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5 Essentials To Succeed Like An Athlete

by Richard Norris on August 21, 2014

Winning the Race 300x199 5 Essentials To Succeed Like An Athlete

5 Essentials To Succeed Like An Athlete

For an athlete to succeed they have to better than the rest. But it’s not just about the event in which they compete, it’s about becoming the full package for that event. What applies to an athlete, applies just as much as a parent, a pastor, a pupil or a president. If you don’t have the essentials, you won’t win.

Recently, my focus has been on my fitness and purpose in my career, in my marriage, in my family and in my church. Whilst completing my multi-discipline workout the other morning, I recalled a conversation I had with an athletics coach a few years ago. He said that for an athlete to achieve their best, their coaching program had to focus and maximize 5 key physical areas (more on those later). For an athlete to be the best in their chosen sport, they must excel in all 5 areas. Every leading athlete also needs to also have a strong mental attitude and personal belief they have what it takes to win. To be the best, they must truly become the full package.

When it comes to your potential, have you reached your best?

Not every one is an athlete. However, we can each apply the principles of what it takes to be a great athlete to become the best we can be at work, rest and/or play.

I was reading about Sports Illustrated‘s new list of the world’s fittest athletes. These athletes were rated in 4 categories – speed, strength, agility and endurance. LeBron James topped the list with a perfect score in each category. Cristiano Ronaldo was second.  Usain Bolt was third. Hmm? Whilst I agree these guys are top in their sport, I believe there is someone fitter – Richard Froning Jr. He is the 4 time World Crossfit Games winner. It would be interesting to see these guys go head to head. But I digress…

I was a swimmer for 23 years. I loved the training. I loved being fit (I still do). But I never achieved my best. According to my coaches I had talent, but I plateaued. I may physically have been able to excel, but I lacked the mental edge.

Sport and coaching have come a long way in recent years. Science and technology have been integral to the improvements noted around the globe. However, it still takes a great coach to make an athlete great. A great coach knows that they have to develop an athlete from the inside out – body, mind and spirit. To neglect one of these areas will lead to failure more than success or, at least, untapped potential. The same will apply to your career or any role where you desire to be your best.

A coach sets the path; an athlete makes it.

I like to keep things simple for my own development. Currently, I’m working on my own training program to improve my base fitness. Once I reach my target, I intend to get back into some masters sports. To enable this, I must become crossfit.  I must also improve my abilities and performance as a husband, father and businessman to integrate this into my life. That’s what got me to thinking about what it takes to succeed as an athlete. As with many lessons we learn, there is often cross application to other areas of our lives.

When it comes to improving physically, there are 5 key areas (told you I would tell you later) that need to be developed. Each of these is interdependent. Improve one and it helps to improve the others.

1. Strength

Without strength you are weak. As a swimmer, we always did strength training. Whilst we did this in the gym, its benefits paid off in the pool. You need to be strong relative to your body size to be able to compete and win.

The principle applies at work. John Maxwell talks about focusing on developing your strengths and outsourcing your weaknesses to someone else for whom it is a strength. A QB is a passing play-maker; he doesn’t try to kick. Such a focus makes you and the team stronger.

2. Speed

In most competitions there comes a time when you need speed- whether it’s you against the clock or an opponent. I was watching the European Athletics Championships the other night. Jo Pavey, a 40 year old mum, became the oldest person to ever win a gold. She won the women’s 10,000 meters with a burst of speed on the last lap. Guaranteed you’ll need speed at some point if you mean to finish first.

Speed applies in business. Business is competitive. When it comes to a new product, speed to market can mean the difference between owning the market and being a minor player. Look at Apple.

3. Stamina

If you can’t last, you’ll come last. Working on stamina is essential because you often need it most at the end of the race. He who lasts, wins. Ask any endurance athlete if this is not true. Your body must be able to handle the punishment. For example, the world’s longest boxing match was in 1893 and lasted 110 rounds! It was a fight to the finish and ended in a draw. Just this month Andrew Snope broke the 24-hour barefoot running world record completing 136.98 miles!

Life requires stamina. Marriage is a marathon not a sprint. Parenting is for a lifetime. No one goes into business intending to fail or quit. The intention is to stick it out, overcome and prevail to achieve ongoing success. Whatever the role, those who can endure will triumph over those who are not as fit and not as committed.

4. Power

Without power a car cannot accelerate; neither can an athlete. Power enables you to accelerate. Power can get you ahead and out of trouble. Ever driven your car and found yourself in a situation where you had to step on the gas to stay safe? Just like that, a sprinter needs power to get off the blocks fast. Over 100 meters an explosive start can mean the difference between first and last – a matter of tenths or hundredths of a second. I was watching a video on a guy 5’5″ who learned to slam dunk a basketball (thought impossible). Core to his training was power lifting – explosive squats and weighted jumps. Apply the right training and the power will come.

In business that power can come through your vision, your network, your financial backing, your intellectual property, your marketing and/or through your people. Such power enables you to explode on the scene and power ahead of your competition.

5. Flexibility

Ask any athlete and they’ll tell you they need to be flexible to do what they do. Most stretch before and after their core workouts. Such stretching enables them to improve their flexibility and thereby their range of movement. The greater the range, the more freely they move and the less they’re prone to injury. The greater the range, the more they can apply their strength, speed, power etc.

Being flexible is essential to any leader whether you are leading yourself, your family, your team or your organization. You must be able to adapt to the environment you find yourself in and take advantage of it. Considering the pace of change in the marketplace today, small businesses have an advantage. They are often more flexible to market demands and can make changes practically overnight compared to their larger competitors.

