Athletics for the Mind
Exercise is a valuable tool for many reasons. It reduces your risk of major diseases and increases your life expectancy, as well as making you look and feel better. However, an often neglected benefit is the effect it can have on the mind. We all know that working out can make you happier, but what about making you sharper?
It turns out there is a strong relationship between athletics and leadership skills. Given the parallels between the exercise world and the business world, there is much that business leaders and athletes can learn from each other.
Common ground between athletes and leaders
So, what do leaders and athletes have in common? The determination to succeed, the ability to learn from failure and a dedication to training. Just as athletes need to train their body for their sport, leaders need to train their mind for their job.
Think of the mind the same as any muscle. In order to improve, it needs to be worked. It needs hours of refining in many different ways. Successful athletes don’t do just one exercise. Usain Bolt doesn’t only run when he trains – he uses other exercises to improve different areas of his technique.
The same goes for the mind. Leadership is developed via a myriad of experiences, tests, techniques and failures.
Strengthening your mental muscles
Mindfulness is a simple way to train the mind wherever you are. Think of it as a gym you can take with you. Even better, this gym can transform you into an effective and confident leader in the workplace.
A key component of strong leadership is planning and managing. A disorganised leader is an unsuccessful one. Mindfulness gives you the tools to organise your own life, as well as your business. By paying more attention to the present moment, you can better control your emotions and thoughts – an important skill for handling stressful situations.
Mindfulness is not only a way to improve yourself, but also a way to help others. Increasing your awareness of the situations you find yourself in will help you recognise the ways your actions impact others. A good leader is not only stern and strong, but also empathetic and understanding. This is key to keeping morale high.
Training your mind for success
As you can see, success both in the workplace and on the track are driven by very similar attributes: dedication, determination and awareness.
Athletes and leaders alike need to cope well under stress, listen to others and understand what’s going on around them as it happens. They also need to learn new skills and refine their craft.
While athletes do this in the gym, leaders do this in the mind.