Saturday, February 6, 2010

Olympic Athletes Avoid Distractions, Focus on the Prize

Whether it's snowboarding, figure skating, hockey, speed skating, or freestyle skiing, Olympic athletes find ways to cope with stress in competition, crucial for their performance.

Jennifer Heil, 2006 Olympic Gold medalist in moguls, likes to cocoon herself on competition day, and catch a few winks (according to an article in the Globe and Mail, Feb. 6, 2010) She starts by listening to music with headphones on - upbeat stuff, hip-hop mainly. But her best technique is to sleep. She finds a quiet place and closes her eyes even just for 30 minutes.

That sounds like good advice for all of us. The business world can be demanding too and pretty competitive. Dealing with stress is a daily activity. I remember reading an article that suggested a 30 minute power nap during the day is good for your heart. I always feel refreshed and re-energized after a quick nap.

In the same article, they quote five-time speed shaking medalist, Clara Hughes as "going into a bubble before races". She doesn't talk to anyone, tries not to make eye contact with people passing, and forces herself to limit how much information she processes. She describes this as an energy-conservation tactic.

That reminds me of a dynamic talk by Vince Poscente, former Olympic skier, who recommended going to a quiet place before an important business meeting. He suggested visualizing success, seeing the paperwork signed, the client delighted to work with you.

Whatever challenges we face each day, we can learn from the Olympians. Avoid distractions. Make healthy choices. Focus on and expect success.

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