Take a look at what’s right in front of you – what does your desk say about you? Focus in. Just like your locker was, this space – is yours. The way it looks and feels will invigorate you. Your desk is where you create.

As former athletes, we thrive on consistency of confident, authentic first impressions. Walking up to a desk that motivates you to be you – a place that features core memories and victory moments – awakens your beta endorphins, the same ones that sent chills up your spine when you ran out of the tunnel with your teammates and into crowds cheering.

Desk impact items

Your unique athletic mindset will help you positively transform your work space. Choosing one desk impact item can catapult your personal development, routine, and collaboration.

The best desk impact item I’ve seen is a simple dry-erase white board. My co-workers created a weekly schedule, and each took turns writing “quotes of the day” on it. The work white board encouraged conversation, inspiration, humor, collaboration, and story telling. Most importantly, it built trust.

Now, I proudly have my own $5 white board, generating buzz at my desk. Classmates and I cater our quotes to build conversation around what’s going on – sharing challenges, successes, and real stories developing in our lives.

GamePlan A-James Harden-quote-if-you-have-a-dream-chase-it-no-matter-what-it-takes-motivation-board-desk
Add a white board to your office area and use it to motivate yourself or your team with inspiring quotes, funny doodles or a clear target to achieve.

Choosing your impact item

What’s most important to you? What pumps you up? What reminds you to be original? Items you surround yourself with at work matter. Choose a personal impact item that brings out your best. Decide on one thing that showcases your spirit. Print it out, post it up, and leverage it for personal development.

Amplify your story

Throughout my career in sport media, I’ve noticed amazing, intentional approaches to desk impact items. The memorable ones – on desks of TV directors, advertising executives, college coaches, summer interns, workflow managers, and athletic directors – are directly tied to personal, meaningful stories. These stories live on through championship photos, or even defeat photos. Team photo, or family selfies. They’re amplified, in framed “first-dollar earned” bills, and also in framed rejection letters. They’re funny, with cartoon bobble-head collections, and serious with performance goal sheets.

Showcase your athletic spirit with the items you choose to bring to work.
Every item tells a story. I’ve been inspired my many desks I’ve seen so don’t be afraid to ask your co-workers what a lanyard, picture or ball means.
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Build anticipation and routine

The moment you arrive at your desk is crucial. It sets a tone for your entire day. Routine will naturally spark from showcasing your core memories. Anticipate one time every day to look at your impact item, and remember how and why it motivates you.

I’ve found it helpful to be consistent and creative, with a ritual of tapping a photo or quote for good luck as I leave for an important media pitch or meeting – just like I did walking out of the locker room before a big game.

Let’s create

Transform your desk into a motivational catapult with one simple impact item. It will create value where you might have thought it was impossible.

What’s on your desk? Let me know, in the comments below, what items you keep close to motivate you at the office.


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by Andre 14.06.2017
In the past, I've usually kept my desk free of items that weren't work related. By keeping my desk clear it seemed to keep my mind clear. A few months back I picked up a little toy Boo figure from Mario while I was in Hawaii, and I decided to keep it on my desk. It has given my desk a little bit of character! I enjoy the presence of an object that can act as a visual cue to let me take a step back from work, to be a kid, to not be a cog in a machine, to add my own personal flair, and to be me! I'm excited to see how my desk evolves as a representation of me, and to use this as a catalyst to connect with other people in the office. Thanks for the idea Gameplan A!
by Christian Payne Andre 14.06.2017
Thanks for sharing your story Andre. I'm excited to see how your fun desk impact item helps you develop in a positive way!
by Gemina Stroud 16.06.2017
Great post Christian! On my desk I have an "I AM" picture. The "I AM" is centered in big, bold letters, it is surrounded by words such as "perfectly imperfect, enough, whole, strong, generous" etc. Whatever you say after the words "I AM" is how you feel about yourself. The picture is a constant reminder to have confidence and believe in myself.
by Christian Payne Gemina Stroud 17.06.2017
Thank you Gemina! Your "I AM" picture sounds amazing. I'm inspired to know that it's powerful for you!