There is a common theme to date in my blogs, which is the close link between sport and business. There are clear common traits, in my opinion, and one of the most underrated ones is the ‘Hard and Smart’ work ethic.
Yes, world-class athletes are blessed with great natural talent, but this doesn’t stop them working relentlessly on polishing their talent and taking it to the next level. When I worked at GE, our CEO was a very astute leader, but he also travelled around the world and worked 24/7 – his work ethic was truly extraordinary.
As one of the greatest golfers of all time, Gary Player once said, “the harder I work the luckier I get”. He’s now a man in his 80’s and still pushes himself to do over 100 press and sit ups every day! He is blessed with a combination of talent and an awesome appetite for work.
I watched in amazement recently as my favourite living sporting hero – Roger Federer – won Wimbledon at the age of 35, his record-breaking 8th Wimbledon title and 19th Grand Slam title. How does this man defy age and perform now at his very best level?
Yes, he is incredibly talented, but he is also the best example of “working hard and smart”. By this, I mean he practises daily and long hours are put in to groove his legendary shots. He’s also known for putting his mental and physical health first, because he knows there is life beyond sport. In an interview during Wimbledon, he made it clear that he took SIX months off in order to recuperate his mind and body, but “more importantly”, as he put it, to spend time with his young family.
There is life beyond work, but you have to be in good mental and physical shape to enjoy it.
In business we must always look to work hard, and yet be smart enough to get the balance right – working long hours is no guarantee of success. While working smart and ensuring that the effort is relentless to hone skills and perform to the highest level, it is essential that at the same time we enjoy life outside of work with family and friends – spending time doing our favourite things. Resting our minds and bodies is so important and can lead to even better levels of performance and longevity – Roger Federer has already proven the theory.
Work to live, don’t live to work is my life-long badge.