The life of a professional athlete is cyclical, peaking at competition.
The game or match is a 30-minute-to-three hour span when athletes are in the ring, on the field or court, when butts are in seats and the cameras go live. That’s ~5% of an football player’s work week. About ~15% for a basketball player. A boxer or mixed martial artist might only compete for 30 minutes in a year.
The rest of their time “on the clock” is filled with warm ups, cool downs, conditioning, skill development, film study and physical therapy. In their free time, the most committed of them follow prescribed, professionally prepared meal and supplementation plans. And then they sleep, some as much as 10 hours a day. All in an effort to peak at the moment when butts are in seats and the cameras go live.
Our sports obsessed culture spends so much time celebrating athletes and the work they put it but we so badly miss the point. Instead of building lives that maximize our abilities and potential, we “grind” by ticking boxes, zeroing that inbox, shuffling files around on desktops both physical and virtual. We sit through meetings and then joke about what a waste of time they were on our way out the door. We stay up late reading articles about the benefits of sleep. And in the process we lose opportunities be great at whatever things we have the ability to be great at.
It’s hard to peak at the right time when you don’t have other people managing your schedule, your work load, your diet and your rest. But simply looking for my “game day” each week has made it easier to focus on the most impactful work I can do day to day and then make decisions - when to rest, what to learn, what task to tackle or set aside - that will enable it.