The Corporate Athlete


The Corporate Athlete

What is it that really makes someone professionally great? Is it a healthy workplace, the individual’s emotional intelligence or his/ her spiritual strength?

These three factors are key to achieving workplace success, but they are not enough. To make the success complete and enduring, one has to consider and implement the concept of self-care.

This means that every individual can survive and thrive in high-stress work environments by nourishing not only the mind and spirit but also the body. Physical excellence is equally crucial for great professional success.

What is the Concept of Corporate Athlete?

Tony Schwartz and Jim Loehr introduced the concept of the Corporate Athlete. The concept was developed after a study of winning athletes for several decades. They studied how and why such athletes were successful and what made them deliver a winning performance consistently.

The duo then applied its study findings to the field of business. It was found that the work pressures that employees face on any typical day is no less than the stress faced by elite athletes. In fact, a workforce faces more stress than professional athletes.

The study goes on to state the following to explain how employees face a lot more stress than high-performing athletes:

  • Professional athletes spend 90% of their time training for their sport. They spend only 10% of their time on the actual sport.
  • Professional athletes’ self-care routine includes Olympic-grade nutrition, sleep, exercise regimen and professional mental support.
  • Professional athletes have a 4- to 5-month “off-season” period, depending upon their sport type, to rejuvenate themselves.
  • They enjoy a 5- to 10-year career span on an average. The savings they make through their career lasts them for a lifetime.

On the contrary, employees, also referred to as the Corporate Athletes:

  • Spend 90% of the time on work performance. The remaining 10% may be spent on career-oriented training
  • Cultivate poor diet and sleep habits following work demands, and experience high stress levels, most of the time
  • Their off-season is limited to a very few weeks. They check their work emails and attend phone calls related to work even during the off-season
  • They are expected to work for 40 to 50 years on an average without taking any real time-break in this career span

(Source: The Power of Full Management book, as published on LinkedIn)

The study concluded that a combination of physical, mental, emotional and spiritual wellness is what makes a person excel, be it at the workplace or on the sports field. The key to achieving this winning combination is to manage one’s energy and not time, which is only a limited resource.

How Can One Become a Corporate Athlete?

  • Focusing on building one’s physical, emotional, mental and spiritual capacities is key to becoming a Corporate Athlete.
  • Increase your Physical Strength through Daily Routines

This is fundamental because only a sound body is capable of nourishing a strong mind and spirit. Nutritious food and regular exercise are key to achieving good physical capacity and peak performance.

A few key ways that help maintain a sound physical condition consistently include:

  • Making workout a part of lifestyle so that it becomes a routine and unavoidable
  • Ensuring a healthy protein-rich breakfast
  • Avoiding or limiting intake of coffee and sugary snacks
  • Setting healthy boundaries to relationships at workplaces and off them so that you have adequate time for yourself. For example, you could discuss with your husband to have him pick your children from school while you visit the gym
  • Establishing a supportive environment. For example, you could ask one of your teammates to be your workout buddy, or you could request their help to make you stick to a nutritious diet
  • Taking small breaks for every 90 to 120 minutes at work
  • Ensuring a good night’s sleep

Practice Maintaining a Positive State of Mind

According to the study by Jim and Tony, winning athletes used positive words such as “confident”, “calm”, “focused”, and “optimistic” when asked to describe their state of mind before the event.

A positive state of mind is a great facilitator of peak performance. A negative state of mind that harbors resentment, anger, fear and impatience, drains one’s energy and turns toxic in the long run. Over time, such negative state of mind can lead to vision problems, increased muscle tension, high blood pressure, all leading to reduced performance at work.

The following techniques can help develop positive emotions and thus a more positive state of mind:

  • Manage stress and resulting negative emotions by building an exercise routine.
  • Becoming more aware of one’s emotions, especially negative emotions. For example, increase in heart rate, physical tension and a tightness in the chest are often symptoms of negative emotions such as fear and anxiety.

By becoming aware of the signals, you can lower the impact of such emotions on the body. Once you recognize the signals, take deep breaths to slow down yourself, think and then speak. Practicing empathy is also key to building a better state of mind.

  • Use body language that reflects positive emotions. In other words, acting confident can eventually lead to being confident.
  • Devote time to important relationships in your life. Such relationships enable you to overcome the burden of stress that can otherwise consume you.

Build your Mental Strength Consistently

A stronger mind is crucial to develop focus. It is also necessary to acquire skillsets essential to reach greater heights in your career.

Some techniques to build a stronger mind include:

  • Practicing meditation calms the mind and helps you manage your reaction to internal and external stress. Meditation also helps the body recover its energy for further action.
  • Investing in skills such as time management, improving concentration, and critical thinking can ease your stress.
  • Training yourself to let the mind be. Activities such as jogging, gardening or doing something that you love, help you relax and let your mind be. Allow thoughts to enter your mind freely. Such activities can trigger creative output.
  • Visualise. Thinking about the result you want to achieve and visualizing it consistently breaks distractions and narrows down your focus to your goal. This process builds your mental stamina, enabling you to truly achieve your goal.

Know your True Purpose

Spiritual strength refers to your core values and the purpose on the basis of which you function in life. Your spiritual core can be your greatest source of strength during periods of adversity. Your spiritual core can serve as your source of motivation, focus and determination, during such times.

Some ways to keep your spiritual core alive include:

  • Make time for introspection. Praying, meditation, and journal-writing are some ways to connect with yourself and understand what is truly important to you.
  • Commit yourself to a bigger cause. Community service, participating in fund-raising, adopting a stray pet, are some examples of such activities. They divert your focus from stress and unnecessary worries to meaningful activities.

As demands for better performance and output continue to increase, companies cannot afford to focus on training their employees for building their technical skills alone. They need to urgently focus on building their workforce’s emotional, physical, mental and spiritual capacities as well.

Pinnacle Wellbeing Services can be your best partner in this endeavor. Our Corporate Services program focuses on holistic coaching that builds the body, mind and spirit. Our experienced professionals offer leadership training as well as practical psychology training that builds a workforce capable of self management.

Visit our website for more information.

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