The 2 Things Executives Can Learn From Jonathan Thurston

When you compare top athletes or top executives with their peers there is very little difference in their skills or experience. What defines an Executive Athlete is the ability to perform at key moments. They risk it all when others hedge their bets. These are the moments that create greatness.

When Jonathan Thurston touches the ball he appears to have more time than anyone else on the field. When he demands the ball JT reads the play and sees the gap in the defense before anyone else. Thurston uses all of his skill to attract the defense and create space for his outside men. But, when he sees an opening he is not afraid to take the ball up and punch through the defensive line.

The Executive Athlete creates opportunities in the same way that Jonathan Thurston creates attacking opportunities on the football field.

When an Executive Athlete is in control of their health, they feel in total control of their mind and body. They see and predict problems before they occur. They attract opportunities that no one else in the organization can create. They share this positive energy with the team giving them the opportunity to grow and flourish. But, when the problem requires some brute force they are not afraid to punch through do the hard work themselves.


Jonathan Thurston is an expert at running at the opposition and drawing in the pressure of the defensive line. Thurston puts his body on the line, allowing players who are much bigger and stronger, to flatten him on his back just after he makes the pass to a teammate to score. JT is often left sprawling on the turf as his outside men are crossing the try line. Each time he rises like a champion, quick to get up and congratulate the teammate who scored.

The Executive Athlete absorbs stress and pressure in the same way that Jonathan Thurston absorbs the pressure of the defense on the football field.

The Executive Athlete understands those moments of greatness are created by entering into and managing higher and higher levels of risk. The pressure created by this level of risk is something that can’t be passed onto the team. It must be absorbed. The Executive Athlete may get knocked down, but they are quick to get up and be first to congratulate the team member for getting the right result for the team.


The highest levels of resilience are needed to create opportunity and absorb the pressure to lead a team to greatness. This resilience comes from deep wells of mental, emotional and physical energy.

When a career defining moment arrives for the Executive Athlete – time stands still. This is where every element of their preparation pays dividends – the rest, the ability to handle stress and high-quality nutrition. The executive remembers every training session where they pushed outside their comfort zone and won. They knew that each session on the treadmill wasn’t just about improving their health, they were also training to persevere when things get hard.

When an opportunity presents itself the Executive Athlete is ready…just like Jonathan Thurston.

This is a concept that I explore in my book. You can download a free chapter sample here at