I have to confess peaking too soon has never really been a problem for me.
I’m more the constant catch-up kind of gal. I meet deadlines, of course – you can’t be a freelancer and not meet deadlines – but if I get done with one thing before I absolutely have to, then I can rush over to something else I need to get cracking on. Or maybe clean out my files. Or maybe not.
So it’s hardly surprising I think the whole idea of “peaking too soon” is rather ridiculous, betraying at least a lack of imagination, if not energy.
O.K., there’s one set of circumstances under which it makes sense to talk about “peaking too soon.” That’s when there are clear physical limitations to how long something can last at its peak, like a flower in full bloom or an athlete at a full sprint.
Beyond that, I think it’s counter-productive to talk about “peaking too soon,” especially when it comes to your career or work output. I’ll outline why, using the word itself:
P is for Potential – I recall hearing amateur theater groups worry about “peaking too soon,” before their show opened. I guess their concern was that the work would no longer be fresh by the time they presented it to an audience. But that is the work – to make what you do fresh for every audience, no matter how many times you’ve performed it. That’s the only way you’ll come close to exploring what you can potentially do with the material. And that goes for any kind of work, with any kind of material. There’s always more you can do with it. The trick is to honor this without driving yourself crazy. When I have an answer to that one, I’ll write a book and give inspirational lectures.
E is for Energy – It’s only natural to ease up after you run or bike to the top of a hill. While resting and replenishing your stores is fine, letting your energy drop isn’t. It’s the first step to disengagement, which won’t help at all down the road. Make sure you stay plugged in and amped, even if you think you can’t top yourself.
A is for Adversaries – Let’s face it, this is a competitive world. If you’re kicking back at what you think is the top of the world, do you really think there isn’t someone scrambling up the side, with their eyes on your position, or an even bigger prize?
K is for Knowledge – Our perspective is always influenced by what we know, and what we know is always limited, so therefore our perspective is always limited, too. So how do you know you’re “peaking?” Because of what others tell you? Because of a voice inside you? Are any of these good sources? Make sure you have good information before you get too comfortable.
by Danielle Dresden