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High-Performance Habits to Help You Win at Work

business communication Nov 15, 2021

Talented teams and athletes make winning look effortless. It’s not just their physical strength and abilities that lead to results, it’s the habits they lean on daily that produce great outcomes. 

There’s always more going on behind the scenes than what you see on game day. The same is true in your office and with your team. Your habits determine your success even more than your talent and hard work.

Here are three high-performance habits you can borrow from sports to help you win at work. 

  1. Practice like you play. Coaches preach it, athletes say it. It sounds cliché until you watch professional athletes in practice. Of course, Russell Wilson is practicing touchdown throws to Tyler Lockett and DK Metcalf. Of course, the Mariners are trying to launch it out of the ballpark during at least one round of batting practice. But do you know what they do at least 90% of the time? They practice fundamentals at very basic levels. Hand placement, wrist movement, timing with their steps, the direction their shoulders should point before they throw the ball. They’re not going through the motions. They’re practicing like they want to play to get the results they expect.

From sports to business: If you only practice for the big moments you’ll miss the opportunities that come before it. Sure, you’ve given the presentation dozens of times you know exactly what you’re going to say, but what about the way you introduce yourself. Have you practiced that? Are you prepared for small talk? Do you have a way to leave a conversation gracefully? Have you said the words and practiced the fundamentals?

 

  1. Prioritize consistency. Seahawks linebacker Bobby Wagner has recorded 100 or more tackles in 10 consecutive seasons. That’s an incredible accomplishment and something only three players have done since 1987. Earlier this year he talked about consistency and drove home the point by saying this, “I’m not interested in the guy who beats me to the facility one time. Do it every day and then we’ll talk.”

From sports to business: Anyone can do things once. It’s the little habits that get overlooked that make the biggest impact. For me personally, it’s saying “Hello” and smiling every time I see one of the athletes I cover. Sometimes that’s the only conversation or interaction we’ll have for days but it’s also what leads them to drop their guard, trust me and talk to me on game days. Identify what you can and will be consistent at. Place a high priority on following through.

 

  1. Communicate clearly, consistently and directly. Watch how many conversations and interactions take place during a game. Pay attention to how much time any of those conversations take and notice how much gets done as a result. Coaches don’t email plays. Quarterbacks don’t send direct messages with wide receiver routes. Feedback on the sideline is very direct. You’ll never hear a coach say, “When you get a chance do you think you could slide over and cover that gap, or block the running back?” The conversations are very direct, clear and actionable.

From sports to business: There’s always an opportunity to communicate more clearly at work. You don’t need to yell or scream you can be kind and direct in your conversations. Remember, being direct is a gift for you and the person you’re talking to. If being direct is uncomfortable or something you’re not use to, practice what you will say ahead of time. How do you know when you’ve practiced enough? My business coach once advised me to talk about money with the same emotion I would use when I say, “Please pass the salt.” That standard applies here too.

There are communication and leadership lessons everywhere you look in sports – if you’re looking for them. The next time you watch a game consider the high-performance habits that go into winning and see if you can identify another element you can add to your work habits. In the meantime download 5 Ways to Level up Your Leadership Skills and put your sports fandom to work for you.

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