Women at Work: Act Like a Lady, Play Ball Like the Guys

Five reasons why women should think like athletes to get ahead at work and in business

You gain perspective. Mellody Hobson, president of Ariel Investments and BE contributor today trains as a swimmer and marathoner. Her swimming instructor makes her swim the length of the pool holding her breath. If she fails, he forces her to start from the beginning. The pool has become a metaphor for her work environment. As a result, Hobson has learned that it’s possible to succeed if she relaxes and remains calm in the midst of pursuing a goal that may appear to be stressful or unattainable.

Of her marathon experiences she has learned that long-distance running is as much a mental test of will as it is a physical challenge: Heading out of the starting gate is exciting; by mile 15 you question the reasoning behind the effort; at the 20-mile mark you’ve developed a solid momentum and can see your way to the end; and at mile 26, you’ve completed the goal and are ready for a new challenge. It’s a process, Hobson explains, that is much like starting a new project at work. You have to stay steady and focused throughout the journey–even the challenges.

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