Yes we all know the saying…..a healthy body in a healthy mind! However I would like to go a bit further, we should not be using sports just for the sake of being healthy but as an incentive to surpass ourselves.

Challenging yourself with sports activities will not only enhance your well-being and benefit your soul, it will increase your work efficiency.

First of all, it has been shown by Scientists that physical activities have an impact on your brain. Sports activities can boost your memory, improve your concentration, have a positive effect on your mood and help you overcome depression and enhance your creativity.

Regularly setting sport objectives has a profound impact on developing work efficiency and enriching leadership skills.

I have been thinking about how the sports activities I practice have helped me develop skills and a mindset that allowed me to improve my approach to work, efficiency and leadership skills. I identified below main competencies with examples and link with the professional world.

  • Perseverance, or in other words “never give up”: I experienced this especially during a car Rally adventure. Despite issues on the road or plans that had to be changed regularly, if I did not force myself with my teammate it would have been easy to abandon. Should you want to reach your objective you have to overcome your own limitations, which are often only in your mind. Have you ever been upset because your business did not prosper, or your proposals were not converting into contracts? Should you give up when such situations happen, it would consist in a failure, should you persevere it would for sure lead to success.
  • Going the extra mile: When you train for a half-marathon (or another race), every training should be slightly faster, or longer than the previous one. If you wish to progress in any sport activity you undertake, you should always do more and this is similar in the work environment. Are you just satisfied to deliver the same type of work, or do you want to be at least 1% better every time?
  • Resilience and Stress management: Practicing martial arts you need to have endurance. When you receive kicks and punches you still need to continue the fight even if it hurts. If you fall down, you need to stand up. It is a continuous fight with the opponent but as well with yourself as you need to manage your stress and your feelings to keep your ideas clear. It is funny to identify that it works the same way in the professional life. Often, the enemy to work efficiency is when we lose our mind and means due to the stress or frustrations which prevent us to stand up again.
  • Taking quick decisions and time management: Team sports are a great learning for these skills. Imagine a football game….the tension of the last minutes, the need to score a goal in order to win. You need to observe the surroundings, evaluate the time you have and then choose your strategy accordingly. It has to go fast if you want to make it. Being able to take quick decisions and managing one’s time are closely linked together and nowadays, in our rapid and ever changing digital world these skills are not a must they are a necessity for survival.
  • Self-confidence: Everything you achieve, a half-marathon, a Rally in the desert with no GPS, a parachute jump, or simply a 20 minute electrostimulation session can boost your self-confidence. No matter how fast you run, you will always be faster than the ones who do not run! Every achievement has to be seen has a success and this will change your attitude. Self-confidence is key in the work environment, it is part of the non-verbal communication. You can have the best knowledge. However, if you are not confident or sure about what you present, you will never be able to transfer your ideas and be convincing.
  • Creativity: It is often when your mind is not at work that it is the most creative. Remember the last time you went for a walk, or for a run in your neighborhood and suddenly a solution to a business issue, or an idea came to you. Physical activity produces endorphin giving you energy to enhance your creativity. Sports people are usually more inclined to think out of the box than non-active business people.
  • Knowing your weaknesses and using your strengths: In every sport or in every challenge you set, if you want to progress or simply achieve your objective, you need to know where you are good at and where you should improve. As a woman practicing martial arts you often need to fight against men. For sure I would have lost a lot of time and energy trying to become as strong as them. However, working on my strengths, is more encouraging and has better chances to work in the long-term. My martial arts coach always say: you need to fight smarter, not harder! The parallel can be made with the professional life, improve your assets instead of winding yourself in making an attempt to develop your important shortcomings. You will only lose time and energy.

All the above competencies are just an idea of what you can develop challenging yourself with sports, you can achieve much more. What all these skills have in common is that they all force you to go out of your comfort zone and are qualities of a good leader.

We all have excuses not to move or be active, having too much work, not being fit enough, being too tired or maybe because we do not see the short term benefit of practicing sports.  These excuses are concrete barriers to your personal and professional fulfilment and efficiency.  As Jerry Dun, known as America’s Marathon Man” said: “Don’t limit your challenges; challenge your limits.” What are you waiting for to set your next challenge ?

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Linda Papasidero Consultant at Lausanne Hospitality Consulting

Prior to joining LHC in August 2009, she handled several project development portfolios in international cooperation and executive education for the city of Lausanne. She then joined EHL in the Academic Department where she coordinated communication and academic advice activities.

Her responsibilities at LHC include the quality maintenance of EHL certified schools through marketing and academic consulting support, development of learning centres around the world and delivery of executive education courses.

Linda holds a Master of Arts, International Relations, from the Graduate Institute of International Studies, Geneva and a Post-Graduate Diploma in Marketing Management from HEC Lausanne.

Though she grew up in Lausanne, Linda has Mediterranean blood as she is originally from Spain and Italy. Thanks to her cultural diversity and interest in languages, she speaks French, Italian, Spanish, English and basic German. She is currently learning Arabic.

After work and during weekends, she practices martial arts, snowboarding, roller skating and taking long walks in the forest. She also enjoys spending time with family and friends, especially around good food and extra-large servings of chocolate desserts!