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Why Athletes Make the Best Employees by @sheclimbsladder

by Linda Huth | Featured Contributor 

This spring I accomplished a goal that I have had for a long time. I got my ring muscle up. For those of you that don’t know what that is, here’s a video of my first one (sound on if you want to hear lots of encouragement).

I’ve been Crossfitting for about five years and I’ve always been envious of other athletes that were able to master gymnastic type movements. That’s something that doesn’t come easily to me.

A ring muscle up is half strength and have gymnastics. I reached a point in January where I had the strength but I needed to master the gymnastic skill. So what did I do? I worked on it. I spent extra time in the gym. At times I was the only person there working on something. I worked on progressions and skills over and over again to master them. I failed reps, actually, I failed a lot of reps.

After about four weeks all that work paid off. I got my first muscle up. You couldn’t wipe that smile off my face.

Now, this is a great accomplishment for me, but what on earth does it have to do with business? The answer, everything. Here are a few reasons athletes make the best employees.

You need a strong, determined work ethic to succeed.

To succeed at anything you need to be determined and work hard to get there. The best part about working with athletes is they know exactly how to get in the grind and get work done. They strive for excellence and let the success follow.

As an athlete, if I’m not good at something I work on it. I spend extra time in the gym or get some extra help from a coach. I work on my weaknesses until they aren’t weaknesses anymore.

This work ethic carries over into the business world. I know that I have weaknesses in my professional life, but I’m not afraid to face them and turn them into strengths. I took a project manager role on a project a few years ago, even though it involved doing a lot of presentations (something I wasn’t comfortable with at the time). I took on the challenge and got better. Now when I make a presentation it’s not an issue at all.

You need to be coachable.

You aren’t going to be the best at everything you do. This applies to sports and it applies to business. I wasn’t the best Crossfitter in the world on day 1, but I took direction and am now better, stronger, and faster than when I started.  The better you are at taking direction and making changes the better you will get.

When I am mentoring someone at work I enjoy it a lot more when the person is coachable. They want to learn and are trying to get better. They take criticism and view it as a chance to improve and not an attack on their character. These are the employees I know are going to go on to do great things.

You need to have confidence.

It takes a lot of confidence to pull yourself in the air and fling yourself over a pair of rings. Not only do you need the strength to complete the skill but you have to believe you do as well. I would have never gotten my muscle up if I didn’t believe that I could.

The same is true in the business world. You need to have confidence to succeed. You can’t sell yourself short. You can’t walk into a meeting with a proposal and say, “Well, I think this maybe could work.” You need to walk in with your head high and say, “This is a great idea and will be successful.” I’d much rather work with someone that has confidence than someone who is always second-guessing themselves.

Final Thoughts

My advice to you is to get comfortable with being uncomfortable. Learn to attack your weaknesses. Take criticism and learn from it, your career will be better for it. Finally, have the confidence to command a room.

What weakness are you working on turning into a strength?

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