What Entrepreneurs can Learn from Athletes An athlete mindset always strives to improve, and their bodies go through rigorous training, yet they continue to get better
Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.
You're reading Entrepreneur Asia Pacific, an international franchise of Entrepreneur Media.
You wake up in the morning and even after six-eight hours of sleep you feel exhausted because it took you two hours to fall asleep in the first place. The things you used to enjoy earlier now seem less attractive. The social environments you used to thrive in now seem daunting. Little things irritate you. You feel as if life is going nowhere. If any of these things sound familiar, you may be dealing with the dreaded burnout that entrepreneurs and high achievers seem to run into in modern life.
As burnout becomes more prevalent in society, you hear more people advising business professionals to take less load on their shoulders. That is great advice except when it is not feasible. Some people have multiple streams of income that require a lot of time and attention to manage. Some people have a high standard of living that is not easy to prune. Some people believe in their vision so much they cannot back off. The answer is, not to back off, but to take better care of yourself to perform at the level you desire for many more years to come.
Take Better Care
You may have been in your current state for years, so you may not remember what it was like to feel amazing. Everything in life is relative and if you do not have contrast, how can you say that you are living well? The business numbers may be right, but without realizing it, you may be miles away from your real potential. To get there, you must take care of yourself better.
To accomplish this, you must consider yourself a professional athlete. An athlete mindset always strives to improve, and their bodies go through rigorous training, yet they continue to get better. What we do not see behind the scenes, after the match is over, is the tremendous amount of work that is put in to recover the body so that it is able to get back to the rigorous training and games as fast as possible.
Similarities between an Entrepreneur and a Professional Athlete
Weekly schedules that are so jam-packed that it is like the body went through an exhausting sports performance. We are hunters and gatherers by nature, so we were not designed to do traffic 10-16-hour workdays and constant exposure to stimulation through electronics.
Number of weekly decisions made is like countless hours of mental prep for the game. We may not feel stressed in our mind, but we must remember that our body is not as powerful as our minds are and will break down from the constant thinking if not nurtured well.
Amount of responsibility carried is like the pressure athlete feels from their fans. Imposter syndrome happens with athletes as well as entrepreneurs, and pressure is a big reason for it.
The unpredictability of business and finances is like the uncertainty of contracts in the leagues and the possibility of injury taking athletes out of their career. When your family and employees depend on you, and you face things like recession and fast market shifts, it becomes incredibly difficult to manage the feelings of uncertainty.
To athletes, it is not about overtraining that causes them to lose performance; it is under-recovering that makes that happen. Entrepreneurs are no different. Since we cannot slow down our business pace, like athletes cannot reduce their training, we must take care of ourselves in a similar way.
Tips to Relax
Manage stress not just in mind but in the body as well. Learn the concept of mindfulness through yoga or meditation. Take proper supplementation to support a good stress response from the body. Learn to perceive stress better. This mindfulness practice will save you a lot of time by teaching you to respond to situations logically versus instinctually reacting to them.
Maintain good hormonal health and energy. Regulate your blood sugar through eating low glycemic foods and high amounts of protein around 3/4 of a gram per lbs. of goal weight daily. Throughout the day eat frequent meals to avoid getting hungry. Understand that hormones drive your motivation and it is not just about mental discipline.
Treat your body like the Ferrari that it is by giving the best quality nutrients and exercise to fine-tune your performance. Do resistance training and some cardio three days a week minimum. Avoid eating processed foods and eat enough quality calories daily. I usually ballpark it around 10 times your body weight in calories per day. Focus and longevity are key in business, and these adaptations will help you gain both.
Avoid the highs and lows of performance. Do this by understanding how to pace appropriately by seeing your destination and then reverse engineering them into daily tasks to stay on top of things. When we fall behind that is when burnout occurs.
Try these tips for 30 days and see how better your life becomes. We are a society of master justifiers and have become so good at giving excuses for not doing the things we know we must do. On an airplane in case of emergency, we put our oxygen mask on first. Similarly, in everyday life, you must take care of yourself first before you take care of the world. I know you may not have enough time, but when it comes to your body's performance, my typical answer to my clients is, "Suck it up buttercup, there is too much riding on your shoulders for your body and mind to fail!"