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  • Writer's pictureJonathan Bullock

What athletes can teach us about how to excel at challenging tasks

I've always been impressed by the tenacity and dedication of top athletes, no matter which sport they practise.

In my opinion, there's one thing that both entrepreneurs and athletes have in common: they're both trying to do something really difficult.

Three things that you as a business leader can takeaway from all top professional athletes are how they approach teamwork, mindset and determination.

Teamwork: Even though running is a relatively solo activity, athletes train with others and emphasise the significance of having a team around them. This serves as an excellent reminder that carrying out difficult tasks requires an entire team. Who is in your 'running group'?

Mindset: Athletes are encouraged to do a lot of journaling and other mindfulness approaches, as this helps them to reflect and have a clear mind. It tells us that the bounds of what the mind has set out to achieve are flexible if that person believes in themselves and follows their mind's lead. Pushing those boundaries by taking the time to reflect, whether through a diary or a coach, is an excellent habit to develop. How do you take time out to be mindful of your situation?

Determination: For athletes, perseverance and repeating actions over and over are key to success. An athlete's training is well balanced. Trainers emphasise strength training to make a runner faster while avoiding injury. At first glance, this may appear strange; after all, why not just practise running to get faster? In reality, it's more involved than that, as you need to train an entire system, not just their legs. This reminds me of operating a business: you may make many sales to raise income, but you won’t go very far if you fail to build out the product. In the end, the firm must function like a well-oiled machine, and you must have the determination to build that machine.

TAKEAWAY: The paths of great leaders and professional athletes are extremely similar; in both situations, people are going against the grain, the odds are stacked against them, and their prospects of success are slim. Only those with tremendous ambition and determination (who put in the 10,000 hours) and who can maintain a level head (showing mental strength) will succeed.


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