These days it’s drilled into our heads that it’s important to lead a fit and healthy lifestyle, not only for ourselves now, but for our future. But then, we get home after a hard day at work. The couch is calling our name, and demanding we binge on the hottest shows on Netflix, with a bag of chips and beer in hand. How familiar does “I will start my diet and go to the gym on Monday!” sound to you?
Naturally, Monday looms and we don’t even feel motivated enough to turn on the sports channel, because of course watching people run up and down the field would be exercise enough. I’m pretty sure that most of us could raise our hands and say we have been guilty of this ludicrous behaviour. Yes, we all know that getting off that couch and participating in some form of exercise will help us physically, mentally and socially. But have you considered the kind of influence sport could have on us professionally?
When you think about the ‘lessons you can learn from sport’, you’ve probably already heard the big stories of people coming back from injuries or personal adversity to win the elusive 1st place. Or how learning from defeat and mistakes can help you become a better and stronger individual. This is all well and true. However there some professional benefits which you may not be aware of, that can be used in the office on a daily basis.
A common benefit of playing sport is learning how to work as part of a team. Whether you are playing doubles on a tennis court, or a member of team of 15 on the rugby field, no matter the size of the team, there is always an element of working together to achieve the same goal of winning the game. Adding to this, every sports team has a strategic plan before a game, and so should a business before the start of a new project or financial year. Using your analytical and strategic mind-set in the locker room can definitely be related to using this skill in the office.
Leading on from my previous point, if you get really good at using these team-building and planning skills within your sports team, you might be considered an influential team player. This in turn can help develop your soft leadership skills, such as encouraging others after a defeat, or helping drive the motivation and success of your team. You may not be captain of the team, but being influential can be just as important.
One of the key lessons that I learnt from participating in sport is discipline. As a young kid, it is an essential trait and value to learn, and can be used later on in your professional and personal life. Discipline which can also be translated to “sportsmanship”; this teaches us to respect others, have integrity and support others in tough times.
Another benefit of being involved in sport is the opportunity for networking. If you play sport outside of work, then you are bound to meet new people from all walks of life, which could be advantageous for you—and for them. If you are lucky enough to work in a place that caters for a company-wide sport, then there is a high probability that your team mate could be a colleague who perhaps you’ve emailed, but never met in person. The side-by-side challenges and comradery of playing sport together, will help you to build and strengthen relationships.
There are so many great benefits to being involved in sports, and regular exercise. As summer approaches, many of us start thinking about getting that summer-bod, but there’s so much more to it than that. The physical and mental benefits of sport speak for themselves; weight control, combating health conditions, greater mental health, better sleep and higher energy levels. Whether you prefer hitting the gym, or playing sport, when walking into the office, why not start to think about what you’ve learned on the field, that you can then implement in the office?, You build and develop professional relationships from outside the locker room, but most importantly have fun while doing it!