Dr. Nido Qubein, President of High Point University, posed this question to an audience of high-level business professionals last week in North Carolina. I was speaking at the event and decided to stay and listen to Dr. Qubein dazzle the audience with his wisdom. This is a great question all of us in the mental toughness community should be asking ourselves on a regular basis. Watch this short video I taped today from San Diego and see what you think. I’ll look forward to your comments.   Steve Siebold   ( 3:50 )

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Steve Siebold
Author and Professional Speaker since 1997. Past Chairman of the National Speakers Association's Million Dollar Speakers Group. Author of 11 books with 1.4 million copies in print.

21 thoughts on “Are You Operating at Maximum or Optimum?”

  1. Maximum?! Optimum?! How about Optimax?
    There are those in society who operate at optimax whereby their passion for life, art, and expression have little to do with income and more to do with the human experience. Yes, Financial requirements dictate that we each keep an eye on cashflow, and yes there are those of us who know how to direct our talents in a direction that secures cashflow.
    But if you look at the greatest contributors to the ocean of humanity, (see my blurb on this at http://universallightchurch.org/Ocean_of_Humanity.html ) many of them were not rich in a monetary sense, but they operated at optimax.
    My admiration for Napoleon Hill is in his adherence to Judeo/Christian values in the dissemination of personal development methodologies and, if so desired, wealth building.
    Life is too short not to operate, with great joy and attitude and personal satisfaction at OPTIMAX.
    EJ Topping

  2. Thank you so much for the explanation, Jaroslav. I was getting mixed up on the difference. Pam

  3. Optimum is the most favorable condition or greatest degree or amount possible under given circumstances. It’s also the most desirable outcome possible under a restriction expressed or implied.

    Maximum is the largest possible quantity, the utmost, the greatest possible degree and it’s also the point on a curve where the tangent changes from positive on the left to negative on the right.

    It seems to me if you think things through completely and know what’s really important to you, then only one of these concepts makes sense as a sustainable operating system.

    Be Well,


  4. When I’m truly honest with myself, my answer to your critical thinking question is “neither”.

    It’s easy for me to admit that I’m not performing optimally. But it’s also easy to delude myself into thinking that I’m performing at “maximum” when I’m really not.

    Maximum effort is like a muscle – it contracts when it’s not used, but expands when worked regularly.

  5. The most successful people consistently ask themselves. “is this the best use of my attention at this moment?” ~ David Cottrell

    Are we operating at our maximum or at our optimum. Great mental toughness thinking question for us Steve. One that I grapple with every morning when I wake up.

    I started this post with a quote from David Cottrell because for me, I believe what makes the difference between having an optimal or maximal day comes down to my ability to practice a good time management system and staying focused.

    This is a humungous task for me because I am a dreamer. A butterfly chaser if you will. Often my best intentions of being task oriented with the goal of operating at my optimum can be changed with one single thought which promptly turns into several more thoughts and most often than not, I find myself operating on automatic pilot and doing many other things that I had not set out to do on that day, or in that moment just for the sake of getting them done.

    I have recently heard it said that if you are a list maker (which I am) and you live by your list, your list owns you. The best way to manage your time is to block off your day in realistic chunks of time that you are going to spend working on a specific project, (realistic ;-)) and then plug your list into your alloted blocks of time. i.e. if I have things on my list that pertain to marketing, make sure I do those things during the time I have allowed to do marketing. etc.

    I also believe the difference between operating at maximal or optimal comes down to a shift in ones thinking and awareness. I love, love, love when I’m operating at optimal. The high that I get is such an amazing feeling that I want to make every day an optimal day.

    Awesome post Steve!
    I’m off to have a very optimal day today thanks to your thought provoking question!

  6. thanks Steve for raising such an interesting yet complicated state of mind. All i can do i bow here and honor you for drawing a fine line between these two and reminding us of this known phenomenon which we tend to ignore…

    But Yes, life starts now….way to go dude!!!

  7. Great question, Steve!

    I personally believe any thought we think is possible just by having that thought.
    I have found that when I take time to plan my day and set an intention for how I would like my day to unfold, I accomplish so much more and also enjoy my day in the process.

    I used to work 24/7 operating at “maximum” and now choose to work “optimally” and as a result am now able to accomplish more with less effort and alot less stress.

    Thanks for sharing! 🙂

    Mary Sell, Law of Attraction Certified Coach
    Wichita, KS

  8. It occurred to me that the maximum might the “busy-ness” many individuals get caught in. Perhaps we’ve all heard the question, are you busy? Or when people ask us how we’re doing, we reply, I’m really busy… In another words must we look busy in order to operate at our optimum?
    Great question Steve. BTW, you look like you need a well deserved break.

  9. I agree with all of the comments above. A somewhat simplistic example: Compare reading a novella of the finest fiction with reading some pulp fiction volume on hundreds of pages. Which one of these reads will add the most quality to your life?

  10. Wow – I agree. I also innately know when I am working at MAXIMUM (aka ‘sometimes meaning’ BURNOUT – for me) and when I am working at OPTIMUM (aka “CHANNELED” through me). The issue with you bringing it up is now I will recognize my state of being much clearer and sooner. So glad you brought this up and to a new level. THANKS MUCH!!!

    Mo Bailey

  11. Steve,
    What a great question! There is a fine line between pushing too hard and pushing right to the optimum level. I’m impressed that you are still pushing! Tell Bruce to let you have some down time during the holidays! Best to you and Dawn.

  12. Steve, I love your work. Mad respect! But, why do you snicker every time you introduce yourself. It’s weird. I’d think a seasoned speaker such as yourself would have a more polished intro. Not hatin’, just sayin’.

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