of the unhappy professionals society.

How do some people seem to avoid that fate – and become good at something they choose to do?

There are four steps, according to Doug Newburg who in 2002 created the Resonance Performance Model (RPM) to describe what high-level performers do from his research.

Start with a dream

We need to start with a picture of where we want to get to – and how we want to feel when we get there.

We also need to be aware of what gets in the way – people, conditions and experiences that don’t help us feel that way.

Then there is preparation

We need to put in the time, the effort to build the skills, capability and capacity we need.

Whether it’s putting the time into studying or practice, top performers work on themselves and their abilities.

We’d be best off doing this strategically as well, focusing our efforts on areas that matter and where we can see results.

Things are always going to get in the way

There will be bumps along the path, little ones and big ones.

By being aware that they will come along, we’ll be better prepared to deal with them mentally, physically and emotionally.

Sometimes they can be terrifying or paralysing – and slow us down a lot.

We need to remember and revisit the dreams we have

At which point, we need to remind ourselves why we started this whole thing in the first place. Why we set off to become good at something that mattered to us.

Writing down goals helps. Reflecting along the way helps.

We need to make the time to look at the picture and where we are in it so that we don’t get stuck.

We achieve resonance when we achieve a fit between what’s in us and what is outside

Resonance happens when how we feel inside and what we have outside fit well together – when we are able to do something we like, are good at and can find flow in our work.

The RPM is a simple model – but like most simple models it tells us simply that if we want to do something, work on it every day, tackle the inevitable setbacks and keep ourselves going by keeping that dream in mind – we’ll get where we want to one day.


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