Fitness link to success at work

AN acquaintance in my social circle is predictably unreliable. He will express enthusiasm for gatherings, sometimes even going so far as to suggest and arrange things, and inevitably, he doesn't show up. This attitude of his is so prevalent that it seeps into his work life, and as such, he has never remained long in any position.

I once told my social circle that it was funny that another acquaintance, who comes from a similar background, does not suffer the same behaviour and is pretty successful. "That's because he was once a professional body-builder," a friend said.

It's not a new thing that athletes make good workers. Just thinking about it, people who have an athletic regime surely would make better workers. They wake up early for training, are mindful of their food intake, make time for any training they missed, and make time to have enough rest and recovery (not to mention being relaxed enough to really use the rest and recovery time appropriately). This requires discipline and the ability to be focused.

In an article, "The Corporate Athlete", by Loehr and Schwartz, the authors suggest that the same kind of routines, processes and techniques in creating successful athletes work for corporate leaders. Rituals, sufficient rest and recovery, among others, help workers mobilise energy at a moment's notice, and give them endurance, strength, flexibility, self-control, and focus in work life.

While the rest of the world moves forward in this direction for their workforce, I am wondering how open Malaysian employers are to having such an approach in their employment. Once upon a time, when I was a boot camp coach, one of the companies had our boot camp do the actual selection of executive trainees based on teamwork, leadership, initiative and creativity. The trainees had to wake up early and be on the field by 5.45am.

All right, many people don't like exercise. Actually, considering the fame of Malaysia's obesity levels, it's pretty safe to say that most Malaysians don't like to exercise. But how many of the things you do at work do you really like? And yet exercise can make such a difference to our bodies as we age, just as athletic training can help one deal well with work adversity, or perhaps even most adversities.

A cousin used to represent her school for swimming, and I was catching up with her recently and we laughed about it. "Yes, Daniel, I did all that when I was at school, but that was because my parents drove me to the training sessions and made me do it. Did I enjoy it? No! But I think now it gave me a lot of skills. I am not afraid of the water, like many of my friends. I think my body is as strong and as flexible as it is also maybe because of this."

I reminisced with her how my mother used to make my brother and me run around the house every evening based on how old we were; so if I were seven years old, I would have to run around the house seven times. I laugh about it now, but I can tell you I hated it then. And yet, I look back at that "training" and realise that it was beneficial for me and I am grateful.

The successful acquaintance I mentioned earlier isn't in employment, as most in the fitness industry usually are at least semi self-employed if they are successful. The habits, the discipline and the focus he executed, and that became second nature for him, he has taken into his work life as a personal trainer and gym manager.

We might not need to have to train regimentally as athletes do, but having that kind of discipline and focus can translate well into other aspects of our lives.

Considering how many people got up at 4am to run in the SCKL marathon recently, perhaps we should feel encouraged.

Daniel freelances in writing and fitness training. Comments: letters@thesundaily.com