Corporate Athletes

Last week at the EFactor attend in SF, Dr. Brad Jacobs made a great point. He compared the effort and strains of being a business man or woman with those of an athlete calling the latter "Corporate Athletes". How very true that is!!

Both have a ton of determination, are singularly focused on results and achievements, visualise the finish line and aim to get there first and both force their bodies and minds to heights that "mere mortals" don't think possible.

However, athletes have learned a very important lesson in the process that Corporate Athletes fail to recognise. And that lesson can make the difference between truly successful or truly burnt out!!

An athlete usually trains based on a predetermined pattern - so as I have written in these pages before, you train hard for three weeks, every week upping the level of training and/or pace/speed. Then the fourth week is a week where you actually decrease the intensity of your training below that of week 3 so that your body (and mind not to forget) gets a chance to acclimatise and recover. In the next cycle, you repeat this 3-on-1 intensity increase and so you go. The same can actually also happen at a micro-level, say when you do intervals on a treadmill. You up the pace 3x and then relax on the 4th. It's always amazing how easy the next interval will feel, even at a pace higher then the very first interval you did.

The same is true for business - you may not always be able to strictly adhere to this 3-on-1 increase/decrease intensity level, but you should keep an eye on it. If you have been working like mad for 3 weeks, it's about time to give your mind and body a chance to take it a little easier. Not only will it provide balance in your work, but you'll be amazed how a period that is a little easier on you, will give you the opportunity to find solutions that merely working like crazy will never throw up. Your mind in the crazy times is too focused on just keeping with it. Creativity comes with relaxation, or even boredom to a degree.

One more sidenote here...whenever I am at a station, or airport or simply waiting in line at the grocer's I see people stare at their smartphones. This to me is not relaxation! Whilst you are busy absorbing whatever is in front of you on the screen, your mind is not going to go in that alpha wave mode where new ideas arise. You are not allowing yourself even 5 minutes of downtime in which you can think up the next great idea... what a pity!!

So follow the athlete's lessons and make sure you DO take that recovery time as seriously as you do your intense work periods. And then see what wonderful things happen :-)

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  1. Thanks for your terrific summary of the workshop and providing your wisdom to the conversation! It was a terrific turnout and more importantly, there was such great energy in the room. You really have created a tremendous network of people through Efactor.

    To add a bit more color to the conversation of ‘optimal productivity through optimal heath”, I would add the following:
    “I’ve developed a regimen that allows me to move from peaks of concentration into valleys of relaxation and back again as necessary”

    -Jack Nicklaus in ‘Golf Digest’

    This is the essence of supercompensation… whereby you work (workout) intensely and then relax to allow the biological systems to recover, rejuvenate, and (most importantly) enhance creativity. The latter occurs through growing more abundant and larger muscle fibers (for the body), or more neural connections (in the brain)… in the end, you become a better (corporate) athlete.

    To you health,

    Dr Brad

    Brad Jacobs MD MPH

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