“In baseball and in business, there are three types of people. Those who make it happen, those who watch it happen, and those who wonder what happened.” – Tommy Lasorda, Hall of Fame baseball player and manager (1954-1956, player; 1976-1996, manager)
There is a lot to be said for committing the time and energy it takes to be an athlete. Many people grow up engaging in athletics at various levels. Whether or not they reach the highest levels of athletic competition is irrelevant because there are essential life lessons to be gained from participating in athletics.
While there is a multitude of arenas one can acquire important life lessons, athletics serve to challenge the physical and mental psyche of its participants. This doesn’t infer that only athletes understand physical and mental obstacles, but that athletes have the unique test of overseeing both, often simultaneously, and amidst other teammates and competitors.
Athletes undergo a lot of strenuous demands on the mind and body. This level of stress, assuming it is healthy, aids to benefit the athlete in other areas outside the sphere of competition. Essentially, what an athlete acquires in terms of knowledge, skills, and abilities coupled with what is amassed intangibly, arms the individual with “life” qualities that have the potential of contributing to enduring success in any field.Advertising
It’s important to remember that this list isn’t an attempt to generalize all athletes. It is merely a personal belief that athletics have a very positive effect on participants who take full advantage of them.
1. Athletes are disciplined and have strong work ethics.
Unless a particular athlete is blessed with raw, athleticism and talent, which equates to complete domination over the competition, athletes have to dedicate themselves to honing their crafts. It is also noteworthy that many of the greatest athletes possess immense natural ability which is complemented by an intense work ethic. And as the motivational quote states, “Hard work beats talent when talent doesn’t work hard.”
Employers desire employees who are disciplined and know what it takes to work hard. Athletes possess both of these necessary qualities or they probably wouldn’t have become athletes in the first place.
2. Athletes know what it means to fail, persevere, and overcome adversity.
Anyone who participates in athletics will at some point encounter obstacles. Athletics are a great metaphor for life. There are ebbs and flows to an athlete’s performances and experiences on the field or court. This is similar to life.Advertising
An athlete will fail at one time or another during the scope of competition. At this point the athlete has only two options: give up or persevere. Most athletes will choose to work through and conquer the impediments before them so they can achieve the goals they have set for themselves. Athletics offer a unique opportunity for athletes to learn how to fail gracefully and persist patiently.
3. Athletes are goal-oriented.
While many athletes are involved in their sports simply for the “love of the sport,” there is often something else that motivates and inspires them. Athletes excel at setting goals, pursuing those goals through training and nutrition mediums, and eventually accomplishing their objectives. This skill is very useful in the workforce where setting goals is critical for any successful business.
4. Athletes usually know how to work as a member of a team.
I write usually here because not all athletes are involved in team sports. While the majority of athletes participate as members of a team there are some who perform sports that are individual in nature.
Given the large proportion of athletes who are involved in team sports it would behoove any employer who seeks willing and effective “team players” to hire athletes. Teamwork and learning how to be a competent teammate are ingrained into athletes’ psyches from the time they first engage in athletics.Advertising
5. Athletes know how to lead.
At some point during athletic competition an athlete has to be a leader. Whether this is vocally or through action, athletes acquire the necessary skills to lead.
Leading doesn’t merely occur during the heat of competitions; athletes lead by the way they train and take care of their bodies; they lead by the way they treat their teammates and coaches; and perhaps most importantly they lead by the way they represent themselves, their team, and their sports on and off the arena.
Not all athletes are charismatic or even desirable leaders, but somewhere inside they have acquired the capabilities to lead. Working with other people on a daily basis in pursuit of a common goal forces you to learn how to lead. In the end it is a matter of whether or not they are willing to use those abilities to the fullest.
6. Athletes know how to accept criticism.
At one point or another any athlete will receive criticism, constructive or otherwise, from a coach. If an athlete is unwilling to accept this criticism, than he or she is probably not going to last long in athletics.Advertising
Just like athletes learns how to accept failures and work through them, they must also learn how to accept criticism. Realizing that their coaches are looking out for their best interests makes accepting criticism more manageable.
Employers want employees who aren’t going to shut down every instance they are criticized. Athletes are often “thick-skinned” and able to handle critiques more fluidly.
7. Athletes know how to learn a new skill and utilize it.
One of the most important components of being a competent employee is the ability to learn a new skill and utilize it. All athletes must undergo some kind of skill development in order to sustain their athletic performances.
Athletes strive strenuously to hone their skills in order to make themselves the most complete asset for their specific sport. Equipped with voracious work ethics, and the desire to master their skills, many athletes ultimately breed themselves for success on and off the playing field. And many of the skills athletes whet will pale in comparison to the skills they learn in the workforce.
Featured photo credit: Kemba Walker via cdn-jpg.si.com
Last Updated on October 22, 2019
How to Focus and Concentrate Better to Boost Productivity
We live in a world of massive distraction. No matter where you are today, there is always going to be distractions. Your colleagues talking about their latest date, notification messages popping up on your screens, and not just your mobile phone screens. And even if you try to find a quiet place, there will always be someone with a mobile device that is beeping and chirping.
With all these distractions, it is incredibly difficult to concentrate on anything for very long. Something will distract you and that means you will find it very difficult to focus on anything.
