THE world has just experienced the greatest show of physical, mental, emotional and spiritual excellence, strength and prowess at the London 2012 Olympics.
Some are celebrating heroism while others are coping with heartbreaks.
From my experience as an ex-trainer and choreographer to world and Olympic champion figure skaters, after such events, now is the time the athletes celebrate or heal their wounds, begin to re-focus or reflect and, most of all, re-energise and recover.
How often do you do this in life and at the workplace?
Suppose you adopted one part of the mindset of an elite athlete for a day or longer. What would that look like?
It would probably resemble what entrepreneurs, senior management and employers experience in the business world today.
One major difference, though, is that athletes are mindful of the concept of fully recovering their energy. This is where organisations and individuals tend to fail.
According to authors Jim Loehr and Tony Schwartz, “energy, not time, is the fundamental currency of high performance”.
According to their book The Power Of Full Engagement, you can lead your life or your organisation as if it were a sprint, like Usain Bolt, the fastest sprinter in the world; or a marathon, like Olympic champion S. Kiprotich.
More often than not, businesses today award the gold medal to the person who lasts the longest and produces the most at work.
The fundamental difference is that the individual will burn out faster than the athlete, which creates more stress for himself, his team members and family.
In the long run, the organisation’s productivity and bottom line suffer too.
‘Sprint the Bolt’
If your work requires you to take the fast lane, consider rituals that enable you to “sprint the Bolt”, with a proportionate amount of good stress and strategic recovery breaks:
1. Create a training log
This is what top athletes do. A log helps you to assess how you are spending and recovering your energy — mentally, physically, emotionally and spiritually — every day.
Track everything that you are doing (such as eating, using social media, trawling the Internet, business and pleasure activities, family time, exercise and meetings); the time you start and finish these activities; and how you are feeling (how happy you are, or when fatigue sets in).
You will get a clearer picture of how you are spending your energy. Then you can make some adjustments by creating new rituals that will energise you in your personal life and work.
2. Alternate periods of focused work with breaks
Spend a maximum of 90 to 120 minutes of focused work at your computer, in meetings or working in team activities, then take a well-earned 15-minute “full recovery break”.
“Full recovery” means no business talk, no telephone calls and limited social networking.
Replace these activities with rituals involving quiet time, joking with a friend, reading a book, talking a short walk, eating properly and so on.
You may say: “Oh, I can’t do that, I can multitask. Facebooking or having a quick chat about work doesn’t drain my energy.”
Give the “full recovery” concept a try and see what it does for your energy level and productivity.
3. Flex your emotional and spiritual muscles
Make a conscious effort to be caring, supportive and respectful towards the people around you.
Be true to your values and your vision of what you want to achieve. Put passion into what you do on a daily basis.
This may seem odd at first, but it will start to pay dividends in terms of your quality of life.
This can be the start of thinking and living like an Olympic athlete. To help you achieve Olympic-style excellence, concentrate your strength and effort in well-timed bursts followed by periods of recovering your energy.
Remember the formula: High performance = “sprint the Bolt” (energy) + strategic recovery.