Beyond the Hustle: Redefining High Performance with Finesse

One of the most common misconceptions I come across is the definition of high performance or what it means to be a high performer. When I first started discussing these concepts with clients, I noticed that in today’s world, the concept of “high performance” is often synonymous with relentless hustle, long hours, and even burnout. We’re bombarded with images of successful individuals working tirelessly, their calendars overflowing with meetings and deadlines. But what if I told you that true high performance in 2024 is not about sacrificing your well-being for work, but rather about creating a sustainable lifestyle that optimizes your potential?

Imagine: Waking up feeling energized and focused, tackling your work with clarity and purpose, and still having time for the things that truly matter in life – your relationships, your health, your passions. In other words a more holistic approach towards work-life, whereby mastering performance is pursued in all aspects, not only from 9-5 or Monday to Friday.

The Myth of the 70-Hour Workweek

We’ve all seen the headlines: “Elon Musk sleeps at the office!” or “Successful people work all the time!” These narratives have ingrained the idea that burning the midnight oil is the only path to success. But is this truly the reality?

Research suggests otherwise. A study by Stanford University found that cognitive function begins to decline after just a few all-nighters. Another study by Harvard Business School revealed that employees who work more than 50 hours a week experience diminishing returns, meaning their productivity actually starts to decrease after a certain point.

So, what does the science say about high performance?

Enter the experts:

  • Dr. Angela Duckworth, author of “Grit,” defines high performance as a combination of passion and perseverance. It’s not just about talent or intelligence; it’s about having the sustained effort and dedication to achieve your goals.
  • Professors Matthew Wolf and Aviva Baden-Fuller, authors of “The McKinsey Mind,” emphasize the importance of “quiet time” for high performers. This includes time for reflection, strategic thinking, and personal development – activities that are often sacrificed in the hustle culture.

Fueling Your Journey

Dotsie Bausch, a former Olympic cyclist and advocate for plant-based living, is a testament to the power of nutrition in high performance. After overcoming personal struggles and adopting a plant-based diet, she not only conquered her health but also won a silver medal at the 2012 Olympics at the age of 40, becoming the oldest athlete in her cycling discipline. Her story highlights the impact of choosing the right fuel to optimize both, physical and mental performance.

Prioritizing Rest & Recovery

Thiago Silva, the world-renowned footballer, is another example. As highlighted in a recent Guardian article [The Guardian, 2023], Silva actively prioritizes rest and recovery as a crucial element of his training regime. He emphasizes the importance of listening to his body, incorporating regular massages and cryotherapy treatments, and ensuring adequate sleep. This focus on recovery allows him to maintain his peak performance and compete at the highest level throughout his career, even at the age of 38.

Looking back at my own journey…

When I founded my business, nine years ago, I fell victim to the common misconception that the path to success was paved with long, relentless hours. I vividly remember being incredibly sick yet still dragging myself to the office, and another instance where I was working alone in a co-working space on a weekend, feeling utterly unproductive. Looking back, it’s difficult to imagine a less efficient period in my life.

Back then, I believed that constant presence and unwavering effort were the hallmarks of a successful entrepreneur. However, I lacked a clear roadmap to success, which led me to associate “hustle” with achievement. Disregarding the impact that it had on my relationships, my health, the lack of sleep, and many more signs. Like many others, I just thought that was part of the game. That, “if I wanted to become truly successful, that was the sacrifice to make”.

Today, the narrative is shifting. One question I frequently receive is how I manage to work a 25-hour-a-week schedule after years of intense grinding. And even more so, if that is only possible because of the long work hours in the past. The truth is, I don’t believe grinding was the only way, but rather the only approach I was aware of at the time.

Thankfully, we now have more readily available data and research from renowned scholars and case studies showcasing companies achieving remarkable results through alternative work models. I have also been fortunate enough to partner with visionaries like Ricardo Semler, people who redefined working hours as an entrepreneur not only for themselves.

These examples & stories, alongside the research, illustrate that high performance is not solely defined by the number of hours you work and helps us recognize potential in unexpected places.

Food for thought…

Are we possibly seeking performance in the wrong areas?

  • Could taking a proper lunch break be more productive than eating at your desk while responding to emails?
  • Is it possible that sleeping an hour longer makes you more productive than working an hour longer?
  • Is pushing through exhaustion truly productive, or would taking a walk and recharging your mind lead to better results?

Not to mention defining what success really looks like for you… That would probably be a good topic for another newsletter edition altogether.


True high performance isn’t about brute force, it’s about harnessing your unique strengths and creating a life that fuels your purpose—ultimately, creating a sustainable path to fulfillment. It’s a shift from the traditional hustle mentality to a more holistic approach that encompasses all aspects of your life.

The stories of Dotsie Bausch and Thiago Silva exemplify this. Bausch’s plant-based diet and Silva’s focus on rest and recovery demonstrate that high performance goes beyond just the hours you put in. I picked these two examples as both athletes are peaking well beyond what is considered possible. Dotsie Bausch went through overcoming personal challenges and eventually became the oldest athlete to be an Olympic medalist in her discipline. Thiago Silva is still playing top-level in the English Premier League at 39 years of age. An age where most footballers have already retired. He was voted Chelsea’s best player of the season last year. It’s about optimizing your body and mind to function at their peak.

High performance in today’s age is akin to being an athlete in business. It requires a constant search for improvement, a willingness to learn and adapt, and a growth mindset that propels you forward. We’re no longer competing against solely human limitations; we’re looking at integrating tools like AI to maximize efficiency.

This new perspective challenges the traditional view of success. It’s not about sacrificing your well-being for work, but rather designing a life and work approach that aligns with your values. By prioritizing mindset, skillset, nutrition, and rest & recovery, you can unlock productivity gains in ways that were unimaginable before.

Imagine achieving exceptional results and outperforming those who clock in 70-hour weeks, all while working significantly less. This is the power of redefining high performance – it allows you to thrive and make an impact without sacrificing your well-being.

By embracing this holistic view, we can rewrite the rules of success and create a future where productivity and fulfillment go hand in hand.


Hi, I am Domenico Pinto, I am a recovering workaholic. Not too long ago, I was working 80+ hours a week. Today I have reached productivity peaks that I didn’t even know were possible, all of that whilst working a fulfilling 25-hour work week. If this resonates with you, feel free to follow me for more on LinkedIn. You might also enjoy my recently published book, “The Great Shift,” available on Amazon in both ebook and paperback formats. If you’re having difficulty purchasing it, reach out—I’m here to help.

In addition to public speaking engagements, I work with individuals who join our personalized coaching and mentoring programs or through our online & F2F training sessions. I also work with organizations, on wider-scale transformations. My mission is to guide leaders, founders, and organizations toward high performance while achieving work-life harmony. Interested? I’d love to hear from you.

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