Maintain Your Career with the Balance of a Pro Athlete

Most people’s careers last decades, yet we treat them like a sprint rather than a marathon. We spend enormous time and money preparing ourselves for the “rat race” and then throw ourselves in without much thought for how we will maintain ourselves over the long haul that will be our work life. A coworker pointed me to an article in the Harvard Business Review called “The Making of a Corporate Athlete.” It focuses primarily on executives, but I thought it had a strong lesson that all professionals could learn from. The premise covers the importance of bringing the mind, body and spirit to peak condition in order to sustain high achievement, similar to how professional athletes prepare for sustained success.

photo by Krug6 via PhotoRe

Let’s face it, high achievement demands not only intellect, but also physical and emotional strength. All too often we sacrifice our health in hopes that we will be seen worthy by our employers and peers to advance in our careers.

When I finished of my MBA program, I truly believed that the only way to be successful was to be willing to stay long hours, be the first car in the parking lot and the last to leave, to push myself without breaks. If work required you sacrifice personal and family time then so be it, or don’t expect to advance in your career. So I pushed myself, working long hours and sacrificing time with my friends and loved ones. I fought off one annoying illness after another, working through mild sickness. Eating like crap and watching my weight increase and my health vitals spin out of control. My blood pressure rose and I could hardly climb one flight of stairs without being winded. All because exercising would take too much of what little free time I had and taking the time to eat healthy meals was just ridiculous. What I didn’t realize during this time was that swinging my life so far out of balance only made me less productive and unhappy in the long run. It took several years before I realized what I really needed was more balance in my life, not only intellectually but physically, emotionally, mentally and spiritually.

Over the next several posts I am going to cover the importance of balancing each of these critical components and why it is important for long term sustained success. The HBR article I referenced before does an excellent job covering each of these topics and if you have access to their content I encourage you to look it up and give it a read. I will try to take some of the material it covers and talk about how it has impacted my life and some of the changes I have made. I will be interested to hear each of your perspectives and how you work to strike this balance throughout this series!

About the author: Heath

3 comments to “Maintain Your Career with the Balance of a Pro Athlete”

You can leave a reply or Trackback this post.

  1. Julia Kious Zabell - March 14, 2011 at 7:22 AM Reply

    Nice series! I couldn’t agree more…Having been burnt out on the 8-5 er, I now work for myself and HAVE to make my health part of my work day by taking walks, doing yoga, meditating….Otherwise, I am less productive and stressed.

    In fact, I teach a meditation series for entrepreneurs that is useful when they are stuck or just plain spinning their wheels. It is all about slowing down and accessing your conscious mind to map out your day and week…super helpful for me and my clients.

    • Heath - March 14, 2011 at 9:52 AM Reply

      Thanks for the comment Julia! I am glad this serious resonates with you. Its definitely something I have been putting a lot more focus on over the last year or so and it has made a big difference for me both in my professional and personal life. I look forward to hearing more of your thoughts as I touch on the specific components over the next few weeks.

  2. Vickie Elmer - March 15, 2011 at 7:37 AM Reply

    For me, it’s easy to get sucked back into that workaholic attitude, so I need reminders like this. Instead of balance, someone wise once told me it’s like creating your own recipe for your life – and then adapting it to that moment. You decide how many blueberries to add or whether to switch to almonds or olive oil.

Leave a Reply