Aug 29

Applying Athletic Success to Leadership in Business?

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I discovered the following article searching for content that might be interesting to you, connecting athletic success to life outside the sports scenario. Can we apply the following to coaching since it is a professional career, and a business, in my opinion?

Applying Athletic Success to Leadership in Business?

The athlete steps up to the starting blocks in the Olympic stadium, stands tall, takes a few deep breaths, and shakes out the muscles. People cheer while the athlete is introduced but his/her eyes never waver from the course ahead. When the starting gun fires, the athlete explodes into high-performance action.

How can we apply this scenario to a business situation? The same techniques athletes use to perform under pressure allow business leaders to excel in the professional sphere. Here are five top practices by experts that improve both personal health and performance in the workplace:


  1. Adopt a Power Pose
    Before a competition, athletes often stand tall with their shoulders back and the head up. Adopting certain postures improves performance by changing the levels of hormones in the body. Recent research by Dr. Amy Cuddy from the Harvard Business School has shown that adopting a “power pose” increases levels of testosterone, a repair and regeneration hormone, and lowers cortisol, a stress hormone.
  2. Practice Relaxation Breathing
    Stress and tension undermine performance and contribute to the development of chronic, stress-related illnesses. Taking a few deep, relaxing breathing in and exhaling slowly can dramatically change the psychological state and boost performance. Pause and take a few deep, relaxing breaths to regain control of the body and mind.
  3. Focus
    In sports, staying focused is critical for success. We are told that humans find it difficult to focus on ‘multiple things’ at the same time. However, we live in an age of distraction, bombarded by emails, social media and text messages all day long. To perform at personal best, it is critical to find time each day to focus exclusively on only the most important projects and tasks. Aim for at least one hour of such activity each day. Experts also recommend eating healthy while others suggest taking omega 3 supplements for brain function, taking magnesium for concentration, working out daily, and getting 8 hours of sleep a day to keep sharp and energetic all day long.
  4. Hydrate
    Athletes know the importance of hydration to performance. A dehydrated body and brain is sluggish when training and that applies to performance in the office as well. Drinking plenty of water to maintain focus and stamina is crucial. Someone stated in ‘jest’ … we have no problems drinking 8 glasses of wine but we sure have issues doing the same with water!
  5. Be “One Percent Better”
    Athletes who deliver incredible performances show the result of thousands of hours of practice. We can do the same with our food, sleep, exercise, thinking and work. Strive to be ‘one percent’ better each day. This change might not seem like much but those small daily improvements amplify life. It’s like earning compound interest for the body and mind. We can all learn from elite performers in any discipline, even those in areas quite different from our own. Do you have established techniques that you use to perform at your absolute best?

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