by Dr. Ray Metcalfe
Between 1987 and 1996 my team conducted an analysis
of over 15,000 elite performers throughout North America.
Over 200 professional groups and vocations were analyzed.
(Elite performers were defined as those in the top 5% of
As our research data came in, and we did the proverbial
“number crunching”, a distinct pattern began to develop. No
matter where we tested our elite performers, no matter what
industry they were in, or what profession they represented,
there was a consistent, and common cluster of 6 common
performance strengths that emerged. Of the 15,000 elite
performers that we assessed, we did not find one exception!
Furthermore, there was a specific and predictable range of
strength possessed in each area. For instance, one area was
Self-Control. All elite performers, on a scale of 1-10, fell
within a predictable range of 6-8.
Six Common Strengths of Elite Performers
1. Elite performers think well.
While they may not necessarily be high-I.Q.
individuals, they all tend to be high-average, and their
reasoning abilities are sharp and clear. The issue here,
when working with your clients, is to evaluate their clarity
of thought, and level of focus. It is not so much “how much
you have”, in terms of intelligence, but is your client
using, to the best of his/her ability, what he in fact has.
2. Elite performers are bold.
Elite performers tend to be confident, persuasive, and
display a higher than average level of energy. Complementary
to this, is a natural “Social Boldness”, which allows them
to venture out, where others may tend to hesitate.
3. Elite performers bounce back
Critical to success, is the ability to persevere during
difficult times, and the ability to “get up off of the
floor” after major setbacks. This emotional resilience
relates to overall emotional integration and the ability
to“get it together” emotionally. Of interest to coaches and
consultants, is that regular cardiovascular exercise
elevates emotional resilience, typically within three months
of starting a program of exercise.
4. Elite performers are disciplined
It is often taught, especially among motivational speakers,
that self discipline or self control leads to frustration,
and that good habits are to be preferred. On the contrary,
elite performers are all high in the area of self control.
They plan their activities carefully, follow their detailed
plan, and display exceptional impulse control.
5. Elite performers have strong interpersonal skills
It is often said that “Business is Relationships”. This is
especially true of elite performers. While they aren’t all
“people people”, they are all approachable, and show a
genuine interest in others. They are not soft, however, and
are not reserved in speaking their mind. They do connect
well with others, and contrary to popular belief, hold their
friendships for long periods of time.
6. Elite performers are practical
Elite performers know how to take their ideas and make them
practical. Included in this strength, is the willingness to
try new ideas and approaches, and the ability to let go of
that which is not working out. This is not to be confused
with pragmatism, as we found that elite performers tend to
work from a personal belief and value system, to which they
An important point
All six strengths must be present: five out of six won’t do
it. When all six are present we have an elite performance
mindset. This mindset is a particular way of thinking,
processing, and behaving that produces a balanced mind,
clarity of vision, and high-end results. And yes, an Elite
Performance mindset can be identified and developed.
About the author: Dr. Ray Metcalfe is an elite performer
researcher, consultant and speaking. He is currently rolling
out the Elite Performer Selection Report, designed to assist
coaches who want to develop maximum performance with their
clients. Ray can be reached at