The Compass. The Method to Create an Executive Athlete

Achieving premium health and optimum performance is not as complicated as some experts make out. Health advises from the would-be gurus is usually presented as a series of tips—almost never as a system. The true expert is the one who knows how to create an aerodynamic system, what to discard and what to keep.

Becoming an Executive Athlete means more than just getting out for a run and counting calories. The biggest mistake that an executive in decline makes is thinking that simply exercising more and eating less will solve all their problems.

The method to become an Executive Athlete is listed below. The four points of the Compass correspond to the four elements of the program that will make you an Executive Athlete.

The order that I have presented them to you is important; each compass point builds on the last. The changes that occur in the mind and body as you conquer one compass point improve your ability to succeed with the next.

This order will surprise many, so I just want to reassure you that there is no doubt that becoming an Executive Athlete is highly reliant on nutrition and exercise. But without first obtaining optimal rest and managing stress, trying to get results is like attempting to fill a sink with no drain plug.

This is why the Compass succeeds where other programs fail: it first creates the conditions in which success is possible.

W.ORK & REST MANAGEMENT

For executives, being tired has become a way of life. When their bodies tell them to slow down, they push through even severe exhaustion for the greater good of the company. If they want to stop the executive decline, they first need to stop. They need to think and regain some balance. There is a big difference between the manic energy of the workaholic and the rested and thoughtful energy of the balanced leader.

Executives often don’t realize how little rest they achieve in a week. With wearable technology, bad sleep habits can be turned into good ones. The hard data is impossible to ignore. Executive Athletes assess their sleep statistics and plan for sleep in the same way they plan their waking hours. Wearables make this analysis possible, and they play a crucial part in the transformation from declining executive to Executive Athlete.

S.TRESS MANAGEMENT

Stress is not a feeling. Stress is a series of physiological changes that occur as our bodies prepare us for a situation that is important to our survival. Stress is not something to be avoided, it drives both the athlete and the executive to high performance. This level of performance is created when the challenge (stress) faced by the athlete is matched by their high level of skill. When this occurs the athlete is commonly referred to as being ‘in the zone’.

High levels of skill are the antidote to stress. The skill that the executive must learn is the ability to slow down, especially their thinking. When an executive slows down the raging current of thoughts in their head they are also able to reduce the physiological changes of their stress response. Rarely do executive roles require high arousal. The intellectual challenge of an executive role (and choices you make to change your health) requires intense concentration. The mind must be slowed to enhance critical thought and decision making.

E.XERCISE

We know that it’s important to exercise, but knowing how to exercise is important too. Unhealthy executives generally exercise as though they have something to prove. They jump into the deep end of the pool without learning the basics, and either injure themselves or find the resulting pain and stiffness too much to handle. At this point they often give up, declaring “Exercise is not for me”.

To create an Executive Athlete, we need to start with the basics of movement. They must possess the freedom of movement that the athlete enjoys if they are going to become an Executive Athlete. That is why I created a four-step model that ensures unhealthy and out-of-shape executives can transform into athletes without injuring themselves. The four steps are 1) Mobility; 2) Stability; 3) Conditioning; and 4) Skill

The program is very similar to the stages of rehabilitation for an injured athlete. The largest difference is the goal. The Executive Athlete is not planning a return to the professional arena, they are planning to do the things they love for longer.

N.UTRITION

The mechanics of weight loss are quite simple: create and maintain a calorie deficit by modifying your nutrition. However, nutrition isn’t about how many super foods you can eat, it’s about creating the right food environment and taking the decisions away from yourself.

The fundamental law that governs how we behave within our food environment: the Law of Food Proximity; is every bit indisputable as Newton’s first law of physics. The rule is simple: if you can see it, smell it or reach it, you will eat it. This law has as much power to drive weight loss as it does weight gain.

Outsourcing your nutrition is shifting the responsibility of preparing and delivering your meals to a professional. Outsourcing is how an executive solves the majority of problems at work, so why would this problem be any different? The unhealthy executive doesn’t possess the skills to prepare balanced, nutritious and portion-appropriate meals. Outsourcing your nutrition makes weight loss predictable and makes no demands on the executive’s time.

None of the four compass points is revolutionary on its own. There is no doubt that you need all four points of the Compass, but you need to find the balance within and between each. Strike the right balance and you find yourself at the point where the four elements intersect. At that intersection is the Executive Athlete. Where the four points of the compass meet, you have an individual who’s happier, healthier and abundantly more successful.

The Executive Athlete Scorecard will give you an indication if your long-term strategy is pulling you in the right direction. The scorecard will benchmark your physical health and the relationship with the mental demands of an executive role. Answer 40 yes/no questions and in 10 minutes you will have a tailored report with specific actions to improve your score.