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“The Inner-Game” – Lessons from the World of Sports (Part 2)

November 4, 2011

A few days ago, we looked at Part 1 of the lessons that Insurance and Risk Management professionals can learn from how pro athletes manage their emotions.

In part 2, we look at some of the most important emotions that you must manage in today’s business environment to reach peak performance.

More Lessons from the World of Sports:

Motivation – An athlete’s desire to succeed must be stronger than his or her fear of failure.  Motivation is the key.  Motivation starts with a sense of purpose.  It is rooted within one’s heart and soul.  Playing with purpose and passion comes easily for athletes who are motivated by their desire to achieve.beyond insurance

Visualization – The power of visualization and mental rehearsal has been universally viewed as an effective means to  improve athletic performance.  Imagery, or visualization, is viewed as one of the most important mental skills for winning the mind game in sports.  It allows athletes to see themselves performing “In The Zone”.

Great athletes roll their mental camera before performances.  Confidence is the result of preparation.  Preparation begins with a mental game plan.

Positive Attitudes — Attitudes influence how an athlete acts and feels.  Positive attitude gives an athlete a competitive edge while negative attitude impairs peak performance – especially in team oriented contests.  It has been said that 10% of a performance is what happens to an athlete and 90% is how the athlete chooses to react to it.

Golfer Arnold Palmer kept the following saying in his locker: 

          If you think you are beaten, you are

         If you think that you dare not, you don’t

         If you’d like to win, but you think you can’t

         It’s almost certain you won’t.

         If you think you’ll lose, you’ve lost

         For out in the world you’ll find

         Success begins with a fellow’s will.

         It’s all in the state of mind.

         Life’s battles don’t always go

         To the stronger or faster man;

         But sooner or later the man who wins

         Is the man who thinks he can.

In a team setting, teammates are often mirror the athlete’s attitude.  Positive attitude  inspires others to succeed.  Negative attitude brings a team down.

Self Discipline – Great athletes are highly disciplined.  Hall of Fame athletes often look back upon their careers and understand that an essential ingredient to their success was self discipline.  Disciplined athletes are highly focused on goals and specific results. They are not focused on the challenge of their athletic performance, rather the rewards of achievement.

The profession of Insurance and Risk Management is not easy. It is a game that requires character, commitment, mental toughness, motivation and positive attitude. The insurance arena is our playing field. An understanding of the “Inner Game” helps us understand the impact of our emotions, actions and attitudes. The lessons learned in sports can help you and me reach peak performance.

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 or 610-945-1019.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. November 5, 2011 8:47 pm

    Another highly valuable contribution, Scott. Apart from my earlier reference to David Foster Wallace’s famous essay, “How Tracy Austin broke my heart,” there are two other points I would like to add to your thinking:
    1) To your point about athlete visualization. Two of the best examples of this are Olympic high jumpers or long jumpers. You will see them standing in great concentration before they launch themselves. They don’t move until they can mentally picture themselves sailing over the bar or legging through a high leap.
    2) The true professional is the one who can repeat success again and again. It was interesting to watch the Cardinals win the World Series after many trials and tribulations. Most of their players had not made it to the pinnacle before. They had no idea about the physical pain and need for endurance against set-backs they would experience in order to ultimately win…they were playing somewhat blind. It will be interesting to see how many of them have the stomach to do it again. Best, Peter

  2. November 7, 2011 1:29 am

    This is excellent Scott! I would like to share one point that one of my mentors shared with me that is along this same thought process:

    We can be disciplined, work hard, work our process dilligently, and have everything going for us, but we have to be able to mentally finish the race. He explained it to me like this: Paula, you can be prepared for that large account you have worked for all of your career. Your reputation can be stellar, your work product excellent, your company partnership the best in the business, but when it comes to getting on the elevator, and going up to the client’s office, you can not stop at the door. You have to open the door and enter with confidence. Peter, your comment really strikes me as the visualization of walking through that door and being able to see ourselves closing the deal with confidence. So many times, that is the piece that can not be taught. This is something that has to come from within.

    This is an excellent group and I’m so excited to be a part! Kindest Regards, Paula Burns

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