Tag Archives: athlete

Are you a corporate zombie?


Corporate zombiesYou have probably heard of the corporate athlete by Jim Loehr. The HBR article describes how you can keep yourself fit at corporate level. They give tips like taking breaks, clearing your head, and physical exercises.

So we know that there are fit and unfit corporate athletes, but I would like to add another employee type, the corporate zombie. Corporate zombies are the day walkers among the others. The ones who are at work, but are not really at work. You probably know a colleague who acts just like this.

Are you a corporate zombie?

Take the test below.
  1. You work from nine to quarter before five. The last quarter is dedicated to looking or waiting at the time-clock.
  2. You only follow your job description. Everything else is not your concern.
  3. You are known for your idea killers.
  4. The last training you followed was obliged by your team leader.
  5. Initiative is for others.
  6. You like to complain processes and procedures, but hate it to participate when there are initiatives to solve it.
  7. You are known for your skepticism with corporate change projects.
  8. You best discussions are the gossip sessions in the coffee corner.
  9. Before giving your opinion, you first look to your left and right to check if anyone else is listening.

Do you recognize at lease five of these characteristics? In that case it’s time for a change!

Some tips to overcome zombieness

  1. Are you sure doing the right job? Check your talents, find your passion.
  2. Work at your enthusiasm and motivation:
    1. Find purpose in your job. Even if you don’t like what you are doing right now.
    2. Evaluate your day. Write down one thing that went good.
    3. Ask more autonomy to fill in your day job.
  3. Unlock your creativity. Participate in creativity exercises or games.
  4. Engage in after-work events. Get to know your colleagues on another level.
  5. Avoid using idea killers (eg. like “yes, but…”), but see through the idea and discover its possibilities.
  6. Find a mentor, explain your situation and plan a weekly meeting where you discuss the passed week.

To end with a quote:

Do or do not. There is no try. – Yoda, Star Wars

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Leadership lessons from an iron man, with a golden heart


Marc Herremans

Marc Herremans

I am certain there is no better quote to describe the life story of Marc Herremans, Belgian top athlete in triathlon, Iron Man and the Iron Man for disabled people, than this one:

You can if you think you can.
If you think you are beaten, you are.

During a seminar Marc told us how he dealt with personal (ambitious) goal setting and dealing with set backs. It was a touching story that I would like to share with you.

Everybody has a main goal in life
Marc reminded us of the fact of how lucky we truly are: we’re all living in the richest part of the world, and above that, we are all healthy.
In his early years, Marc was not sure about being a boxer or a swimmer. But after a few attempts he has set a goal for himself to become the number one triathlete in the world. He was good on his way when a major setback happened which resulted in being paralyzed from the waist down.

Every setback in life is an opportunity to fight back
While in the hospital, Marc thought his life was over: he had to give up his one ambition and now was destined to a life in a wheel chair. After a visit from his nephew he saw the light again and set a new ambitious target: to become the number one triathlete… in a wheelchair.

Everything started again for Marc, only his aspirations were changed.

Since we cannot change reality, let us change the eyes which see the reality

Everything is possible if you believe in it
Years of hard work and training resulted in winning the Iron Man in Hawaii in 2006. Marc emphasizes that you do see one man going over the finish line, but there is a whole team of 30 members involved. A team that would have made his victory impossible without.

You have to reach your goals before your end is near, so you have to do it now
My question at the end of his presentation was: what’s next? So I asked him about his next goal in life since he already made his one ambitious goal. Marc responded that he’ll devote the remainder of his life to coaching other athletes, running the Project U-turn and To Walk Again foundation, and his family.

You can only control the controllable
One lesson I take along from Marc’s touching story is that you cannot control everything, so there’s no need to get stressed from stuff you cannot control. When it is about setting results, it’s about you. Comparing yourself with the other’s gear, state, strength, etc will only make you uncertain.

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Lessons from triathlon for corporate athletes


Last week I went to a presentation where the athlete & Belgian triathlon champion, Simon De Cuyper, gave an interview about setting clear targets. Just like in the corporate world, in the sport world is setting targets an important part when acquiring results. During the interview Simon shared some of his experiences and lessons learned.

Triathleet Simon De Cuyper

Triathlete Simon De Cuyper

I’ve made a list of key insights for you to share.

Focus on the process and process targets

When you’re only focussing on the end result and the end target, you might get caught up by stress too much. Simon has learned to focus on the process and set process targets. For example, the start of the swimming part of the triathlon and the change-over between the sports in triathlon.

When you only keep the end target in mind, focussing on it might freeze you. When you focus on the different steps and parts to make it to your target, you’re focussing on how you’re doing your job in the best possible way.

To quote Steven Covey: “Begin with the end in mind”.

Set a target

One of the differences between a professional and many recreative athletes, is the principle of setting targets. When you want to improve upon something, whether it’s triathlon, squash or incident management, you’ll have more chance to success when you set a target.

The target will keep you focussed and allows you to measure progress, which motivates.

Set a realistic target

Simon has set his target for the 2014 Olympic Games to be in the top 8 of triathlon ranking. “Why not go for gold?” was the next question of the interviewer. Simon replied that he was aware of his capabilities and choose to pick a realistic target. A target where he needed to stretch himself, but which he could make.

I’m not sure what to do with this takeaway. I understand how this could work, but history has learned us that setting inspiring targets can work too.

See for example Microsoft, Apple and the Nasa.

President John F. Kennedy, May 1961: “I believe that this nation should commit itself to achieving the goal, before this decade is out, of landing a man on the Moon and returning him safely to the Earth”

Bill Gates, Microsoft: “A computer on every desk, and in every home”.

Steve Jobs, Apple: “What we want to do, is to change the way people use computers in the world.”

Use a coach

Unlike in the corporate world, in the sports world it’s very common to have a coach. A coach who coaches you, supports you, challenges you. The coach doesn’t have to be better than then athlete, but who is committed to the success of the coachee. A good coach will make you stick to the commitment of running 4 hours a week, even when it’s raining.

In the corporate world the same logic can be applied to the role of a coach. The coach doesn’t need to know it all, the coach doesn’t have to be older, … The coach needs to be committed to the success of the coachee, provide an honest mirror to him and motivate him when the going gets tough.

Know your limits

Simon works at continuous improvement, but he is aware of his (physical) limits. There will be a day when continuous improvement is not possible anymore. A big “transformation” will be needed then, maybe a change to a total new sport, like long distance running, he testified.

We often hear this remark at the work floor too: is it possible to keep on improving, even with tiny bits? Instead of improving peanuts (and violating the Pareto-rule), it might be interesting to question it all and try something new. To make a transformation.

Additional reading

The Making of a Corporate Athlete by Jim Loehr and Tony Schwartz

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