If you’re a baseball fan (or even if you’re not), you can learn a lot from today’s guest post. Dr. Jason Selk reveals lessons he used to train the World Series winning Cardinals—and how the same principles can help your business grow.

During many springs, I helped the St. Louis Cardinals get into peak mental condition for their upcoming season. Back in 2006, I was hired by the St. Louis Cardinals to train them in mental toughness. They already had a coach to teach them the mechanics of pitching, batting, and fielding. What they needed was to learn how to set goals, focus on their priorities, stay positive, be disciplined, and win. I became their first Director of Mental Training, and that year they went on to win their first World Series in 20 years. I helped them win again in 2011.

The principles of mental toughness are as useful in the workplace as they are in the dugout. Here are five ways to train your business brain in mental toughness, taking a cue from the world champion Cardinals.

  1. Watch your swing; forget the home run. If you focus on your target, such as finishing the report, making the sale, or acquiring the new client, you may never get there. Pay attention to your process instead. Identify those daily goals that have the greatest influence on your performance and, therefore, your success. If your aim is to double your client load in one year, then figure out three specific tasks, or process goals, you need to complete each day that will help you reach that ultimate target. Then be relentless and consistent about completing your three process goals every day.
  2. Don’t take your eye off the ball. Many high-performing businesspeople believe they can multitask and still maintain focus. The American Psychological Association cites a study showing that multitasking leads to as much as a 40 percent drop in productivity. Recent research from Stanford University found that multitaskers are less productive than their single-minded counterparts, and also suffer from weaker self-control. Regain control of your performance. While completing the three essential tasks you identified above, turn off your cell phone and shut down your email.
  3. Be your own ref. If you want to be more productive, you need to establish your own limits–your “not to-do” list. This might include counterproductive tasks such as responding to company emails during family time, talking to clients after 3:30 p.m., or not saying yes right away to a new project, but giving your answer the next day, after you’ve slept on it. Be sure that you are scheduling your calendar rather than allowing your calendar to schedule you.
  4. Get R&R between workouts. Nearly 4 out of 10 workers are regularly fatigued, according to a recent study in the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine. Lack of sleep causes fatigue, and that’s a productivity killer. In fact, the rate of lost productivity for workers with fatigue was 66 percent, compared with 26 percent for workers without fatigue. Fatigued workers lost an average of 5.6 hours per week of production time. Make rest, rejuvenation, and 7-9 hours of sleep a priority.
  5. Listen to your body. When professional athletes try to push through the pain, they end up on the DL. In the workplace, this is known as “extreme working,” and it results in lower performance. New research found that 69 percent of extreme workers–super high achievers who regularly work 60-80 hours a week–admit that their extreme working habits undermine their health. Most of these workers can’t sustain this level of performance, and end up burning out, just like promising athletes who have to sit on the bench all season or retire early because of injuries.

Jason Selk, Ph.D., is the bestselling author of 10-Minute Toughness (McGraw-Hill, 2008) and Executive Toughness (McGraw-Hill, 2011). He is a regular contributor to ABC, CBS, ESPN, and NBC radio and television and has been featured in USA Today, Men’s Health, Muscle and Fitness, Shape and Self, among others. Dr. Selk uses his in-depth knowledge and experience from working with the world’s finest athletes, coaches, and business leaders to help individuals and organizations outperform their competition. Learn more at http://www.enhancedperformanceinc.com.

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