What could you do if you were able to optimise your performance and increase your productivity – so that you felt satisfied and the end of each day?
What could you accomplish and how great would you feel? And how much could you enhance your performance if you increased your capabilities on a regular basis?
Elite athletes have been richly blessed with athletic prowess, agility, and endurance; however, the levels at which they consistently perform far exceed any gifts they’ve been given. They have developed the types of routines, motivation, and expectations that push them to be champions.
How can the behaviours of these elite athletes translate to your own home, business, and lifestyle? What can you learn that you can take with you every day, for award-worthy daily performances, as well as a happy and fulfilled future? I’m so glad you’ve asked.
Play like an Elite Athlete, Every Day
Whether you’re hoping to improve your performance in one area of leadership, or multiple, use these standards of excellence that every elite athlete relies on for success:
Focus: Distractions are #1 on the list of negative influences that can steal momentum from goal achievement. Post your goals, both short-term and long-term in a place that you’ll encounter them regularly (by your bedside, on your screensaver, on your desk), and then only start and complete tasks that will move you closer to those goals. Anything else is a waste of time.
Training and Conditioning: Success is only possible with preparation. Develop your learning mind-set and supply yourself with the training that will push you and your team toward that success. Then develop a system to ensure that you are cycling through that training. Every day, review your goals and adjust to meet upcoming demands. The most successful people are those who have put in the hours, conditioning themselves for success. They become masters at what they do and they make it look easy. Think of the skill of David Beckham and the mother of gymnastics, Olga Korbut.
Get a Coach or Mentor: It can be difficult to focus on doing all the right things if you’re not sure what “all the right things” are. An outside-looking-in perspective is necessary for making critical adjustments—those that will make your path straighter and all of your focus and training more influential. Feedback is often called the breakfast of champions, and developing the skill of being able to accept and digest feedback will evolve your performance like nothing else. Even the most focussed, well-trained leader can improve his game with the help of a coach or mentor. Take it from Tec executives Steve Jobs, Bill Hewlett and David Packard, top designer Yves St Laurent and the fastest man on earth, Usain Bolt.
Rest: An empty well cannot give water. When it’s been overused, and is dry, it will need time to replenish itself. Reduce the need for long periods of forced and untimely replenishment (i.e. due to burn out) by allowing yourself small, refreshing, regular respites. This will keep your energy level high, so you are better able to perform consistently. Google, Apple, Volvo, eBay and Starbucks are among top-performing companies that have integrated replenishing practices, such as mindfulness, in the workplace.
Teamwork: No elite athlete, successful business owner, manager, or leader can honestly say that she achieved her success without support, help, and encouragement from others. High achievement is a team objective. Share knowledge and learn from your peers and your staff. Participate in mutual motivation and support for each person, no matter their place in their own journey. Reciprocity will ensue—the more encouragement team members receive, the more they will feel compelled to give. Respect all contributions and see the value in difference. Notice how, in turn, you gain respect.
Productive Solitude: Successful people in all realms are able to not only take full responsibility for their outcomes, they are able to turn inward for the strength and incentive necessary for winning. They gather the courage to step out of the box or into the ring on their own, with the understanding that they are ultimately accountable for their own success or failure. This does not negate the need for teamwork; both are integral to success. “Talent wins games, but teamwork and intelligence win championships” — Michael Jordan
Strength Emphasis: In business, there’s lots of talk about marketing your business’s most unique quality. In many ways, elite athletes and leaders must do this, too. Determine what you can do best and what is most unlike the competition, and then monopolise on that characteristic. You will stand out from the crowd—which will supply you with the awareness necessary to gain support. Run your own race—don’t try to match Bolt’s stride pattern when you’re not 6 feet, 5 inches tall.
Body Nourishment and Maintenance: No matter if your most important tool is your body or your mind, you will need to feed it well and maintain a healthful physique. This concept is understood for athletes; however, did you know that all types of leaders must be in good physical shape? Mind affects body and body affects mind, so nourish and move both your body and your mind. Diet and exercise contribute to factors such as stress levels, immune function, alertness, energy levels, quality of sleep, performance ability…and each one has the power to make or break your achievement level.
Resilience: Elite athletes are more likely to come back from injury than average athletes. Why? Because they overcome negative beliefs. They understand that fear is a function that tries to protect them, but will never result in success. They also recognise that pain and failure are tools not intended to crush them, but to build them up…to make them stronger. They tap into the support and expertise around them to help them to rehabilitate themselves. Many athletes come back stronger.
Think about double Olympic gold medallist Dame Kelly Holmes, or rugby star Jonny Wilkinson.
Values or Beliefs: No matter what you choose to call it, every successful person has a conviction system that speaks to her, motivates her, and makes her want to succeed. Define yours. Revisit it often. Remind yourself, often, of your WHY.
Desire to Perform: The hardest workers—the most prepared leaders—are the ones who want to show what they’ve accomplished. Elite athletes put in the work, using performance dates as goal markers. When well-prepared, they welcome pressure and excel using their responses to it. And when they are equipped to perform (no matter if it’s a game, public speaking, an interview, or a presentation), they are more likely to take risks (i.e. succeed).
Recognition of Phases: No matter the goal, great athletes, leaders, and achievers always recognise and label their current phase as either preparation or recovery. Both are necessary. Both are part of the cycle of accomplishment. Both must be given attention in order for the cycle to be complete.
Are you feeling more motivated? More prepared to share the mind-set of an elite athlete for attainment of your own personal and business goals?
And are you ready to put this wisdom into action? For one-to-one or group support, email firstname.lastname@example.org or contact us to learn more about current training programmes by The Performance Circle.