By Alex Andarakis, Managing Director & Founder of Andarakis Strategy & Management Consultancy
Exploring two of my personal passions – business and sport – and how they interact, has always propelled my curiosity, so it was not surprising that a recent line in a post on LinkedIn, mentioning the term ‘The Corporate Athlete’ caught my attention.
The American Heart Association defines an athlete as “one who participates in an organized team or individual sport that requires regular competition against others as a central component, places a high premium on excellence and achievement, and requires some form of systematic, and usually intense training.” So, how does this differ from the everyday challenge, performance, intense competition, and talent management that leaders throughout the corporate world tackle throughout their careers?
The answer to the question above is that the corporate athlete and/or a dynamic entrepreneur participate in a similar, dynamic cauldron to the professional sporting athlete, using the skills and capabilities that they have collected along their educational and self-development journey which we brand as a career.
Playing to win is the primary objective, and a continuous learning pathway from the talent within your team, guidance from your clients, and insight from your customers feed into the ever-evolving improvement program for the corporate athlete in much the same way sporting athletes interact with their teammates, coaches, and fans. The major difference between the professional sportsman and the corporate athlete comes down to the period of sustained performance and longevity required to remain at the top of their game, ranging from a decade for the sportsman and a minimum of three decades for the corporate warrior.
Building and maintaining strength in both mind and body is a critical success factor, and the discipline needed to overcome the challenges along the road requires determination, grit, and commitment to serve the purpose of why we choose the corporate world as our playground.
Sharpening the mind through training and development forums, seizing the future through innovative thinking and calculated risk-taking, whilst finding the time to maintain physical fitness to perform at the very best of our ability fuels success, motivation, and peak performance.
My personal transformation story lives within my 35-year professional career, where I have had the absolute privilege of working for some of the world’s most admired and successful corporations, inspirational leaders, and incredibly talented colleagues. Whilst not being a coveted sporting athlete, I do consider myself a corporate athlete, who has faced burnout many times throughout my career, dropping my levels of efficiency, losing my motivation, and seriously challenging my health through poor habits and an absolute dereliction of duty to ‘self.’
The tipping point came with the realization that the corporations that I proudly served would continue to survive and thrive, irrespective of my presence, and therefore it was time to focus on my personal development as a man, partner, and father, and that accelerated a complete change to my physical and mental health program. The lifestyle change meant dedicating time to look after both mind and body through regular fitness training, embracing nutrition through a balanced diet, and spending quality time with family enjoying regular vacations and the time spent at home.
In the professional corporate world, we are all athletes, so enjoy the competition, strive for excellence in performance and achievement, and embrace learning as the training tool for maintaining relevance in the arena of your choice, whilst never ignoring the need to be fit for purpose and life in both mind and body. Healthy athletes compete on the stage; unhealthy athletes watch from the stands!