The top sports people in the world don’t just work on their bodies but also on their minds. They are well aware that to be the best of the best and perform to the highest level they must train their mental skills such as confidence, concentration, motivation and anxiety control as well as their physical skills.
So why don’t business people do the same? Well the truth is, the top ones do. Take Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella who has introduced the importance of a growth mindset and emotional energy management to all employees.
There is no doubt however that smaller businesses and their owners can gain a huge amount from introducing a form of mental fitness training into their own work week.
Lots of entrepreneurs take business courses when they start their own company and learn the basics of marketing, sales and bookkeeping but what happens if you lack the confidence to pitch your products or services to a room filled with customers or investors? How can you continuously perform to the best of your ability if you lack the concentration required to write business proposals or the motivation to do the work you know you need to get done.
Is it possible that if you introduce the tools used by top sports performers into your business environment you too could enhance your performance?
Here’s a list of the main techniques used by the worlds top sports stars. If you want to improve your business performance so you work smarter, faster and better have a look at them and commit to using a couple of them this week.
1. Set Goals
A great technique for setting goals is the what, why, why not and how approach. Be clear about what your goals are and why they are important for you to achieve. Take some time to analysis the obstacles (the why not) that might get in the way (example – not enough time) and create an action plan (the how) to overcome each obstacle (example – set out a realistic time schedule for tasks).
It is important to set goals in life. I set my to the highest standard I can reach
Usain Bolt – Multiple Olympic Gold medalist
2. Use Mental Rehearsal
Mental rehearsal is also known as imagery or visualisation. It involves using all your senses to create or recreate an event or image in the mind. Using imagery activates your neurological system, which activates your physiological responses. Therefore, imagining something means you are actually strengthening the neural pathways required for that skill and the more likely you are to reproduce it again in the future.
Mental rehearsal is just as important as physical rehearsal
Phil Mickelson – Pro Golfer
Also by mentally practising, you become more familiar with the actions required to perform a skill. These actions can become coded into symbols that make the actions more familiar or automatic. In the same way that atheletes use it to practice and strengthen their sports specific skills it can be used in business to practice the skills including public speaking, pitching ideas and designing how new products or services may work.
3. Control your breathing
Top performers breath slowly and deeply, to calm the body and mind before big events. Taking control of your breathing before important meetings or pitching ideas is a great way to calm the mind and allow you to focus much more clearly on what you need to say and do.
As long as I breathe I will attack
Bernard Hinault – 5 times winner of the Tour De France
4. Create the swagger of a champion
How you move greatly affects your mood. Carry yourself like a champion and you’ll begin to think like a champion.
“There is something about his body language, his arrogant strut as he crosses the tarmac. The thing that strikes you most is the way he carries his chin. High, Godly. It’s a chin that says my name is Michael Schumacher and I am the best driver in the World!”
Irish journalist Paul Kimmage
If you want to affect the way you are thinking in a positive way then start to move with your head high, chin up, eyes forward, shoulders back. Walk into meetings with that little bounce that says, “I am here and this is my time to perform”. Walking the walk, not only tells your mind that you’re confident, but also communicates it to your customers and possible investors.
5. Internal Talk
Self-talk is that internal dialogue you hear when you react to situations and interpret events. Self-talk is something we all do. What we say to ourselves radically affects how we feel and our ability to perform effectively.
When you beat yourself up during a match, you double the amount of opponents on the court
Brad Gilbert – American Tennis Coach
Lots of times when we experience pressure it is due in part to that little voice in our heads that has become negative. Internal voices can be a distraction. start practicing talking to yourself in more constructive ways, if you do not do so already.
The techniques above are the top 5 strategies I use with my sports clients and my business clients. Pick a couple of the techniques above and start practicing them in your business or work life and you will find a difference in your overall performance.
Photo credit: jarmoluk / Pixabay