What entrepreneurs can learn from athletes about staying energetic
Being an entrepreneur requires focus, skill, talent, and agility — and being in the best shape possible. You are always competing in whatever arena you have entered.
The best athletes are perpetually focused on what they can do to improve their outcomes. Entrepreneurs must be as well. No one wins in sport or business without putting in the work required to excel.
Performing at the top of your game requires a massive amount of energy, so don’t take it for granted. Here’s what entrepreneurs can learn from athletes about keeping their energy in high gear.
1. Good Rest Is Nonnegotiable
Poor sleep has been linked to multiple health and functional issues. These include memory and concentration impairment, mood swings, depression, stress, lowered immunity, heart disease, weight gain — you name it.
If a poor night’s sleep throws off your weekend pickleball game, that’s one thing. If it leads to a false start, an Olympian is disqualified. If it throws off an entrepreneur’s pitch to a potential investor, it may nip a promising business in the bud.
When sleep deprivation is throwing you off your entrepreneurial game, avoid the things that prevent you from getting enough shut-eye. Steer clear of screen time, caffeine, alcohol, and heavy meals close to bedtime. You should also avoid an evening intake of spicy, sugar-laden, or acidic foods.
Then there are things you can indulge in to get a better night’s rest. The smooth, soft, and breathable benefits of silk can make silk sheets and pajamas a better choice than cotton. Dim the lights and light a relaxing aromatherapy candle an hour or so before you go to bed. Establishing a calming bedtime atmosphere can help you drift off easily.
Stick to good habits and a consistent schedule for going to bed and waking up. Sleep is the single most important way a body regenerates after a long day. That makes it a nonnegotiable strategy for keeping energy levels high.
2. Failures Belong in the Rearview Mirror
Mistakes are valuable learning tools. You err, then you correct what you did wrong, leading to something even better. That’s why mistakes help hone business ideas as much as they lead to the perfect backspin.
It is the fear of failure that keeps people stuck in safe places. Entrepreneurs and athletes are inherently risk takers, and there are always going to be mistakes when taking risks. Imagine the number of times Simone Biles fell before nailing that triple twisting double back.
Failures can provide a tremendous source of energy, but only if you shake them off and try again. Carry them around, and their collective weight can be paralyzing.
Then again, don’t attempt to shake them off before you conduct the autopsy. If you don’t figure out the “why,” you’ll probably repeat the same mistake again. Once you’ve studied the failure and determined its cause, put it behind you and move on to the next attempt with vigor.
Thomas Edison famously said: “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.” It took a lot of energy to invent a working light bulb. That’s putting a positive spin on moving forward after each and every negative result.
3. Carbs Create Energy
Carbohydrate-limiting diets, like the keto, Atkins, and Dukan diets, are all the rage. Yet carbohydrates are the primary source of energy for the human body. That’s why you won’t see an athlete cutting a healthy daily intake of the right kinds of carbs.
Entrepreneurs may not be burning thousands of calories in physical training every day. However, the brain, which works 24/7, consumes a massive amount of energy. That is an organ entrepreneurs use the same way a bodybuilder uses weights.
This doesn’t mean that you’ll lose weight by sitting around and thinking a lot. It does mean that you need to keep the body fed with whatever it needs to produce energy. Which brings us back to carbs. While you’ll want to avoid processed carbohydrates (e.g., white bread, sugary treats, soda), whole grains and fiber-rich fruits and vegetables are vital.
Insufficient carb intake can cause weakness, fatigue, headaches, concentration problems, and nausea, all of which are energy zappers. It can also cause constipation, as whole grains, legumes, and fruit and vegetables provide the fiber your body needs. While a low-carb diet may aid short-term weight loss, it can lead to serious health issues over time.
Consuming the right carbs in moderation while avoiding too much fat will keep those energy fires stoked 24/7. That’s essential whether you’re a word-class athlete or an aspiring entrepreneur.
4. Healthy Tension Is a Good Thing
Constant stress will suck the energy out of anyone. The wrong tension puts focus on the wrong things, and that can zap every ounce of energy athletes and entrepreneurs need.
Worry, fear, and irritation are equally physically and mentally exhausting. It takes a lot of energy to hold all that useless anxiety and anger inside. However, athletes understand that some amount of tension leads to optimal performance.
There is a fine line between competition and anger, and between being anxious and experiencing those healthy pre-race jitters. Creating a healthy tension will excite you, which will boost your energy level. Wallow in negativity, and you’ll sink into depression.
Athletes also know that energy breeds energy. Doing nothing because you’re tired will just make you feel more tired. Instead, do what gets your blood pumping, whether that’s working out or working on a new business idea.
Not knowing for sure whether you will succeed sparks energy in the pursuit of small and major wins. In physics, pressure equals force divided by area. Put the right amount of energy in the right places, and the perfect amount of pressure will power you up.
Crossing the Finish Line
Without a doubt, being an entrepreneur is a marathon, not a sprint. That doesn’t mean you’ll never need those fast-twitch muscles to carry you over the finish line. Most of the time, however, entrepreneurs will need endurance and stamina.
Both require massive amounts of energy and the intelligence to know when to expend it. Some days, you’ll need to power out of the starting blocks. On others, you’ll need to settle into the right pace for the long haul.
You may not show up for work in running tights, but your professional performance demands the energy levels of an athlete. So give your body what it needs and adopt an athlete’s attitude toward both mistakes and challenges. And then don’t be surprised when you find yourself mounting your industry’s medal stand.