A former client passed on a blogpost from Rob May’s Businesspundit.com. Rob talks about how he gave up desserts for the past eight months. That would be interesting (or crazy, depending on your point of view), but listen to Rob’s reasoning for his abstention from sweets.

I’m not on a diet. I’ve been right around 170 lbs. for the last 10 years, with the exception of a brief period where a running injury forced me to take 6 weeks off (I gained 12 pounds). I don’t need to lose weight, I am simply trying to become a better entrepreneur.

You may be thinking, “Hold on, what does dessert have to do with entrepreneurial performance?” Athletic performance, yes. But work performance?

Fear not, chocolate lovers, I’m not going to embark on a tirade against sweets (I’m currently partial to chocolate covered cherries from Trader Joe’s). That’s not the point of this post or of Rob’s (click here to see his whole post). Instead, Rob talks about how his self-discipline in eating has slopped over into his self-discipline at work.

This is actually quite a profound point. We tend to slice our lives up into little chunks: career, personal life, diet, exercise, spiritual health, emotional health. Of course, no one really lives their lives that way. Each person lives one life. Period. And different aspects of that life inevitably affect other parts. I have a client trying to qualify for the Boston Marathon right now – I can promise you that his discipline and drive for that goal have positive effects on his performance at work. As he says, “Marathons are like life. Ups and downs, decisions and trade-offs, pain and triumph.” He gets it.

What does this have to do with coaching someone who wants to improve their own performance? My colleague, Dave Wondra, often sings the praises of persistent practice – the selection of one or two activities that – when applied consistently over time – pour gasoline on a strength or neutralize a potential flat side.

The key here appears to be a self-selected, consistent behavioral activity that we commit to over an extended period. The progress from that practice overflows into other areas and help us raise our performance across the board.

So what practices have you tried? What’s worked for you? How can you use persistent practice with people you coach to help them reach new levels of success?