Corporate Athlete or Company Tool?

Wanna be a better Salesperson …. be a better Person !!
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Before recent advancements in sports science, the elite athletes’ coping strategies were limited. The approach was typically to push harder, train longer and not allow time for recovery. The same approach holds true for employees today who work harder, longer and without sufficient recovery, just to get the job done. Often ‘just getting the job done’, can be at the expense of our happiness and personal lives. Who has time for beach walking, music lessons, painting – oh the lazy people do – not me, I’m a hard worker ! There has to be a better way!!!

For elite athletes, the outcome was often anxiety, depression, injury and other symptoms of stress. For 54% of American workers, the outcome is disengagement from work (according to research conducted by the Gallup Organization, 2010) and similar symptoms of stress, anxiety, depression, injury, and lack of focus. The results are shortened careers and lifelong health issues for athletes. For today’s employees the outcome is burnout as well as both physical and emotional health issues.

Sports science has combined the disciplines of exercise physiology, nutrition, psychology, biomechanics, motor learning, and sports medicine and its application has resulted in an incredible progression in athletic performance during the last 40 years. Athletes are typically bigger, faster, stronger and more emotionally resilient. They don’t beat themselves; they eat better and recapture energy quickly to perform well the next day.

Progress in sports science has been founded on three important discoveries:

1. Multidimensionality: optimal performance is reliant on not just the physical dimension but also the emotional, mental and purpose (the why of our lives) dimensions
2. Recovery: enhanced techniques to recapture energy
3. Periodization: breaking up training and competition into manageable work/rest periods to allow enduring high performance

Applying these sports science principles, employees of the future should see themselves as multidimensional and ensure that they get adequate recovery in each dimension. Chronic stress, that is stress without recovery, can lead to health complications and impact performance – just like an athlete. We and our team members need to replenish energy in the form of sleep, hydration, nutrition and physical activity.

In addition, we need periodization. That is, balancing work with rest. Rest includes those activities we enjoy, soccer games, connecting with neighbors and reading. For example, taking short breaks during the day, disconnecting from work on weekends and truly enjoying earned vacation time. Intentional downtime, even as short as 1-2 minutes, enables us to come back stronger when we get to work. Focus on work only happens when we have the mindset, emotions and energy to do the work. Businesses that take a page from the world of sports science and deploy a multidimensional approach to employee performance will improve productivity, innovation and engagement.

People ask me a lot about ‘balance of life’.  There is no balance of time – we will always spend more time at work.  And the phrase balance of life is negative as it says to our bosses, they will get less work out of us than what they are paying. I say – we need to be 100% engaged at work and 100% engaged at home. Everyone says “I don’t have enough time” and that is not going to change. How we manage our energy is everything to making satisfying choices and gaining real meaning in the quality of our efforts. Our issue is not how much time we put in, and our leaders, spouses and kids, don’t expect more time – they expect more quality from us in the limited time we have. That requires eating, exercising, and sleeping with a plan to build energy and become the best parent and employee for our greater achievements, happiness and meaningfulness to come.

Life is not a marathon;  it’s a series of short sprints!


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