“Ready to Play”
I recently read a sports psychology book called “Ready to Play” by Ron Chamberlain. I realized that many of the concepts presented have been those I’ve used in coaching youth sports for years, but it also occurs to me that these same principles apply to business as well.
Readiness is the key to success in any endeavor, sports and business included. Readiness, in large part, isn’t something you simply train for an hour a day. Readiness at performance time is largely determined by how people live their lives each day, all-day long.
To perform at a consistently high level and have major advancements in readiness, athletes, CEOs and entrepreneurs need to have skills they can use to create and maintain a game-time readiness. This readiness centers around three key abilities, each of which are described further:
Activation: Each individual has to find their zone of optimal functioning. The level of physical energy and mental alertness needed to complete a given task needs to be prepared for every day. Some of us function best under pressure and others do not. We all need to know what works best for us.
Emotion: Athletes need to know themselves well enough to know what makes them feel best at performance time and how they can replicate that emotional state. Some use positive self-talk, which for a confident person, sounds something like: “I’m ready to compete and I will be successful.” In work and in sports, we need to be able to get through the highs and lows of emotion and perform at a high level every day. Find and learn to replicate that state when needed.
Focus: Concentration is a process of focusing on cues or stimuli that are directly relevant for the successful performance of a task. Some athletes complicate performance time by over analyzing what they are doing. They end up over-thinking rather than focusing on a few simple cues that will enhance their performance. When athletes are well-prepared, trusting, and keep their approach as simple as possible, they will perform at the top of their game. Tony Gwynn, who won eight batting titles in Major League Baseball, the second most all-time, said he was at his best as a hitter when he had a simple focus: “see the ball, hit the ball”. Another common focusing problem is paying too much attention to the uncontrollables, or things outside of the athlete’s control. For instance, a basketball player may get a bad call from a referee during a game. From that point on, he may continue to fume over the injustice, and play either out-of-control or too tentatively for the rest of the game. One cross-country athlete the author worked with used to say the phrase, “control the controllables” as she prepared for races.
Performing at the top of our game requires dedication, not simply an expectation that we’ll perform when the time comes. Use these sports psychology skills to prepare for success, control the things we can control and not worry much about those we can’t. We should prepare daily to be ready to succeed when opportunity knocks.
JB Henricksen is a partner at Advanced CFO Solutions. At Advanced CFO Solutions, we provide outsourced accounting and financial services. We have served with more than 450 companies. Our clients see us as their strategic, outsourced CFO. We provide CEOs with critical information so they can make key decisions with confidence. We do this by leveraging our experience and technology to provide actionable information and results. And, we do it for a fraction of the cost of a full time employee.