Fitness is an important requirement for every person, but more so for an entrepreneur. As leaders who are responsible for the growth of their businesses and the livelihood of employees, entrepreneurs need both mental and physical fitness in order to deal with disruptions and challenges that come their way. Our entrepreneurial education must, therefore, include an emphasis on improving the fitness of aspiring business leaders through sports-based programs.
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Fitness and exercise offer entrepreneurs multiple benefits that also help them in their own professional development and growth. These include:
Stress is an undeniable part of being an entrepreneur, especially during the current turbulent times. As leaders who are ultimately responsible for the success of a business, they must deal with multiple challenges, often in the course of a day, from implementing strategic decisions to dealing with vendors and managing a team. Studies show that regular exercise reduces the body’s stress hormones, such as cortisol and adrenaline. Not just that, it can actually leave one in a better mood, triggering the ‘feel-good’ endorphins in the body.
Nurturing a competitive spirit
Every businessman and woman understands the importance of competitiveness. It’s that drive that spurs us to stay a step ahead of our peers. But while staying competitive is important, it must also be based on continual self-scrutiny, improvement, and being respectful of the competition. These are the valuable lessons in competitiveness that we can learn from sports as it encourages us to hone our art. True sportsmanship teaches us to appreciate and learn from even those who are pitted against us.
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Sports demands a very high degree of discipline. Even maintaining a regular fitness routine requires one to be diligent about their time and commitments. These values, once embedded in a person, will carry forward in their professional lives, ensuring that one sticks to their schedule and work towards executing their responsibilities.
Learning the value of teamwork and leadership
Team sports teach us valuable lessons in communication, team building, and strategic decision-making – skills that form the basis of any entrepreneurship education program. Leaders on the sporting field must learn the art of effective communication, motivating others, while working with the strengths and weaknesses of each team member. Good sportsmen and women are also excellent strategists, capable of understanding the competition, devising an appropriate play, and then changing it as they read the situation on the ground. These are skills that are equally important in the board room, or, in fact, for any leader. When we include sports and fitness as part of our entrepreneurial education, it allows budding entrepreneurs to develop these skills in an unconventional and non-textbook manner.
Building physical and mental resilience
An entrepreneur must have the ability to overcome adversity and challenges that are a natural part of running any business. It requires mental resilience to overcome the occasional hiccup and stay focused on the larger goal. Sports teaches us that failure is a part of any road to victory and a necessary stage in reaching one’s full potential. Physical fitness can be equally important. Playing a sport or following a fitness regime helps build our stamina, which is a critical requirement for an entrepreneur who often has to balance long hours at work with personal commitments.
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Improving cognitive performance
Studies have shown that regular exercise can induce changes in brain biology, including structural and functional changes, that improve cognitive functioning. In other words, following a regular exercise routine can actually modify our brain, ensuring improved mental performance, improving our focus and memory.
An entrepreneur must ensure optimal mental and physical fitness to perform at their peak condition. Sports and fitness offer many more benefits that go beyond keeping one fit. It is a great stress-buster, helping one to stay focused, and develop leadership skills. Fitness must, therefore, be included as part of education for budding entrepreneurs.
~by Dr. Vijay Patil, MCA President and Chancellor of DY Patil University, Navi Mumbai~
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