CAREER ATHLETEApr 25, 2022
What do a vast number of CEOs have in common?
95% of them were athletes.
And this is true across the board, including for women holding high-level executive positions, according to an EY study. The study found that a whopping 96% of women holding a C-Suite position are former or current athletes.
There’s no doubt about it; athleticism and business success go hand in hand.
That’s why many organizations tend to look for athleticism when recruiting and even implement programs to awaken the inner athlete in their employees.
So, in this blog, we’ll take a closer look at what career athleticism is, why it’s so crucial for your career, and how you can become a career athlete.
What Is Career Athleticism?
Athletes continuously strive to excel and constantly push themselves to the limit. They train relentlessly to defy their body’s limits, and there’s no end to the effort they put in because they believe there is no limit to what they can achieve. And contrary to popular belief, athletes don’t only focus on their bodies. They also learn techniques to develop mental focus, which allows them to get into the so-called ‘’zone’’ and reach peak performance. They develop a growth mindset trying to constantly learn, develop and improve their mental skills and physical performance. Athletes know that mind, body, and soul are all connected and that the whole is bigger than the sum of its parts.
Now, what does this have to do with Career Athleticism?
A career athlete constantly seeks to learn, improve, develop, and push their limits, adopting the same mindset as successful athletes to excel in their careers. Their actions are driven by the desire for growth. And to reach success, they combine the power of their mind, body, and soul to excel and inspire others to do the same. The only difference to an athlete is that instead of being paid to achieve a physical performance, their goal is to contribute to the company’s success.
Why Is Career Athleticism So Important To Your Career Success?
Career athleticism is not just a new buzzword or a pretty concept. It’s a holistic approach to your career that can help you fulfill your dreams and thrive professionally and personally.
Becoming a career athlete means adopting a growth mindset and consistently training your mind to perform better while also looking after your body and nourishing your soul.
Looking after your soul, body, and mind will allow you to get the energy you need to develop, grow and push your limits in order to accomplish your ultimate goals.
Take me, for example.
A few years ago, I got married to the love of my life. We then had two beautiful children together. I had a nice career, and I lived in my favorite city, New York. From the outside, it looked like I was living the dream.
But the reality is that, on the inside, I was drowning.
Don’t get me wrong; I was grateful for my life. Yet, I felt like my job, and my new role as a mother of two was sucking all of my energy. I became overwhelmed and felt unable to perform at my best, whether as an HR leader, a mother, or a wife. It felt like a tennis ball in a tennis game, hit back and forth with no control over the situation. For years, I did my best to keep up with appearances. I would come to work every day, do my best to fulfill my basic work obligations and duties, only to come home exhausted and try to enjoy the short time I had with my kids. But deep inside, I was overwhelmed and irritated by the constant pressure I felt of being a super mom, juggling a career and family life. My only goal during the week was to reach the weekend to recharge.
One day, I decided I had enough to tolerate being mediocre. I realized that all the energy I was putting on tolerating the mediocre and being comfortably numb, could have been put to creating the life I really wanted.
I was capable of it, I just had to figure out how.
So, I started to do some research on common traits successful people shared and how they would achieve their goals. Many of my research led me to athletes.
Now, I was never an athlete myself, but I wondered why athletes were so successful and how they managed to reach peak performance, especially after a setback. And I found the answer. Athletes are not only passionate about their game but they are foremost excited to excel. In order to do so, they are committed to master their craft and find ways to optimize both, their bodies and minds, to achieve excellence. The combination of talent, energizing set of habits, and a strong commitment to being better every day is what allows them to perform at their best. So, even though I wasn’t an athlete, I decided to adapt the lifestyle and mindset of an athlete and just like them, apply a growth mindset to anything I do.
Needless to say, this holistic approach to life was a breakthrough. After a rocky start (yes, my friends - you can bet that my body and mind were resisting my decision at first!!), this new way of living changed E-V-E-R-Y-T-H-I-N-G. On the work front, my confidence skyrocketed, and I became the go-to person to generate out-of-the-box ideas for the organization. My consistent high performance was even acknowledged by a surprise promotion! But more importantly, at home, I was finally able to let go of that constant pressure to be a super mom and just allow myself to be present with my kids and cherish every part of their personalities. Finally, I was constantly engaged and energized in my work and in my personal life.
And guess what?
I am now looking forward to Mondays as well as Fridays!
How Can You Become a Career Athlete?
No, there’s no magic formula to becoming a career athlete and thriving in both your personal and professional life. However, here are some traits successful athletes possess that are necessary to becoming a career athlete in a corporate environment, and I believe you can learn to develop and cultivate:
In adversity, athletes never give up. Just like a knocked-down boxer will always strive to get back on their feet, athletes always strive to turn things around and succeed. In the corporate world, athletes tackle obstacles with the same determination. No matter what life throws at them, they never give up and always look for ways to overcome challenges.
Learning from Failure
It’s inevitable, when playing sports, someone always loses. Athletes know that there’s always a risk they’ll lose and learn, early on, how to channel any setback to fuel their growth and future performance. And just like athletes do when playing sports, in the midst of adversity, the best employees will reflect on their failures, develop a plan of action and implement it to move forward. They’ll use their past experiences to improve each time.
Teamwork is one of the basic skills athletes learn when playing sports. For a sports team to succeed, each athlete needs to do their part and learn to delegate responsibilities to reach common goals together. And athletes are so devoted to their sports that they’ll always act in the team's best interest. In fact, they’ll consistently place the team’s interest before their own. For instance, they’ll give up their weekends to attend practice or find sponsorship for their clubs.
The best employees will uphold the same sense of commitment to team goals. They’ll stay up late to help colleagues meet a deadline or spend a weekend assisting a new recruit with a project if it benefits the team or organization.
And they’ll also understand the importance of delegating. That’s because, great employees know that teams that collaborate well can accomplish great things together.
Energizing Daily Routine
A daily routine is key for athletes to reach peak performance. But why is it so important?
Because it helps them optimize each of their training sessions, and provide their bodies with the level of physical and mental energy they need to perform. And it also prevents them from having to spend energy making unimportant decisions.
Daily habits are equally important for career success. Creating a routine is essential to avoid being overwhelmed because it provides a structure, and reduces the need to plan. This allows the best employees to build momentum and to focus their energy on their performance and their goals.
Strong confidence is what separates great athletes from the rest. An athlete can’t reach their full potential without a strong sense of confidence in their ability to execute their game. While many think that having confidence is solely the result from past experiences, there is a different kind of confidence that truly inspires greatness. It’s that inner confidence that comes from being aware and conscious of one’s power and/or ability to control one’s circumstances.
This inner confidence is what you need in your career success as well. Building this inspiring confidence creates a sense that you can achieve that big audacious goal you put your mind to. It provides you with a deep sense of self-worth and the belief that you have more than enough to make a difference.
That's a wrap!
Adopting an athlete's mindset and lifestyle changed my life, and I truly believe that a holistic approach to personal and professional development is the only way to succeed in the most fulfilling and sustainable way. That’s why I am so passionate about my work, and I am committed to bring more career athletes in the corporate world. If you feel like your team and organization is lacking energy, motivation or engagement, don’t hesitate to get in touch.