What can entrepreneurs learn from high-performance athletes?

Framework curated by Erin Wynn, Manager of Education and Evaluation at MindFrame Connect

Peak performance as an entrepreneur entails having clear goals, being unafraid of failure, and taking care of your mind and body while working in high-pressure environments. In many ways, these experiences echo those of high-performance athletes, who train diligently to succeed at some of the highest levels in sport. Julia Rivard Dexter is a tech entrepreneur, community leader, and Olympic kayaker, who has highlighted the following approaches that have supported her approach as an athlete and as an entrepreneur.

Mindset Training

“You have to push through what you think is possible, and fail a lot […] I’ve transferred ‘anything is possible’ into every part of my life”

Entrepreneurs and Olympians target ambitious goals and will go through many setbacks on their journey to meet them. Sports psychologists, coaches, and training centres have designed comprehensive regimes that support the mindset of their athletes to ensure they are mentally conditioned for the highs and lows of this journey. Entrepreneurs should be adopting similar approaches to enhance the mental game of venture building. By taking your mindset, mental health, and wellness routines seriously, you can prevent burnout and prepare yourself for peak pressure moments.

To learn more about resilience for entrepreneurs, visit our library here.

High-Performance Mentorship

“The mentors that I’ve really appreciated have been champions. […] They were patient and caring, they never made me feel like I was asking silly questions.”

Mentors for high-performance entrepreneurs should borrow from sports psychology by adopting an approach to relationship development that prioritizes psychological safety and creates a dynamic that allows mentees to explore difficult or vulnerable topics. In Olympic training, coaches and athletes work together to identify pain points or areas of improvement and address how to tackle them as a team. In entrepreneurship, mentors should see themselves as supportive guides for their mentees and be able to challenge constructively – this means you still identify difficulties but do so in a way that shows you care about the growth and success of your mentee.

To learn more about The Principles of Mentorship, visit our library here.

High-Performance Menteeship

“Asking is the big step you have to take. Preparation is really key, coming to the table with some really good questions.”

Athletes and coaches who work together to achieve a shared goal are able to break down their primary desired outcome into smaller goals or checkpoints. For entrepreneurs working with mentors, a similar approach should be taken. Providing clarity to a mentor falls on the mentee’s shoulders; What kind of support do they need? What are their ultimate goals? What are self-identified growth areas they would like to work on? Setting SMART goals and working together to achieve them will greatly enhance mentee performance.

To learn more about The Principles of Menteeship, visit our library here.

Further Reading

7 Lessons Entrepreneurs can Learn from Elite Athletes

Five Strategies Winning Female Entrepreneurs Developed as Athletes

What Entrepreneurs Can Learn from a Sports Psychologist for Olympians

What the Best Mentors Do
Harvard Business Review

Preparing for your First Mentoring Session
MindFrame Connect x Quin Sandler (CEO of Plantiga)

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