Forge Your Own Path To Greatness

Parallels are often drawn between elite athletes and successful entrepreneurs. The playing fields may be different, but in both worlds the stakes are comparable; competition is fierce, disappointment is a given and the achievement of goals requires an immense amount of discipline and dedication.

For anyone who watched the Tokyo Olympic games, the results of physical hard work, strength, speed, flexibility and endurance are clear, but the mental work that is required of high performing athletes is not always as obvious.

It is this mental resilience that athletes such as Lisa Carrington possess that sets her a class above the rest of the competition, but it is a resilience that must be learned and practiced. The same can be said for successful entrepreneurs and business teams. The process of fortifying teams, building mental resilience and coaching our minds to weather inevitable storms is just as important in the workplace as it is for professional athletes.

When you decide to run your own business you are choosing a path of personal and collective challenge. You will encounter hurdles and barriers that push you to your limits and at times past them. Like athletes, you will go beyond your personal best and you will fall short when expectations are high. The space in between the highs and lows is about endurance and for this reason, entrepreneurs can learn a lot from their sporting counterparts.

A false conception about running a business is the absence of physicality and fatigue. In sports energy is expended in intense blocks at specific times and the commitment to pushing your body to achieve results is obvious. Running for 40kms at 5am or training in the gym for 2 hours might not look the same as working a 16 hour day, but the physical grind of working for yourself can have a huge impact on your mental health.

Conversely, your physical wellbeing has a significant impact on your mental resilience. The two are so intrinsically connected that athletes build rest and recuperation into their schedule, they plan for recovery as a part of their training and rest is regarded as medicinal. Entrepreneurs, business owners and leaders would do well to remember this.

Lack of sleep, stress induced hormones and the absence of downtime can generate as much fatigue as a high intensity game of rugby. The rate of burnout for business owners is a very real threat to productivity and business longevity…not to mention personal wellbeing, so actively scheduling time for recuperation is must. Re-frame your thinking to embrace rest, the goal is not to work less but to take better care of yourself so you can perform at the level you desire for many more years to come.

As we all know, tolerating the losses is a natural part of competing, whether it is in business or sport, failure is part of the journey, but the good news is, it is a temporary condition. Athletes know that losing is a part of the game but it’s what you take away from the experience and the lessons you learn, that will drive your long-term success. In business, we all face rejection, make mistakes and doubt our judgement, especially when you are starting out. At times it may feel like nothing is going to plan, the losses outweigh the wins, and success is a fingertip out of reach, but these defeats are minor when it comes to the big picture.

Take the losses, bank them and the valuable learning they provide and don’t let small defeats consume you. As all successful athletes know, improved performance requires facing and losing to someone better than you and the journey to success isn’t as meaningful if you don’t have the building blocks of failure to reflect on. Losing is daunting but you absolutely need it to win.

So what about your support crew?

We all know about the value of teamwork, but support for the entrepreneur should extend outside the business. Just like coaches, trainers, therapists and nutritionists surround professional athletes, a trusted support crew is essential for anyone running a business. Peak performance is a holistic phenomenon and what happens outside the office and away from the sports field has an enormous impact on success.

Even more important is your emotional and psychological wellbeing. Finding your people and maintaining professional and personal networks provides balance, perspective and valuable insight.

It also offers entrepreneurs and athletes alike an external shield when personal resilience is low.
Knowing when to seek support and who to turn to takes time and effort but is absolutely worth the investment. Finding your crew and keeping them is a collectivist mindset…if Roger Federer needed 7 coaches to achieve peak performance then its fairly safe to assume that most of us will need a few key people in our arsenal.

Whether it is reframing your mindset to embrace failure, improving your interaction with your support crew, utilising a set of resilience techniques or simply building recovery time into your schedule, there is much for business owners to learn from the achievements of successful athletes.

While the sports industry has been actively prioritising mental agility for decades, it is time businesses and entrepreneurs prioritise mental wellbeing. A great first step to re-frame your thinking and build resilience is by completing qualifications in mental health first aid. Skills taught in this 2 day programme gives business owners the cornerstone of mental agility skills that are as important in business as they are in professional sport.

For more information, please visit Mental Health First Aid NZ

Check out our Other Blogs:

xmas holiday

Build up to the Christmas holidays

The lead up to Christmas can be an exceptionally stressful time in the building industry. There is mounting pressure to complete projects, increased demands from clients, and expectation to do longer days and weekend work.

people connecting

The Power of Connection

Over the last three editions, we looked at some of the key elements to daily functioning, sleep, breathing and physical care. So, what else is there? What brings all this together and gives it purpose? Connection.

physical care

The Fundamentals of Physical Care

Welcome to part three of our four-part journey on daily functioning. In the previous two Inhouse magazine editions we talked about the importance of a good night’s sleep and how to create good breathing habits.