Professional athletes must train hard and smart to be at their peak for competition. There are periods of hard training interspersed with periods of rest and recovery to prevent injury. This demanding career forces the athlete to sacrifice everything for performance.
The typical executive, by contrast, devotes almost no time to training and must perform on demand 10-14 hours a day or more.
Athletes must have:
– Good vision:
Besides 20/20 vision, the eye muscles must be able to move efficiently, stabilize their gaze, and change depth. That will translate into a better ability to predict the environment, which is directly associated with lower levels of stress.
– Good balance:
Balance is how we deal with gravity. Poor balance increases the danger of falling, which results in a certain amount of stress that will impact the forward progress of the athlete regardless of his sport of choice.
Learning a variety of movement skills is crucial to enlarging the map of movement options. If you have never practiced catching a ball while jumping sideways while looking the opposite way, and landing on one leg, chances are that the first time you try you will not be successful and may even injure yourself. Practicing it will allow the creation of neural pathways that will recognize that movement as a viable (non-threatening) option.
On top of all that, athletes are often in situations where they need a mix of everything at the same time. They need to integrate those different types of information into one relevant piece (in a sensory/motor sense) at a specific moment of their training or competition.
Being able to efficiently manage (integrate) all those tasks is the goal of high-level brain health and function training.
Now, here comes the best part.
Vision, balance, agility and integration abilities are crucial components in optimizing the efficiency levels of executives.
According to the brain-feeding pattern, fuel (oxygen+glucose) is spread throughout the brain through activation of the area (from cerebellum to frontal lobe). The frontal lobe is the last part to be reached. That means if you are struggling with balance, vision or posture (managed by other areas of the brain), this will absorb some of the fuel that would have otherwise been directed to the frontal lobe in charge of logical thinking and executive function.
Of course it takes more than sight, balance, agility and integration, but according to a 2001 Harvard Business Review (“The Making of a Corporate Athlete”), these are fundamental components of a high-performance pyramid for executives.
That study indicates that corporate athletes, who compete every day, need the same high level of efficiency as professional athletes. Vision, balance and agility have to be able to operate at their best in situations of sustained high performance.
Next time you hit the gym, find someone who can help you train your balance and vision at the same time you have your regular routine. That could mean gradually improving your ability to decide, and if you are a top executive it could also mean saving big bucks for your company.