Olympic athletes inspire and awe us. They are the greatest athletes in the world. And every four years they get together to put their lives’ work on display for all of us to see at the Olympic Games.
And even if sometimes we feel like couch potatoes who can’t walk down the block without breathing heavy, there is much we can learn from these amazing athletes that we can apply to becoming top performers in our careers.
Below are 5 scientifically proven Olympic training secrets you can use to become twice as productive as your competition.
1. Work Deliberately
Olympic athletes don’t get to where they are without practicing. A lot.
The kind of practice Olympians engage in is what famed researcher Anders Ericsson calls “deliberate practice.” Deliberate practice is focused work done without distraction and it’s right on the edge of one’s abilities. It’s mentally challenging and requires clear goals and objectives rather than just “going through the motions.”
Picture a gymnast practicing a new move – and falling on her butt over and over again – before finally getting the hang of it after hours and hours of struggle and effort. That’s deliberate practice.
If you want to perform your best at work, you need to adopt this same deliberate practice mindset. This means you must focus on your most important tasks without distraction.
In addition, you need to identify the actual skills needed to excel at your work and make efforts to constantly stretch your current skill levels. If you focus on getting just a little bit better every single day, you’ll make amazing progress.
2. Get Feedback
Constant feedback is a requirement if you want to truly excel in your profession. All Olympic athletes work with expert coaches and mentors who provide them with feedback and guidance on their training. You’ll get the most out of your time spent doing your deliberate focused work if you’re also getting feedback along the way.
The inability to use feedback correctly is one of the main reasons why many people who seem to be working “hard” never get the amazing results they’re after. It does you no good to work hard if you’re working hard on the wrong things.
The best form of feedback is to work with an established expert in your chosen field who can provide you with coaching and guidance. Ideally, this is someone who has a proven track record of successfully taking people up the same mountain you want to climb.
These days you can find experts to help you in almost any area you want to improve at. Sites like wyzant have thousands of experts that can help you with anything from gardening to aerospace engineering.
Now, if for some reason you can’t find or afford an expert or coach to work with, I suggest you reach out to a friend or co-worker whose opinion you trust for help. Practically everyone loves giving feedback so finding someone to help you with this should not be too difficult.
3. Stay Motivated
It takes a superhuman amount of motivation to become an Olympic athlete. Getting up at the crack of dawn every day, training hard for years and years and years, and making numerous other life sacrifices is not easy. How do they do it?
Great athletes reach a point where they enjoy practicing and working hard for reasons beyond the actual, immediate results. In his book the Talent Code, author Daniel Coyle calls this type of motivation “ignition.” Ignition is what allowed swimmer Michael Phelps, arguably the greatest Olympian ever, to make it to the pool to train 365 days a year without fail for a period of over five years.
There are two key elements of ignition.
- a strong vision of what the athlete wants to be and;
- an internal belief that it’s possible to attain this vision
If you want to be a top performer in your field, you’ll need be supremely motivated as well. Spend some time thinking about what your vision for the future is as it relates to your career and look for evidence that this vision is attainable.
The easiest form of evidence is to find others who have accomplished what you want to accomplish and use them for inspiration. If they can do it, so can you.
At last count, there have been over 1400 clinical studies demonstrating the benefits of meditation from everything from stress relief, to improving the immune system, to improving the brain’s ability to focus. So it should be no surprise that in the field of high stakes athletics, where a hundredth of a second can mean the difference between glory and vanishing into oblivion, many athletes believe it’s just as important to spend time in the “mental gym” meditating as the physical one.
Meditation will also help us mere mortals get a leg up on the competition by reducing stress, increasing our will power, and increasing our ability to concentrate. The biggest reason why most people say they can’t meditate is because they “don’t have the time.”
The truth is, if you want to perform at peak levels at work, you don’t have time NOT to meditate. Twenty minutes a day is the ideal amount of time for most people. But if you’re just getting started, do whatever you can. Start with 5 minutes a day or even one minute and build from there.
Olympic athletes actually spend much more time recovering from their training than actually training. For example, Olympic marathoner Ryan Hall not only made sure he slept for at least 8 hours a night, he also scheduled 90 minute naps (which he described as “business meetings”) every afternoon.
Leading sleep researchers agree that we need 7 to 9 hours of sleep per night to perform at peak levels. This is true for Olympians as well as everyday people like you and me. If your engine is going at 100 miles an hour all day, it’s eventually going to burn out if you don’t let your foot off the gas on occasion.
In addition to getting enough sleep, you’ll also want to optimize your recreation time. Among the worst ways to spend your non-work recreation hours are surfing the Internet, playing on social media, and watching television. These things drain our will power and actually make it much more difficult for us to focus while on the job.
Instead, use your recreation time for things that will re-energize you. Go for a hike, spend time with loved ones, read a book or take up a new hobby. These things will not only make you happier, they’ll help you leave your work competition in the dust as well.
Like this Article? Subscribe to Our Feed!
Author: Ron Reich
Ron Reich is a former lawyer turned entrepreneur committed to helping others master the game of life by first mastering themselves.