Peak Performers

(Critical Survey of Contemporary Fiction)

Charles Garfield, a former mathematician who trained as a psychologist, is a successful consultant and motivational speaker. He contrasts today’s worker with his father and grandfather. Both held the same tedious jobs for most of their working lives. The rewards for work were their families and that which they could provide them; freedom, dignity, and pride came at home, not on the job. Garfield contends that the contemporary generation will not accept drudgery on the job; they want the rewards and pleasures of achievement to be part of work, not a separate result. Fulfillment in work is an especially strong value for the peak performer.

Garfield studied peak performers for eighteen years. He discovered that they all had certain attributes in common. Among these are the abilities to recognize missions in their work that motivate them, to master and manage themselves, to build a team to achieve results, and to change direction when necessary. Peak performers also are not afraid to fail; they might make more mistakes than their co-workers. The author contends that these attributes are basic skills that can be learned by everyone: Peak performers are made not born.

This book assumes that the nature of work now, as opposed to past generations, makes it possible for all workers to employ the methods of the peak performers. The main portion of the text is arranged into chapters that deal with each attribute; within the chapters there are subsections. For example, “Team Building/Team Playing” includes sections on giving power, being a team builder, and being a team player. These widely accepted virtues are not analyzed so much as they are illustrated by anecdotes of familiar and not-so-familiar successes by business people fortunate enough to be in work situations that allow them to achieve clearly defined and attainable goals.