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“The Inner-Game” – Lessons from the World of Sports (Part 1)

November 1, 2011

As you are about to discover, the emotions and lessons learned in sports have tremendous applicability to our daily work as insurance and risk management professionals. 

As a psychology major and student athlete at Princeton University, I had a curiosity to understand the mental aspects which create success or failure in sports and in life – the Inner Game.  As you review the emotions listed below you’ll immediately realize how insurance and risk management professionals face many of the same challenges professional athletes do.

Lessons from the World of Sports:beyond insurance

Mental Toughness – An essential ingredient in achieving success in sports is the athlete’s ability to focus on a task and  not let negative thoughts intrude.  A key strategy to confront mental toughness is one’s ability to handle pressure.

Great athletes have a warrior mentality.  They stand tall even in the most difficult of circumstances.  They understand the importance of demonstrating confidence and poise to their teammates, coaches and fans.

Self Image – An athlete’s positive self-image is essential to success. A negative self-image can hinder the performance of even the most gifted athlete.  Because athletes must learn how to deal with anxiety, fear and distractions, positive self-image is an essential ingredient to achieve success.

Commitment – Amazing athletic performances just don’t happen.  They are a result of tremendous dedication, determination and sacrifice.  Commitment starts in the athlete’s heart and soul. In life, as in sports, there is no substitute for commitment. beyond insurance

Goal Setting – Athletes are experts at setting goals.  At a young age, they learn that goals are essential to their development.  Goal achievement brings rewards.  Success cannot be measured or achieved without setting specific goals.

Fear of Failure – Fear creates tension, doubt and panic.  Fear of failure impacts an athlete’s ability to achieve performance at the highest level.  It increases muscle tension as well as the athlete’s heart and respiratory rates.  Fear of failure causes narrowed perception and attention as well as diminished cognitive flexibility.  Fear of failure is the toughest opponent many athletes ever face.  When the athlete is not afraid to fail, his or her chances of success improve dramatically.

As you are starting to see, the same emotional battles that play out in the head of an elite athlete are the same emotion battles that successful individuals face in the insurance and risk management business.

In our next post we’ll explore 4 more important emotions and reveal the note Arnold Palmer kept in his locker to keep a positive attitude!

Scott Addis

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The author, Scott Addis is the President and CEO of The Addis Group and Addis Intellectual Capital, LLC (AIC). AIC is a coaching and consulting company whose purpose is to transform the process that insurance agents, brokers and carriers use when working with clients. Scott is recognized as an industry leader having been awarded the Inc. Magazine’s “Entrepreneur of the Year” Award as well as “25 Most Innovative Agents in America”. Scott can be reached at

3 Comments leave one →
  1. November 4, 2011 2:02 pm

    Some more valuable points, Scott. For readers who wish to get deeper into this topic, they might want to read David Foster Wallace’s essay in the book “Consider the Lobster” (Back Bay Books, 2006) entitled, “How Tracy Austin Broke my Heart.” Best, Peter


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