When I think about professional wellness, I think about something that people can relate to: the professional athlete. Because professional athletes are so visible – much more so than business professionals – we can learn a lot from them.
Just like successful leaders in the business world, they apply discipline, focus, and persistence. They master team dynamics. They repeatedly test their limits, face failure, and keep going. And they exemplify the intersection of health and wellness with performance.
What are some steps we can take to be on our best game and perform at our highest levels of potential?
I remember going to see Jerry Bell down at his Leadership Institute. He talked about the seven causes of happiness or unhappiness:
• Spirituality and Community
Dr. Bell studies peak performance in a complex life, and he’s conducted a tremendous amount of research around successful business people and effective leadership. What he found was that the seven domains, over time, must be balanced. If you focus on one or two at the expense of the other five, you end up on tilt. For example, you focus only on work and making money – and you leave behind your family, fun, faith, and health. This can lead to divorce, illness, stress, and ultimately – unhappiness.
The bottom line is that the job of any high performing professional is very complicated. Like that of a professional athlete, it’s one that requires a lot of self-control, discipline and conscious choices.
Make the choice to examine these seven domains and rate them every six months. How are you measuring up, from 1-10, with each? Which areas need to be pulled up? Where do you need to spend more energy and effort? Which areas are you over-invested in?
Remember, this exercise is a marathon. There are going to be times in your life when you’re going to experience spikes in a particular domain. And you can’t walk away from those spikes. It might be an elderly parent that needs extra care. It might be a major project at work. Whatever it is, there will often be something that requires your extra time and energy. But by periodically checking in and rating yourself in each area, you have the opportunity to choose whether to stay in an unbalanced mode.
These seven domains can energize you, and they can burn you out. This is the reality of life. You’re not one person at work and a different person at home. Life intersects with both and each has a massive impact on how you show up. And showing up at your best consistently over time is what makes high performers stand out from the pack.
Think about your values. Are you spending your time and energy doing the things that align with what you hold most dear? Understanding your values allows you to reflect across life’s challenges and move forward in a more positive and functional way. When you let your values guide you, you have a better chance of showing up as the best version of yourself.
Finally, identify what you can control and what you can’t. We want to think that we control everything. The reality is that we only control about 20% of the things in our lives. The other 80% is completely beyond our control. Purposefully separate the two.
Spend your time and energy on the things you can control. Fighting for ownership of things that you have no control over leads to anxiety, anger, and burning precious energy. Don’t burn energy on the things that you don’t have control over. Focus on the things that you can impact and influence.
I’ll never forget the time I saw Aaron Rogers, QB for the Green Bay Packers, epitomize this concept. His second string had just thrown an interception with only two minutes left in the game. Aaron grabbed the young man’s helmet and pulled it to his. The camera zoomed in close enough to read his lips, “Leave it behind you, we need you going forward.” High performers quickly move on to what’s in front of them, what they can still influence. They don’t unnerve themselves by focusing on past mistakes.
You may not be able to control every aspect of your life, but you can control your reactions to what you can’t control. You can choose your reaction – and that carries over to how you show up in a huge way.
Consider these lessons learned from professional athletes. Apply them. You have the capacity to perform at your highest potential and to achieve great levels of fulfillment.
Harness your consciousness and focus. Be curious. Reflect and assess. Ask for feedback. Share.
When you care then you can progress.