Wednesday, November 6, 2013

High Performance Pyramid - the corporate athlete

A few years ago the Harvard Business review (HBR) put out an article on The Making of a Corporate Athlete. I came across this article while I was creating a presentation on workplace resiliency. This presentation was to discuss  how I as an athlete work to keep a positive mindset when faced with challenges such as poor race performance or the difficulty of working through a high volume training cycle and then connect how my strategy is applicable to a corporate setting. Additionally the presentation was supposed to weave in the concept of resiliency. Luckily these are all linked, positive mindset, and physical activity are essential parts of what makes a person resilient. These same things make an elite athlete effective on the playing field. If you look at a high level athlete, physical fitness is obviously a critical to performance, yet nutrition, sleep, and positive mindset are equally as fundamental to their ability to preform, and to their ability to bounce back after stressful situations-including the physical and mental stress of training (American Psychological Association).
This started me thinking about a term I heard my aunt talking about last summer the corporate athlete. So in this day and age what do you do with a term you vaguely remember....Google it. One of the first things I came across was this article by the HBR, in it they had the High Performance Pyramid, this diagram perfectly sums up what makes a person resilient. I believe that resiliency boosts performance, whether you are an Olympic athlete or a CEO. The more resistant you are to stress, the more capacity you have to perform at ever increasing levels. The HBR makes an excellent point that both high performing athletes and CEO's need to sustain high performance in the face of constant pressure and rapidly changing environments. As a kayaker this may mean adapting to changing race conditions or training loads, as a corporate athlete it may mean adapting to rapidly changing business climates and product demands, either way there is an element of stress.
If you look at the pyramid you can quickly build a case for why its really a pyramid of the fundamentals of resiliency.
 Lets take a look at physical capacity. The benefits of physical activity, healthy nutrition, and proper sleep have been shown to help promote physical, and mental/brain health. It helps improve memory, and overall energy allowing a person to stay focused and get more things done with fewer errors. Each of these components fall under the umbrella of self care, which serve as the foundation for resilience. Building emotional capacity include such things as positive mindset, emotional intelligence, emotional awareness or mindfulness, self control and self esteem. A concrete way to help build emotional capacity is to create a positive social network( The Psychological Foundation of Canada, APA).  Mental capacity includes a persons ability to focus energy. Mental capacity can be developed through such practices as meditation, visualization, and creating a work-life balance or a balance between energy expenditure and recovery (Leohr & Shwartz, 2001). I think that in addition to these things a persons general competence in their area of work is their ability to set SMART goals then carry out a plan to achieve them. Spiritual capacity, while less defined, is shown to be an important component of resilience. Research has indicated that people with higher levels of spirituality tend to have higher scores on tests for resilience.
Overall I believe that resilience is part of the foundation for increased performance.

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