For quite sometime now I wanted to talk about differences and similarities between professional athletes and just everyday people that go to work to earn a living.
Since I’ve had a chance to experience both worlds: as an athlete (for some of you that don’t know I’ve spent 10 years training and competing in fencing) and as an employee who “worked his way up”, I can speak from my own experience.
Everything that I write has a story behind it that inspires me to think and to share my thought with the audience. Here is what happened here:
I have gained weight. I can’t believe that I admitted it to the world but it’s true. After being surrounded with the stress, changing environment and lots of work I literally dived in to the “chocolate and cookie world” that had plenty of Pepsi, KFC and some Domino Pizza in it. Let’s just say that I wasn’t taking many pictures during that period in my life.
Finally my wife had enough of it and hired me personal trainer for my 39th birthday. His name is Cris. I was somewhat skeptical but was also willing to make a change and loose 15lbs that I’ve gained. The biggest thing that Cris taught me was not the new type of exercise or how to run on the treadmill. The biggest thing that Cris did for me was to help me realize and understand that our value system has been changed: what was wrong was good (or just ok) and what was good was perceived as weird.
The inspiration for this post came when Cris told me that it’s absolutely normal for someone to step out for a cigarette during lunch break at work or just go on a smoke break vs. someone doing push-ups in the middle of the office would be perceived rather strange. We would not think anything unusual about someone poisoning themselves vs. we would be wondering why someone would be doing push-ups. Wouldn’t you almost want to say something sarcastic to that person: “Are you training for the next Olympics?”, “What’s going on here, are you ok?”. Now you see what I mean by saying that our perception of good and bad has changed? And it’s not good change ether.
As I was digesting all this information while running on a treadmill I was beginning to draw parallels between athletes who rely on scientific research and healthy diet in order to perform well at the competitions and break world records vs everyday people who are trying to cope with a workload, stress, office politics etc.
I am not going to be “smart alec” and say that everyone should quit smoking, start exercising and dieting. I am just hoping to inspire some people – employers, employees, job seekers, executives to think of themselves as athletes who have to stay in top shape in order to stay competitive.
I don’t intent to suggest that all employers must figure out how to purchase gym membership for every employee. No, No, No. I am suggesting that when we go to work we go there to accomplish goals, deal with challenging situations, overcome stress and keep fighting. We need to start looking at ourselves not just as “I am going to work and I am already tired”, but more as “I am going to try to be in the best shape (mentally and physically) in order for me to produce the best possible results”.
For the company to embrace this kind of mentality they would have to accept it as a process not as a one time event. And at the end of the day it’s not all about being in the top shape for work, it’s about us being happy and feeling good.
It takes a long time for the mental change to take place; I encourage everyone who is reading this thinking: “you know, there is something about that, I am not 100% sure but he is right” – send me email, reply to this post, call us. Don’t think of doing it on your own, just like a good athlete needs a coach you need support from professional who knows how to help you rather than article on internet offering generic information.
And as far as me, well…I ended up loosing my 15lbs but not without some ups and downs, slips and falls. The main thing is that if I fall again I know how to find my way out of it and I have good support system to rely on. It feels good to know that I have that.
p.s. After sharing this story with one of my colleagues( I must admit that everyone in the office was polite about my “roundness”) I got a phone call from one of his clients who totally understood “professional athlete” concept in the workplace and was inquiring about possibility of such service from Canada Human Resources Centre.
I called Cris to see if he would be interested to conduct group or individual sessions. He was very happy to offer his knowledge, expertise and his passion.
President, Canada Human Resources Centre