As I’ve chronicled in a few other posts, I’m training for what I consider to be my first Sprint Triathlon. A few months, I shared that my first attempt went poorly. I never finished as I never got started due to a swim freak-out. Now with the help of a terrific coach, I’ve been seeing solid improvement; more comfort in the water, more endurance and better overall fitness.
Nevertheless, last week I had one of those bad training days – low energy, fatigue and just an overall struggle. My coach asked me what I had eaten before the training session and what my typical recovery approach is. With some embarrassment, I admitted I typically eat almost nothing before a workout. I use an energy gel if I’m working for over an hour and I eat afterward. Truth is, I’ve always felt that food filled me up too much before and eating afterward was my reward. I know – not smart! I’m happy to report that today was the first day of working out with “good calories, carbs and protein before as well as after. What a difference!
I never mind putting up a post when likely reactions might be something like: Everybody Knows That or (in slang) Duh! I’m sharing this because as excited I was about this personal revelation, it got me thinking about how focused we can be on feeding our bodies. But what about our minds? Much like our commitment to getting the best performance when engaging in sports, are we demonstrating the same commitment to our intellectual growth? This is critical in professional as well as personal settings.
So, surprise! Here are 5 suggestions for DAILY MENTAL STRENGTH TRAINING that will feed your mind with the best and most powerful fuel:
Read: For at least 10 minutes if not more and preferably material that develops you, your habits and gets your thinking. Do it to start your day, take a break or wrap up. The 2nd two options can be a welcome break after periods of intense thinking or absorbing professional material.
Write: Like reading, block out time each day to get some thoughts on paper. What should you write about? Your choice but my suggestion is experiences that get you thinking – kind of like I’m doing here.
Learn something new: Here’s where you can double up. Read about stuff you know nothing about! Go to a website someone recommends that you would have never seen. Just take in new stimuli (athletes will know that this is the opposite of what we do on race day)
Take in an opposing perspective: Trust me, I’m not going near politics with this. I’m just suggesting that if, for example, your organization works on hunger or housing and you have a theory of change, look at those of your colleague organizations.
Do something that has nothing to do with your profession: Whether it’s exercise, playing music or basket-weaving, do something that gives you a sense of joy and creativity. Again, skip one of your social media breaks and do this instead. You’ll be glad you did.
Robert is an Executive and Business Development Coach. You can read him here or on www.younonprofitnow.com