Friday, 14 May 2010

Sports psychology

As the London Olympics and my own ambitious half marathon edge closer, I’m struck by how useful sports psychology is in business. Of course, this is hardly a new thought. Many sports people have made the transition into business life and have carved out successful careers using their planning and visualisation skills. Sebastian Coe’s book “The Winning Mind” talks of the importance of having a shared vision that everyone understands and believes in, and his success on and off the track make whatever he has to say noteworthy.

I’m struck by how setting a goal like a half marathon, and believing that somehow I can do it, starts a chain of activities that little by little bring me closer to my goal (as well as sore legs). Business is no different. Setting a goal that everyone believes is stretching, but possible, also starts tasks and activities that bring the team closer to achieving their objective. In both disciplines there are ups and downs, delight and despair, but there is no doubt about the magnetism of a crystal clear goal.

The difference, of course, between business and sports is that business goals are often more complex. The chances of success are less clearly defined, and often they rely on many people working together. All of this makes business objectives a great deal less straight forward than running a half marathon. I think, though, that there is enough overlap for the analogy to be useful.

The lesson is clear – the more clarity and visibility you can bring to your goals, the more likely they are to be achieved. And they have the added advantage of not hurting your feet.

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