A Blueprint for Elite Performance

In a January presentation to Newfront, one of the leading experts in high-performance psychology, Eric Potterat, Ph.D., described traits that set elite performers apart and provided a blueprint for how to improve stress response and become mentally tough. _

Newfront President Brian Hetherington first contacted renowned performance psychologist Eric Potterat, Ph.D. with a specific ask in mind. He wanted Potterat to deliver a blueprint for high performance to his growing teams of Newfront employees—a diverse array of enthusiastic, experienced, and deeply connected individuals who are bound by a common desire: to help Newfront transform the business of insurance. From brokers to technologists and multiple roles that bridge them, Hetherington believes Newfront teams are poised to deliver next-level performance across numerous practices. 

“Newfront has sought out—and attracted—people who want to be agents of positive change in their fields. Insurance represents one of the largest greenfield opportunities when it comes to modernization. Our people understand the incredible value to be had in connecting leading-edge technology solutions to a deep bench of brokerage expertise,” he said. 

Since Eric has spent his career helping ambitious organizations—from the Navy SEALS to the Los Angeles Dodgers—develop the personal traits that drive elite performance, we asked him to speak to our performance-curious team. “‘TEAM’ is our key internal theme for 2023 and Eric’s work fits nicely into the track of training and personal growth we have planned for our employees,” Hetherington added. 

Potterat — who has worked with hundreds of business executives, NASA, law enforcement agencies, firefighting organizations, and world-class athletes from every sport, including gold medalist Nathan Chen and the U.S. Women’s Soccer team — began his presentation by asking, “What is mental toughness?” It seems like a simple question—until you try to define it. Potterat then explained to hundreds of Newfront community members that though we all know mental toughness when we see it, we can’t always explain what it is. Pressed to define it, most of us will describe mental toughness as poise under pressure, stress tolerance, or the ability to limit distractions and stay confident and composed. In reality, Potterat says, those are all end states. The question then becomes, how do we reach those states? 

In a fascinating hour-long talk, Potterat walked through the key traits shared by the high performers he’s encountered: Grit, Mindset, Adversity Tolerance, and Balance.

For each trait, he explained the science and insights that make them such important differentiators. Then he synthesized the core of each trait with clear takeaways. How to increase your Grit? “The foundation of becoming grittier is working outside of your comfort bubble.” What does having a growth Mindset really look like? “The hallmark of elite performers is a thirst for useful feedback.” And why is it important to make sure your relationships, your health, and the other pillars of your life are strong and in Balance? “The beach house with the most pillars is going to withstand the storm.” Talking about Adversity Tolerance, Potterat highlighted the fact that the most foundational aspect of these elite performers — their ability to stay cool and focused in high-stress moments — is not hereditary; it’s learned. The best-of-the-best performers focus on their mindset during high-stress moments because it’s dead-center within their sphere of control. “The rest is outside of your control. So, try to stay in that circle. The elite performers are focusing where they can affect change,” Potterat said.

He laid out tangible strategies to improve everything from goal setting to breathing to self-awareness and explained how each enabled better performance. 

Did you miss the presentation? We wish we could share more details, but the rest is Potterat’s proprietary work. The good news is that he’s applying the finishing touches to an upcoming book covering the core aspects of elite performance. Expect the first edition from HarperCollins in 2024. Potterat’s blueprint for high performance is both inspiring and data-driven. 

If you’re interested in developing the traits of elite performers, you can learn more about Eric here. He’s also a member of the Liminal Collective, a global community of experts studying the challenges and limits of human performance.

If you want to learn how Newfront can bring these high-performance traits to you and your business, please don’t hesitate to reach out.

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