Swim Your Way to Better Work Performance
How a one-day swimming workshop made me self-reflect and develop in the office.
The alarm goes off in the morning and you wake up in the middle of a dream, all dizzy and disoriented. Sounds familiar? Or maybe you’re the type of person who jumps out of bed at the first ray of sunlight, then cycles – or even runs – to work.
Either way, an active (or sedentary) lifestyle and business have something in common. How can your sport and physical activity help you perform better at work?
I recently learnt this in the swimming pool, or rather after a one-day ‘Swim Experience’ workshop with former World Champion Marco Koch, former German National Champion Dominik Franke, and their Swim Performance team.
Here are my three key learnings from the demanding but fun day:
1. Analysis is the key to improvement
Jumping right in at the deep end, we started off with a video analysis of our existing techniques, guided by Dominik, Marco, and their team. During a round of helpful tips, exercises on land and in water, and many laps of swimming, we made changes and adjustments, witnessing immediate progress.
Embracing constructive criticism, accepting that nobody’s perfect (except maybe Marco, who was a tiny bit faster than the rest of us), and choosing to get better helped me not only with improving my swim technique, it also translated to my work as an intern with the adidas Company Sports team.
Engage in an honest and open conversation with your colleagues and mentors.
2. First-hand experience is the best teacher
Hands-on experience lets you fail and learn on the spot, analyze your mistakes, and feel how you’re getting better – fast.
Interactions and knowledge exchange with coaches, athletes, or work colleagues are valuable tools on your learning journey. Seeing Marco and Dominik shine in their sport was a great incentive for us to improve as swimmers, to train harder, to get better and better.
True learning comes from doing. As we put the expert tips into practice, even when it felt wrong at first because it was different from what we were used to, we soon recognized we’re making big progress.
So, go out and explore something new. Don’t be afraid of mistakes. The sooner you make them, the faster you learn.
3. Consider teaming to get great results
Have you heard about teaming? It means teamwork on the fly; working with different teams, individuals, and departments to expand and exchange knowledge and expertise.
The social cognitive theory summarizes how we learn, and it’s simple: just imitate the behaviors of others. At ‘Swim Experience’, we performed partner exercises where we observed and corrected each other’s form. What’s more, we took notes from the professional swimmers as they performed movements the correct way.
Sure, I’ll never reach the cool and playful ease of Marco Koch as he swam 20 times against the rest of us – without a break! But that’s not the goal. We need other people’s support to improve ourselves, to uncover our full potential – in business and in life.