Just as the quarterback is pumped up with sports psychology tactics before each game, many sales people and other working stiffs use the analogies of the football field to get them going. Sports psychology is a form of mental motivation. Its goal is to get the players to perform at their peak capacities, a trait business managers long for as well. And the techniques can work quite effectively in many different work settings.
Teamwork is an essential key to successful business ventures. The team metaphor is one of the easiest principles to transfer from sports psychology to the workplace. On a sports team, every player, no matter the role, is oriented towards the ultimate goal of victory and outstanding team performance. Team players think about the team goals rather than their own personal preferences; passing the ball is just as important as scoring. In the workplace, team psychology is used to cultivate enthusiasm, personal responsibility, a sense of community, purpose and belonging in individual employees. Dedication to the team can reduce laziness, greed, mixed motives and unwillingness to do the less glamorous parts of a job.
Sports psychology uses methods of visualization to help athletes imagine success and good performance in their minds. This can effectively be transferred to the workplace when employees use visualization to focus on completed goals rather than obstacles. By orienting towards the possibility of a job well done, no matter how difficult the task, success becomes more possible. In addition to longer term project success, visualization helps employees internalize new skills with confidence. Visualization is an efficient tool for developing motor skills and muscle memory, often needed when a worker learns a new aspect of the job, just like the golf pro does when she gets a new club in her bag.
A positive focus can be cultivated in many ways by the team and by the individual. A positive focus means emphasizing the things that the team or individual wants to do, rather than those things they would like to avoid. In sports, the successful team or player focuses on the positive goal of winning the game, rather than a negative goal like avoiding a loss. Positive focus in the workplace means that the team and the individuals emphasize their strengths, moving towards success rather than running away from failure. Positive self-talk and affirmations can be used by individuals, and co-workers can use encouraging words to help each other see strengths.
Sports psychology is about making the most of each moment with the resources available. Obstacles to goals and shortcomings on a personal and team level need to be identified and addressed. While the team focuses on success, it also strives to find solutions to make up for the deficit in talent or tools. Just as a baseball team without a winning pitcher is off-balance, an office team without a powerhouse project manager may have difficulty reaching its goals. Balance allows for realistic goal setting, with an understanding of what is needed for success. Through balance, the team and the individuals on the team can honestly assess themselves and make improvements rather than denying problems and continuing to lose.
Linda Ray is an award-winning journalist with more than 20 years reporting experience. She's covered business for newspapers and magazines, including the "Greenville News," "Success Magazine" and "American City Business Journals." Ray holds a journalism degree and teaches writing, career development and an FDIC course called "Money Smart."