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The NBA Playoffs Reveal One of the Most Powerful Productivity Lessons Ever

Health is a key factor of success for both athletes and entrepreneurs.

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For the better part of the last decade, the NBA finals had one consistent element – Lebron James. First with the Miami Heat, then with the Cleveland Cavaliers and now with the Los Angeles Lakers.

He went head-to-head against some of the NBA greatest players ever in the form of possibly the greatest shooter ever Stephen Curry and dominant forwards Tim Duncan and Kevin Durant. The result, nine trips to the NBAs top stage of which he came away with four championships including 2020.

This year was a different story. Lebron’s Lakers limped into the postseason in seventh place and forcing them to join the inaugural play-in tournament. How did the NBA champions find themselves in such a predicament? It was due, in large part, to injuries to their superstar center Anthony Davis and Lebron James himself during the season. No one, not even the great Lebron James is invincible.

Health = key component of productivity

While it might not seem like this has anything to with productivity, I assure you it does. Over the past few years, we’ve had some underwhelming NBA finals due to injuries.

As I like to say to my clients, “You can only be as productive as you feel,” and that applies on the hardwood as it does in the boardroom. Health is a major factor in not just how much you get done, but also in how long you can do it. How many people’s careers have gotten cut short due to health issues? For athletes, it’s all too well known, but it can affect anyone in any industry.

I used to neglect my health, and it cost me. I would come down with a heavy cold three times a year, each time costing me on average two days of recovery. Six days a year, each year for the better part of two decades. You do the math. And that’s not including time spent at hospitals getting checked up.

The hidden cost of neglect

Jim Rohn, the great late American business philosopher, used to say, “Some people don’t do well because they don’t feel well.” According to Healthline, an astonishing 36.5 percent of adults in the United States are obese, and another 32.5 percent are overweight. Regardless of the proponents of the plus-size movement, there is solid evidence linking high levels of obesity among the workforce to a hidden cost burden due to losses in productivity.

Related: Where Entrepreneurs Can Find Health

Numbers tell a story

While we may not need to bulk up in the weight room or run sprints to remain competitive in the boardroom, our health directly affects our cognitive ability, physical endurance and immune system. When I first start working with clients, I want to know their regimen as well as their diet, just as numbers of a company tell a story. Instead of costs and profit, we need to get an idea of how healthy we are. Outside of the gym-goers, most people don’t take the time to analyze their health habits. It’s only until they have health problems that they start to take things seriously. Unfortunately, in many cases, that’s too late.

Related: 5 Health-Tech Startups to Watch in 2021

What we can do

We may not need to have rock-hard abs or low body fat to compete in the boardroom, but sacrificing our long-term health can be devastating. One of my millionaire friends in his early 40s ended up in the hospital for three months, barely able to lift his hands due to the debilitating effects of stress caused by his work. His tale should be a cautionary one for all of us.

To ensure this doesn’t happen to us, we need to focus on four separate areas: diet, exercise, meditation and sleep. Let’s take a quick look at each:

  • Diet - Those extra pounds can be hard on our joints, heart and all sorts of other places. Personally, I’m not one for watching my calories, though it’s a great way to take control of your health. No need to go vegan either. I prefer a more balanced approach. Little to no sugar, a variety of proteins and a healthy dose of vegetables. Nothing earth-shattering, but it gets the job done.
  • Exercise - These days, so many of us live sedentary lives, meaning our body is getting less movement than previous generations. That’s especially true with so many meetings now being done over Zoom. One client recently told me he had eight meetings on a single day. He barely moved from 8 to 6. He’s not alone. That’s why it’s so imperative to get the blood pumping and stretch out those muscles. No need to join a gym, a 15-minute workout will suffice. Done consistently over years, the results can be staggering.
  • Meditation - Stress is at an all-time high due to Covid and the ensuing lockdowns. Isolation has taken its toll on many people. Techniques to reduce tension are more imperative than ever, which is where meditation comes in. Phil Jackson drew all sorts of criticism for having his teams go through meditation exercises before many games. But the results speak for themselves — 11 NBA championships and the title of the most wins a coach can have in NBA history.
  • Sleep - How often do we cut corners on this one? Sure, there are times when we need to stay up late to prep for a big presentation, but they need to be the exception, not the norm. According to ESPN, Usain Bolt, Venus Williams and Maria Sharapova all sleep up to 10 hours a day. Lebron James is reported to sleep as much as 12. Let that sink in.

Related: How You Can Protect Your Mental Health

Adrian Shepherd

Written By

Adrian Shepherd is a productivity consultant, author and speaker who works with individuals and organizations around the world. He has lived in Europe, America, Southeast Asia and Japan which has given him a truly global perspective.