Athletes, eh. Beyond the track, what are we good for?
A lot! Athletes make great business sense. Many of the good habits, practices and the immense amount of information you pick up through your athletics career allows you to experience and gives you an insight into a variety of careers and key skills…
Depending upon length of time, knowledge and level of success in their chosen event, an athlete basically ranges from Beginner/In-Training to Consultant/Expert Level Status in… (4-5 minute read)
About 1/3 (guesstimate) of the athletes I have associated with in British athletics and at my training center in Phoenix, Arizona have worked or currently work or volunteer in schools within their community. I say community, but this includes at times travelling hundreds of miles outside of your comfort zone to visit a school for a few hours to motivate a few hundred primary or secondary (high) school children to get involved in sport, to believe in their dreams and to never give up! My best, most nerve-wracking speaking experience was presenting as the ‘Special Guest Speaker’ at a graduation ceremony in North London to which I had personally been invited to speak at. My first and only question was: but what do I say?!
I am so blessed to be in a profession that affords such humbling, enriching opportunities.
Leadership, Team Development & Team-Building
Culture plays a massive role in nurturing positive team relationships.
Track & Field athletes are intrinsically individualistic; if you miss a training session or are not quite switched-on on competition day, there are not 9 or 10 other men or women on the pitch able to pull you along. Nonetheless, athletes do know how to be part of a team. We are versatile! Representing your club, county or country brings out the team-spirit within…to lead newbies and show them the ropes, to produce star performances to set a high standard to follow, and to ask the right questions from coaches, other staff and peers.
Culture plays a massive role in nurturing positive team relationships. The best culture is edifying with foundational principles:
- to live with a growth-mindset (see Carol Dweck);
- care for oneself and one another;
- to live with thanks and humility whilst taking pride in oneself and the team and striving for more;
- to take 100% personal responsibility for actions and outcomes whilst also leaning on each other for mental and emotional strength and wisdom.
Life follows a natural three-stage flow: dependence (youngest child syndrome), independence (which teens may refer to as freedom), and finally interdependence, the highest form and a hybrid or rather synergistic upgrade of the two. Interdependence can only grow and flourish in the right cultural environment. And that’s what I love about one team I belong to – Altis – we are all learning, sharing and growing together.
Entrepreneurship, Business & Accounts
When racing, throwing and jumping at home and abroad, whether receiving a small or large bonus, immaculate bookkeeping is fundamental to avoid trouble with the tax man. You learn to keep every receipt, to efficiently manage your personal and professional accounts, and to think with an entrepreneurial mindset. For the vast majority, until you get a major sponsor or compete exceptionally well in all the big races during season, life financially is exhausting and stressful. Even Olympians and national champions can be left homeless and in lack (read full story here)! That’s why having an entrepreneurial mindset is key. THINK: What can I do right now to generate income under flexible working hours and conditions that doesn’t have me on my feet or crouched over a computer, is low-stress so I can still get 8-10 hours sleep and be at the track for training and therapy from 9am-3pm? Some choose to invest and play the stock-market, some become Personal Trainers, and others reveal their creative flair from photographers to authors. Nonetheless, the struggle is real!
Check out the SUPPORT MY BUSINESS/BUSINESS HUB page to view a list of local, national and international athlete businesses, products and services. Your support will literally give life to dreams.
Throw a few athletes in a room and ask them to consult on your worldwide travel adventure. Seriously give it a try. You’ll receive hotel advice, the best food suggestions, what to eat and what not to eat in what city or country, what to travel with, the best airlines for various destinations, and other random travel tips.
Here’s just one example from Trinidadian Olympian, Mikel’s inspirational story: Persistent Pursuit of Progression.
‘I love everything from capoeira to fried cheese to samba.’ – About Brasil
Communications and Relationship-Building
Athletes are regularly connecting with strangers whilst traveling, creating and developing relationships to garner sponsorship and support, meeting new colleagues on a weekly basis when on the circuit, and whether you’ve been doing it forever or are a newbie – there’s always a new face. Interacting with the media and fans is also a commonplace activity, and this is where you learn first impressions do count, but there is always a chance at redemption and improvement happens with time, training and practice. And one of the best ways to make and maintain new connections…
Social media, PR & Marketing
Check out an athlete’s prowess across the Fabulous Four: Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram. You’ll want to hire them in a heartbeat.
Athletes are social media and SEO kings and queens. Hashtags, retweets, shout-outs, there is no better person to hire in this domain. Check out an athlete’s prowess across the Fabulous Four: Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram. You’ll want to hire them in a heartbeat. What can you do to run your social media like a pro? Care. Check out the trends. Tweet at a popular account and hope for an RT. Post regular updates. I honestly need to do all of the above soon, but I’m working on jumping far first (see Road to Rio 2016)!
