Besides being examples of the pinnacle of human performance, elite athletes can also demonstrate the power of a positive mindset. While not every athlete has the perfect mindset, the ones who truly succeed are able to keep out the distractions and leverage their talents and opportunities to succeed. Here are three mindset principles you can apply in the workplace to harness your inner athlete.

1. Readiness and willingness to change

Keep and open mind and adapt to the changes around you.

When you’re an athlete, curveballs are inevitable. Stefan Underwood, vice president of continuous improvement at EXOS explains that “life will throw change your way when you least expect it. Throughout their career athletes may have to cope with being traded, changing teams, coming back from injury, or adapting training habits to account for sustainable performance at age 33 versus age 23. All of these scenarios require an ability to adapt and change.” All of this is in addition to the same changes that the rest of us deal with, like having a child, separating from a spouse, or caring for aging parents.

While your career and life challenges might not be covered by national sportscasters, you can still benefit from developing the readiness and willingness to change and adapt to whatever changes come your way.

Tiffany Grimm, a performance team director at EXOS, suggests this exercise the next time you’re faced with a change:

1. Identify the source of stress or demand for change.

2. Notice your initial reaction to it: your breathing, heart rate, tension, pain, and any thoughts or emotions that arise.

3. Pause, slow your impulse to react, and think of why you’re motivated to respond in a different way.

4. Reframe the change as a challenge and choose an approach that’s aligned with your values and creates a positive effect on yourself and everything around you.

2. Coachability

Get a coach to up your game.

To be effective teammates, athletes need to be able to accept feedback, embrace growth, and follow instructions.

You’re on a similar team at work, even if the purpose is different, and to be an effective member of that team you need to be able to contribute to the greater purpose. “Coachability is all about openness to relinquish control, expand one’s comfort zone, learn from others, and align with the shared values of your team and entire organization,” says Tiffany. “This is all done through humility and a willingness to connect with others, which may feel like a vulnerable place but will lead to greater results in the workplace.”

3. Grit

Push yourself all the way.

Life won’t always be easy, and you won’t always be motivated to get after your goals. That’s where grit comes in. On the field or court, grit is when athletes keep pushing through their boundaries when others tell them to quit. It’s about their perseverance.

You can showcase your grit in the workplace by identifying your purpose and making progress toward your goals even when it’s hard or you experience challenges. “Embrace setbacks with your purpose in mind. Sometimes life gets in the way, and you may get off track,” says Tiffany. “But avoid letting it keep you down by remembering why you set goals in the first place. It might help to have a photo or other physical reminder to help rekindle your motivation when the hard times hit.”

Now it’s your turn. How have you been able to apply an athlete’s positive mindset in the workplace?


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