Dean Karnazes is one of the greatest long distance runners of all time. Endurance sports have a physical component, yes, but arguably the most important component for success is overcoming mental challenges. And because of this, Dean's advice is directly relevant to the workplace. 

Sports advice in the workplace

  • Don't deny or attempt to prevent mental roadblocks. Shift the paradigm to embrace the arrival of a mental challenge.

  • Rehearse getting to dark places. Learn to recognize symptoms and cope with them. Be honest with yourself. This should carry over into your life outside of running.

  • Be in the moment. Usually when the going gets tough, my technique is to become super-granular in my perspective. I focus just on the two feet in front of me. I don’t check my watch….I exist in the moment.

  • Look for a challenge. A risk to take.

Sports mantras in the workplace

  • Next step

  • You've got this!

While you need a bigger picture perspective in your work and career, it will take many small, impactful, deliberate actions that add up to bring you to the big goals.

How do his points translate into hiring?

If the role will need to face intellectual challenges, bring clarity to ambiguous situations and require someone who is mentally tough at times, ask prospective hires to share examples about when they took a risk, times they were uncomfortable and challenges they have faced. What did they learn and how did they grow? The risk and challenge-seeker pattern is easily identifiable in an A Player. 

Candidates with some degree of hungry/fighter/sports discipline pique a special interest with me because there are many parallels to exceptional career performance. To learn more about these parallels, check out my this blog post.