What could you learn from the Tiger?
Last week I watched Tiger Woods playing in the Australian Open. Watching him and his fellow professionals, I started thinking about some of the differences between athletes and non-athletes at work.
Athletes don’t need to be “on” all the time. There is an enormous amount of down time. As a golfer you spend most of your day walking to your ball (or in my case looking for it). Only a very small percentage of the time, are you actually hitting it.
Athletes know the importance of being able to produce results when they need to produce. If they can’t deliver under pressure, potentially their careers are over.
Athletes train regularly to help them produce results when they need to. They also spend a lot of time relaxing and switching off. This is important for them, so that when they need to switch on, they are ready to go.
Tiger was asked what he would be doing in the afternoon after he had completed his second round that morning. His answer was, “relaxing and switching off”.
Now it’s not for me to comment on how the Tiger chooses to relax. That could get me in hot water. The point is switching off is a huge part of what allows him and other champions to be so focused, when required.
The great athletes master the switching on and off skill very early in their career. If they don’t, they burnout very quickly.
I don’t think you can stay on all day at work. You have to develop the skill of adapting your intensity to suit the situation.
If you are going flat out for 12 hours a day 5 days a week, I’m not convinced that you are giving yourself your best chance of consistently producing the goods when you need to.
A client I was coaching last week said to me she feels she hasn’t had any decent creative thoughts for months. I asked her “when was her last proper break from work?” She said, “July last year”.
You may not be a professional athlete. In your role, I am sure there are times each day that you need to really step up and have 100% focus for a variety of things. These could include:
- Key client meeting
- Performance review
- Major presentation
- Recruiting a new member for your team
- An event where lots of your staff and clients will see you
If you look closely at your work flow each day, you can learn to pace yourself properly. I think you will get much better outcomes by doing this. If you are constantly going at 100%, I can’t see how you’ll manage to get the best outcomes.
Great leaders have an abundance of NRG. They have no choice. They know their staff and their clients can interpret their body language far better than their words.
If you find yourself constantly saying things like:
- “I’m flat out at the moment”
- “I’m under the hammer”
- “I’m still trying to clear the deck”
- “I’m under the pump”
- “I’m busier than Shane Warnes plastic surgeon”
Think about the message you are sending to yourself. Your thoughts become your words, your words become actions and your actions over time become your values.
But I hear you say, that’s all well and good in theory, but I have so much on at the present moment.
Perhaps the reason you have so much on is you haven’t spent enough time planning how to manage your intensity levels properly at work.
You might also find that when you do go on holiday you are taking your work with you. Why are you doing this? How is it helping you to switch off? Isn’t that what holidays are for?
Being a leader at work is about outcomes not activity levels. If your activity levels are too high and you are struggling to maintain your NRG, perhaps it’s time to learn from the athletes and understand how to switch on and off properly during each day.