Whether you are a corporate, family or sport athlete, you need to be fit for purpose. To win and keep on winning, you cannot rely on talent alone. You must work on your overall fitness for you to win overall. Your success depends on it.

Your Powerplay

Identify which area(s) you need to work on and begin to improve your fitness for your purpose.



Size Does Matter…So Have A Heart

by Richard Norris on August 18, 2014

Love Heart Book 200x300 Size Does Matter...So Have A Heart

Size Does Matter…So Have A Heart

Many people think leadership is a matter of the head, but it’s really a matter of the heart. It’s easy to lead with your head, but what we need today is more men who lead with their heart.

I recall on the school playground as a kid, it was always the biggest kid who often led. At school, it was the kid with the biggest house who was most admired or envied. It was the kid with the biggest brains who led the projects. It was the kid with the biggest mouth who was listened to. It was the biggest guys who seemed to have the most attractive girlfriends.

Equally, when I was younger and went to a restaurant with my parents and my brother, I always chose the biggest and most expensive item on the menu. My dad or mum would tell me my eyes were bigger than my stomach. I usually ended up having to settle for something smaller.

When you go shopping at the supermarket, you pick the biggest orange or piece of other fruit (perhaps you still do?). Have you found that often it’s never the tastiest but you pick it anyway?

In all these examples, you bought into the belief that bigger was better.

Today, sadly, this schoolyard rule still seems to apply. The playground is just larger. Size still matters. The little guy still envies the big man on campus. The little guy – the 99lb weakling, still feels inadequate; still gets sand thrown in his face.

I used to buy into the “size matters” fallacy. That was until I realized that the focus was all wrong. Outward size is superficial. Where size really matters is much deeper. It’s an internal thing. It’s the size of a man’s heart that is the more important than the size of his car, house, cheque book, job or ego. Leaders are not defined by such measurements. Leaders are defined by the size of their heart. Whether in the NFL, NHL, NBA, MLB or the boardrooms, family rooms, briefing rooms or school rooms, a man’s heart defines his impact and influence.

How big is your heart?

A man with heart is a man of passion and compassion. As a leader, such a man is more intent on heartbeats than spreadsheets.

In my day, a boy with a heart was considered soft. I guess then that was me. I used to feel sorry for / have compassion for those less fortunate – whether it was a suffering animal or a poor classmate. My compassion for animals led me to become a veterinarian. A veterinarian without a heart wouldn’t be very effective and wouldn’t have many clients. My compassion for my fellow man has led me to be a fairly generous giver to those in need. The tsunami, earthquake, famine and humanitarian crisis appeals of recent years and days trigger my deep desire to help in what small way I can – be it a donation of time, money or other resources.

Whenever my heart is stirred it feels as though it grows in size. At such times, in whatever role it applies, I ask myself, “What can I give?” and “How can I help?”

Just as our bodies cannot survive without our heart, neither can our lives and leadership. When the heart stops beating the body dies. When a leader’s heart stops beating his or her leadership dies.

A big heart makes a big leader.

To truly live and lead we must have a heart. The more we lead from our heart, the more we will win the hearts of others. Bill Gates and Warren Buffett may be two of the richest and smartest men in the world with the biggest bank accounts, but what matters to them more is their philanthropic work through the Gates Foundation.

A leader with heart is a leader who serves.

I think it’s Pastor Chuck Swindoll who said that a leader is known by the size of their serve. Such a man (or woman) does not expect others to serve them. They ask those they lead how they can best serve them. In Mark 10:45, Jesus said that he did not come to be served but to serve. Such leaders invert the pyramid and put themselves at the bottom and see themselves as best placed to serve those they lead. Nelson Mandela was a leader of passion and compassion whose mission and purpose was to serve his country.

A leader with heart is a leader who sacrifices.

Love is a matter of the heart. Greater love has no man than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends. (John 15:13). Here in the UK the highest medal awarded to soldiers for bravery is the Victoria Cross. Many of these medals have been awarded posthumously as the soldiers made the ultimate sacrifice of their lives. They did this in the line of duty protecting those whose lives they were sworn to protect. When you read the biographies of many great athletes, the unsung heroes are often their parents. I recall hearing a story of one of the gold medal swimmers of the recent Commonwealth Games whose parents had sold their house, down-sized and moved so their son could train with the best coach in the country.

A leader with heart surrenders.

According to the Harvard Business Review, one of the distinguishing attributes of a level 5 leader is that they are humble. Whilst they may have a strong will to lead an army, an organization, a team or themselves to victory, they are not ruled by it. Churchill, Branson, Jobs, Carnegie, Diana and Bolt are a few examples. Rather they surrender it to a purpose higher than themselves. They’re not in it for the power and the glory for themselves, but for those they lead. They give their all for all those they lead and serve. Such leaders are givers. They surrender their needs for the needs of the many. They give their time, money, abilities to their vocation and to those causes close to their heart.

When it comes to your heart, size does matter. The bigger the better. Whether as a parent, an athlete, a student, as soldier or CEO, live and serve with passion and compassion. The more you do, the more your heart will grow and the stronger a leader you will be.

Your Powerplay

Show the size of your heart this week. Give more of yourself to those you lead be it at work, rest or play.



Never Stop Learning

August 14, 2014

Never Stop Learning As long as we’re alive, we’re learning something. Contrary to what some people think, learning does not stop when we get out of school. It is only just beginning. Whether we’re aware of it or not, we’re always in the midst of a lesson. Learning is for a lifetime. Next week school […]

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