From the Track to the Boardroom: Strategies for an Executive Athlete

An organisation is only as healthy as its employees, and to thrive under the harsh and unforgiving conditions of today’s business world, busy executives
need to think like athletes. Olympic champions prepare for major events in a holistic manner, combining technical, tactical, physical and mental training.
For executives, this approach offers important lessons that they can leverage to achieve a competitive advantage at work.

Organisations desire sustainable success, and one of the best ways to work towards this is to positively develop employees and boost their job satisfaction.
A Jackson Organization study found
that companies that make their staff feel appreciated make more than three times the returns compared to companies that do not. On the flip side, amid
never-ending to-do lists, soaring expectations and insufficient resources, nothing erodes morale and engagement faster than exhausted and overworked

Borrowing lessons learnt from my work as a sport psychologist, here are some adapted strategies to help executives tackle the challenges of the workplace
and thrive like champions.

  1. Elite athletes have coaches whom they rely on. In fact, some say it also takes a village to raise a champion. So go out there and assemble a support team – people who are not afraid to be honest and share what’s on their mind. However, for this support team to be effective, you have to be prepared
    to take in their opinions. And remember that you still are responsible for your own executive decisions.
  2. One of the best ways to identify where you have room for improvement is by watching yourself at work. A major trend in high-end performance
    involves quantifying and analysing everything, from brain waves to sweat rate to heart rate variability. Elite athletes frequently use video clips
    to break down their own performances. It’s humbling, sometimes funny and very effective. So go ahead, record and review your next trial presentation.
  3. True masters never stop working on their craft. Stephen Curry has an MVP jump shot, yet he still works on his game relentlessly. The very process of
    getting better is just as important as winning medals. Explore what future skills are trending and take the initiative to upgrade your capabilities by attending courses and workshops. With the extensive library of massive open online courses (MOOCs) offered by websites such as Coursera and
    EdX, there are no excuses not to be learning.
  4. The effective application of periodisation makes or breaks a champion. In other words, there is a time to strive and a time to rest. Perhaps that’s
    why LeBron James has started making movies in the summer off-season. The fact is the rest is a crucial part of self-improvement, not just the striving.
    So if you are serious about raising your game in the workplace, remember that less is more and take a 5-minute break for every
    60 minutes of intense concentration.

The rules of the working world have evolved and these days more is required to raise the bar. Athletes and corporate executives share much in common and
many strategies for success are equally applicable on the field and in the boardroom. Achieving and sustaining high performance is about finding a
support team, embracing a growth mindset, and having the discipline to pause, reflect and review. Are you ready to take your performance to the next


This coming March, we are launching a new 4-Weeks Mindfulness to Flow training program, aimed to help busy executives prepare and train like champions. For more information to sign up, visit  


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