So how to focus and concentrate better? How to focus better and produce work that lifts us and takes us closer towards achieving our outcomes?
1. Get Used to Turning off Your Devices
Yes, I know this one is hard for most people. We believe our devices are so vital to our lives that the thought of turning them off makes us feel insecure. The reality is they are not so vital and the world is not going to end within the next thirty minutes.
So turn them off. Your battery will thank you for it. More importantly though is when you are free from your mobile distraction addiction, you will begin to concentrate more on what needs to get done.
You do not need to do this for very long. You could set a thirty-minute time frame for being completely mobile free. Let’s say you have an important piece of work to complete by lunchtime today. Turn off your mobile device between 10 am and 11 am and see what happens.
If you have never done this before, you will feel very uncomfortable at first. Your brain will be fighting you. It will be telling you all sorts of horror stories such as a meteorite is about to hit earth, or your boss is very angry and is trying to contact you. None of these things is true, but your brain is going to fight you. Prepare yourself for the fight.
Over time, as you do this more frequently, you will soon begin to find your brain fights you less and less. When you do turn on your device after your period of focused work and discover that the world did not end, you have not lost an important customer and all you have are a few email newsletters, a confirmation of an online order you made earlier and a text message from your mum asking you to call about dinner this weekend, you will start to feel more comfortable turning things off.
2. Create a Playlist in Your Favourite Music Streaming App
Many of us listen to music using some form of music streaming service, and it is very easy to create our own playlists of songs. This means we can create playlists for specific purposes.
Many years ago, when I was just starting to drive, there was a trend selling driving compilation tapes and CDs. The songs on these tapes and CDs were uplifting driving music songs. Songs such as C W McCall’s Convoy theme and the Allman Brothers Band’s, Jessica. They were great songs to drive to and helped to keep us awake and focused while we were driving.
Today, we can create playlists to help us to focus on our work. Choose non-vocal music that has a low tempo. Music from artists such as Ben Böhmer, Ilan Bluestone or Andrew Bayer has the perfect tempo.
Whenever you want to go into deep, focused work, listen to that playlist. What happens is your brain soon associates when you listen to the playlist you created with focused work and it’s time to concentrate on what it is you want to do.
3. Have a Place to Go to When You Need to Concentrate
If you eat, surf online and read at your desk, you will find your desk a very distracting place to do your work. One way to get your brain to understand it is focused work time is, to use the same place each time for just focused work.
This could be a quiet place in your office, or it could be a special coffee shop you use specifically for focused work. Again, what you are doing is associating an environment with focus.
Just as with having a playlist to listen to when you want to concentrate, having a physical place that accomplishes the same thing will also put you in the right frame of mind to be more focused.
When you do find the right place to do your focused work, then only do focused work there. Never surf, never do any online shopping. Just do your work and then leave. You want to be training your brain to associate focused work with that environment and nothing else.
If you need to make a phone call, respond to an email or message, then go outside and do it. From now on, this place is your special working place and that is all you use it for.
Every morning, I do fifteens minutes of meditation. Each time, I sit down to do my meditation, I use the same music playlist and the same place. As soon as I put my earphones in and sit down in this place, my mind immediately knows it is meditation time and I become relaxed and focused almost immediately. I have trained my brain over a few months to associate a sound and a place with relaxed, thoughtful meditation. It works.
4. Get up and Move
We humans have a limited attention span. How long you can stay focused for depends on your own personal makeup. It can range from between twenty minutes to around two hours. With practice, you can stay focused for longer, but it takes time and it takes a lot of practice.
When you do find yourself being unable to concentrate any longer, get up from where you are and move. Go for a walk, move around and get some air. Do something completely different from what you were doing when you were concentrating.
If you were writing a report in front of a screen, get away from your screens and look out the window and appreciate the view. Take a walk in the local park, or just walk around your office. You need to give your brain completely different stimuli.
Your brain is like a muscle. There is only so much it can do before it fatigues. If you are doing some focused work in Photoshop and then switch to surfing the internet, you are not giving your brain any rest. You are still using many of the same parts of your brain.
It’s like doing fifty pushups and then immediately trying to do bench presses. Although you are doing a different exercise, you are still exercising your chest. What you need to be doing to build up superior levels of concentrated focus is, in a sense, do fifty pushups and then a session of squats. Now you are exercising your chest and then your legs. Two completely different exercises.
Do the same with your brain. Do focused visual work and then do some form of movement with a different type of work. Focused visual work followed by a discussion with a colleague about another unrelated piece of work, for example.
The Bottom Line
It is not difficult to train your brain to become better at concentrating and focusing, but you do need to exercise deliberate practice. You need to develop the intention to focus and be very strict with yourself.
Set time aside in your calendar and make sure you tell your colleagues that you will be ‘off the grid’ for a couple of hours. With practice and a little time, you will soon find yourself being able to resist temptations and focus better.
More Resources About Boosting Focus and Productivity
- Can’t Focus? Why You’ve Been Doing It Wrong and How to Focus Better
- 17 Ways Deep Work Will Help Wipe Out Modern Distractions and Refocus
- Easily Distracted and Hard to Focus? Try Doing This
- How to Stop Multitasking and Become Way More Productive
Featured photo credit: Wenni Zhou via unsplash.com