We surveyed thousands to better understand the healthy, and not so healthy, qualities of peak performers.
8 min read
Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.
The following article is based on excerpts from Ben Angel’s book, Unstoppable: A 90-Day Plan to Biohack Your Mind and Body for Success. Buy it now from Amazon | Barnes & Noble | iBooks | IndieBound. And be sure to order The Unstoppable Journal, the only journal of its kind based on neuroscience, psychology and biohacking to help you reach your goals.
When it comes to our identity, we tend to think it’s fixed forever, but the reality is, our identities evolve as we gain skills and experience new things. Still, one factor rarely considered is our energy levels. If you take a personality test when you’re feeling your absolute best, you’re going to get one result, but what happens when you suddenly introduce a nutritional deficiency, fatigue or toxins into your system? Your personality and behavior are going to change significantly. You’ll most likely become depressed, anxious and even angry, start making excuses and suddenly want to quit. In other words, the process by which we assess peak performance typically looks at one side of the equation — psychology — at the expense of prioritizing our biology and biochemistry.
In a hustle-until-you-die culture, it’s important to understand that you can’t pay a high psychological price without paying a high biological one. That’s why my team and I consulted doctors, clinical social workers, psychologists, neuroscientists and nutritionists and identified four specific identity types of succesful people — Defenders, Guardians, Synergists and Catalysts — and broke down their hysical and psychological energy capacities. We then conducted a survey of 43,000 successful business people from all over the world to get a clearer sense of their distinct daily habits.
Read through the identity types below, and see which one you can relate to the most.
Catalysts (75-100 Percent Capacity)
This category represents the epitome of conscious creators and peak performers. They have the physical and psychological energy requirements to go out and reach their most ambitious goals. Considered the key drivers for change in society, their biology supports all aspects of their cerebral endeavors, and they are able to combat myriad daily stressors. They track their progress daily and can pinpoint any issues to make corrections immediately.
Our survey of Catalysts reported the following:
- Ten percent rely on caffeine to get through the day.
- Fifty-eight percent exercise five-to-seven days a week.
- Two percent are on some form of medication.
- Twelve percent identify as overweight.
- Eight percent have some form of chronic pain.
- Twelve percent experience an afternoon crash.
- Six percent have poor gut health.
- Eighty-eight percent have a strong sense of purpose.
- Seventy-seven percent have healthy eating habits.
Synergists (50-75 Percent Capacity)
Synergists are on the cusp of this 50 percent threshold, and thus could go either way. They may elevate themselves through rest and recovery and turn themselves into a Catalyst, but if they do too much psychological output, they’re going to pay a biological price, which will see them drop below the 50 percent threshold and turn themselves into a Defender or Guardian.
In our survey, Synergists reported the following:
- Thirty percent rely on caffeine to get through the day.
- Thirty percent exercise five-to-seven days a week.
- Six percent are on some form of medication.
- Twenty-seven percent identify as overweight.
- Eighteen percent have some form of chronic pain.
- Forty-two percent experience an afternoon crash.
- Twenty-six percent have poor gut health.
- Sixty-two percent have a strong sense of purpose.
- Forty-seven percent have healthy eating habits.
Guardians (25-50 Percent Capacity)
When we sit below the 50 percent threshold, we can experience symptoms including anxiety, fear, depression and more. This is a situation where we actually need to go out and seek medical attention, because it’s not just your psychology that’s off, but also your biology.
In this case, once we biohack our biology, brain and psychology, it all comes back into alignment and we start feeling better. In this state, we’re also susceptible to unconscious creation, simply because we’ve turned on self-preservation mode.
In our survey, Guardians reported the following:
- Fifity-five percent rely on caffeine to get through the day.
- Seventeen percent exercise five-to-seven days a week.
- Twenty-one percent are on some form of medication.
- Forty-eight percent identify as overweight.
- Forty percent have some form of chronic pain.
- Seventy percent experience an afternoon crash.
- Fifity-nine percent have poor gut health.
- Thirty-one percent have a strong sense of purpose.
- Twenty-nine percent have healthy eating habits.
Defenders (25 Percent and Less Capacity)
If you are here, you need to get to a functional-medicine doctor immediately. Defenders are protecting what little physiological and psychological energy they have left to defend themselves from further attack from stress, toxins, inflammation and poor diet. Defender mode can be triggered by numerous changes, including a change in the stomach’s microbiome, a course of antibiotics, chronic stress, inflammation, a traumatic event, poor sleep and medications.
In our survey, Defenders reported the following:
- Seventy-three percent rely on caffeine to get through the day.
- Fourteen percent exercise five-to-seven days a week.
- Fifty-one percent are on some form of medication.
- Sixty-seven percent identify as overweight.
- Sixty-four percent have some form of chronic pain.
- Eighty-eight percent experience an afternoon crash.
- Eighty-three percent have poor gut health.
- Twelve percent have a strong sense of purpose.
- Fourteen percent have healthy eating habits.
Guardians and Defenders in Self-Preservation Mode
When we hit below the stated 50 percent threshold, our primal mind takes control of the situation because our brains and bodies are starved of energy and specific nutrients. When self-preservation mode comes on, we’re in that constant state of fight or flight where we’re anxious about everything and always thinking the worst-case situation is going to occur. We also make lots of excuses.
What’s really fascinating is that, in surveying 43,000 people internationally, we uncovered that six percent of people could be classified as Catalysts, 39.4 percent were Synergists and more than 54.6 percent were Guardians and Defenders — exhausted individuals who can’t think clearly and experience brain fog and potentially depression.
So, what does this result actually tell us? That a vast percentage of the population is struggling not just with their psychology, but also their biology.
What Can We Do?
The problem with our current society is when individuals start procrastinating or not wanting to get off the couch, we diagnose them as having a weak mental attitude, as if they just need to toughen up and get on with the job. But the problem with willpower is it’s finite.
Nutritional deficiencies, gut-health issues, excessive caffeine consumption and side effects from medications and toxins can mimic psychological disorders including anxiety, aggression and depression. So, if someone is trying to reach an ambitious goal, but their energetic requirements don’t meet the needs for them to achieve it, then the primal mind is going to make that decision. Yes, you can push through with willpower for some time, but when that runs out, you’re going to burn out.
And as we can see in the statistics for each identity type, an individual’s overall mental health isinked to excessive chronic pain, excessive medication use, inflammation, poor dietary habits, poor gut health and a lack of purpose. Anyone suffering from these symptons must first identify what these underlying issues and triggers are, address them, get them out of the way and fuel their brain so they can do the hard psychological work. Suddenly, you won’t need to apply willpower anymore, because you’ll be operating at your absolute best. Now, what identity type are you?
Are you ready to become unstoppable?
Visit www.areyouunstoppable.com and take your FREE 60-second online quiz now. By answering a series of simple questions, my software will analyze your results and provide you with a comprehensive report that will indicate your identity type and lead you to the tools and tips you need to close that gap between whom you are and who you could become. Take the quiz to get started!