We are Corporate Athletes

As Jim Lehr and Tony Schwartz point out with their Corporate Athlete concept, we all work in cycles – sometimes we are conscious of them, sometimes not – and I’ve just come off of a “put your head down and get it done” cycle. I completely underestimated the amount of mental energy involved in moving. But understanding the Corporate Athlete concept helped me get through it, with the experienced promise of recovery at the end of the too-busy tunnel.


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The corporate athlete concept is this: Physical athletes prepare and play in cycles. They get up to peak for major tournaments, they rest and recover afterwards. In fact, they spend most of their time in practice and recovery, not at peak performance.

Those of us in the work world, though, attempt to perform at peak every day. We don’t give ourselves recovery time. We certainly don’t have practice time. We work hard to be in peak form for board meetings, big customer events, development “death marches” and then expect to stay at peak, with maybe a weekend off. While we do need to be able to perform consistently, our performance can be (and actually is) within a band. 

We push, tending to over rely on a strong motivation from purpose, often completely draining ourselves without creating sufficient recovery time in our calendar.

Recovery time can be substantially decreased by adding a strong physical underpinning, and a foundation of emotional and mental capacity. These will increase your resilience but some recovery is still required to return to peak.

I find it useful to look at my calendar on a monthly/quarterly basis – noting when I need be at peak, when I need to recover, and adjusting where possible. Awareness of the cycles and pro-active planning helps me play better, longer.


Karen Walker – One Team Consulting

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