Athletes are also becoming personal brands too, which helps for marketing and PR purposes. Watch this space for more on my ideas about ‘creating and developing a brand’ in a future (much shorter) post.
Report-Writing and Professional Analyst
Proper preparation prevents p— poor performance basically. Keep a training diary. Reflect, review and adapt accordingly.
Develop a tough skin and welcome critique. Be honest with yourself and others. Post-competition (post-presentation/interview/etc.), exercise rapid self-appraisal in relation to performance outcomes and performance behaviors under varied conditions, being aware of the effects of external factors or stressors such as weather, people, transport failures and ask yourself: did I
react respond appropriately? Proper preparation prevents p— poor performance basically. Keep a training diary. Reflect, review and adapt accordingly.
What is a goals coach, you ask? I recently discovered Zappos, the online shoe-seller has a Goals Department as a resource for the ‘Zappos Family’ (employees) to set and achieve realistic 30-day goals – personal and professional goals. And of course this improves their wellbeing, productivity and efficiency in the office. Goals are essential for an athlete. Goals are dreams, ideas and thoughts unfolding over time that when reached reinvent your reality and immediately dare you to jump into your next great feat. Without a goal, life is dull. But with a goal, you have the opportunity to thrive! Goals, therefore are key in sport, business and life. And every top athlete can show you how to set them and to stay on track to achieve them too.
Holistic Health Guru
Mind, body, spirit, heart – athletics is more than an exercise in physical discipline. I desire to be a true master of my event and to gain that mastery daily study is prerequisite.
- Growing expertise in NLP, CBT, mindfulness, breathing and meditation (various forms including: seated, walking, eating, guided, silent, prayerful, healing).
- Also, I’m currently researching my PhD in nutrition (not really, but sometimes I do wish they awarded certificates for being an athlete!) Check out my Fabulous Foodie features to see what my research has revealed so far and how it can help you to commit to a healthier diet this 2016!
In February, I will also publish a mini Fabulous Foodie diet-plan & recipes based on The Daniel Fast (which I’m currently doing), so drop me an email (firstname.lastname@example.org) to get hold of your copy or follow the blog!
- And rest. Rest is key. 8-10 hours sleep is basically the minimum recommended daily allowance (RDA) according to numerous studies and tests for optimum performance (check out the Stanford Sleep Study).
- Mental resilience isn’t a skill that simply arrives overnight; I unfortunately was not born with this awesome feature. It takes work in training and competition. I need mental strength simply to get out of bed on some mornings. And certainly to have been able to overcome 2 major surgeries (2013 & 2014) and a total of about 10 weeks on crutches over the past three years. It may not sound like a lot, but it is mentally exhausting – to keep smiling, keep persevering, to stay hopeful. And emotionally, depression is rife in my line of work. And often hidden. To the detriment of the sufferer. “A problem shared is a problem halved” needs to fast become the rule rather than the exception, because despite the prevalence of emotional illness in sport, there is still much shame and stigma here. Why am I sharing (rather than hiding) all of these mental and emotional struggles? Because the most successful athletes don’t run away from their struggles; they look them square in the eye and tackle them head on. To strum out another cliché, sometimes “what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.” Hear British Olympic hurdler Jack Green share his story on ‘Hurdling Depression’ at TEDxYouth, IMG Academy.
I desire to be a true master of my event and to gain that mastery, daily study is prerequisite.
University Degree-Holder & More
A.K.A. An athlete is and will be whoever he or she decides to be! The majority of athletes I have spoken to are either in or have previously studied at a higher education establishment (college in the USA or university everywhere else) in degree subjects such as Sport & Exercise Science, Biomedical Engineering, Law, Business, and more. I currently train alongside a couple of athletes studying towards their MBA. And my highest qualification is a Bachelor of Laws from University College London.
To showcase all the hidden business and creative talents of some of the world’s best athletes, check out the SUPPORT MY BUSINESS PAGE/BUSINESS HUB which will feature products, services and the creative works of elite athletes from all over the globe.
Thank you for reading.
Athletes not only have awesome career prospects, they also have unique character traits that will keep them set for life.
Athlete Character traits:
Perseverance, focus, patience, (perfectionism), no fear of failure (mistakes are part of the learning process), risk-taker, process-oriented (hitting the KPIs is a surer way to achieving your desired successful outcome), optimistic, realistic, goal-setter, responsible, independent and interdependent, hard-working, appreciates the value of rest, mindful, meditative, encourager, success-seeker, thankful.
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