Are you performing up to your potential? Are you afraid to jump to the next level? Are your habits pushing you ­forward or holding you back?

The most important book on self-motivation and ­achieving more than you imagined hit the bookstores last week: "High Performance Habits: How Extraordinary People Become That Way," by Brendon Burchard.

Burchard is the world's leading high-performance coach and a sought-after personal development trainer. Drawing inspiration from ­Stephen ­Covey's "Seven Habits of Highly Successful People," Burchard was determined to answer three questions:

• Why do some individuals and teams succeed more quickly than others and sustain that success over the long term?

• Of those who pull it off, why are some miserable and others consistently happy on their journey?

• What motivates people to reach for higher levels of ­success in the first place, and what practices help them improve the most?

I've heard Burchard speak on several occasions, so I invited him to speak to my roundtable group about his results. "The right habits lead to sustained long-term success. High performance means succeeding beyond standard norms, consistently over the long-term," Burchard explained. "It feels like full engagement, joy and confidence that come from giving your absolute best."

Shockingly, just fewer than 15 percent of the population are high performers.

Years of research led ­Burchard to identify the six deliberate habits that gave people the edge. He also discovered that anyone can practice these habits with extraordinary results in their lives, relationships and careers.

Burchard cites six habits in a long-term success story:

• Seek clarity. "You generate clarity by asking questions, researching, trying new things, sorting through life's opportunities, and sniffing out what's right for you. It comes from asking yourself questions and further refining your ­perspective on life."

• Generate energy. "I'm convinced that if we can get you to change the way you shift from one activity to the next, we can revitalize your life."

• Raise necessity. "When you feel necessity, you don't sit around wishing or hoping. You get things done. If I've learned anything from my research and a decade of interventions developing high performers, it's that you cannot become extraordinary without a sense that it's absolutely necessary to excel."

• Increase productivity. "Clear and challenging goals are the starting point. Taking care of yourself, including good sleep, nutrition, exercise and positive emotions help you maintain energy. Keeping focused isn't easy in the modern era with ­information overload, distractions and interruptions diminishing ­productivity."

• Develop influence. "Having influence means you can get people to believe in you or your ideas, buy from you, follow you or take actions that you request of them," he explained. "Of course, influence is a two-way street."

• Demonstrate courage. "Demonstrating courage doesn't mean you have to save the world or do something grandiose. Sometimes, it means taking a first step toward real change in an unpredictable world."

Mackay's Moral: The biggest room in the world is the room for improvement.

Harvey Mackay is a Minneapolis businessman. Contact him at 612-378-6202 or e-mail