by Jordan Babineaux, former NFL athlete and author of “Pivot to Win: Make The Big Plays In Life, Sports & Business“
Although I retired from the NFL eight years ago, many of the lessons that I learned as a professional athlete have been incredibly valuable in helping me build my second career as an entrepreneur and business consultant. I learned, for example, that every play in team sports is a combination of one-on-one battles. The team that wins the most games, wins their individual battles more. Peaks and valleys happen.
The key is: don’t peak too high, and don’t get too low. Focus on the now.
Think of what you do every day as a chance to win or lose.
This idea can be applied to everything that you do. Think of what you do every day as a chance to win or lose. You start with a plan, then enter small distractions that fight for your attention. Everything seems urgent and only you can put out the fires. It happens to us all, but remember, as in sports, the teams that outperform their opponents are holding the trophy at the end of the season.
It’s the same in business and in life — distractions can take you off course, but each day presents a chance to win or lose. I found out I was my greatest competitor, always seeking improvement. Presence is the best quality to have when distractions arise and can be the one thing to help transform your daily winning habits.
The Value of Developing a Winning Routine.
Football also forced me to learn about and appreciate routines. Developing a routine helps you increase your success rate. Someone who develops a routine expects good things to happen. A routine is simply a process of doing things that can influence your result. It doesn’t mean winning is automatic, but it does allow you to feel more in control and dictate the outcome. The day that I set foot in the Seattle Seahawks locker room, I started working on my routine. I didn’t have it down in the beginning and some things I learned by watching the older guys, but I quickly noticed that everyone on the team had their own routine.
If you watch a golf match, each golfer has a pre-shot routine. They envision the type of shot to hit, or the number of practice swings to take before approaching the ball, or confirmation from their caddy. Personally, I like to wiggle my toes before my backswing. Basketball players have a pre-shot routine every time they attempt a free throw. It doesn’t guarantee success, but it does allow them to envision what success could feel like by performing the same repeated formula.
I designed my routine around being the first. I had a practice routine to get taped and get to the field as fast as possible. I always used the same trainer, Donald, for everything medical related. “D-Rich,” as I called him, was my go-to guy for any injury concerns and treatment. Game days were special and had their own routine all the way up to kickoff depending on if we were home or away, but being first didn’t change. I knew what time to leave the hotel. I knew what time to be taped and on the field for warm-ups. I would always take the first bus on road games and be one of the first to arrive at the stadium at least three hours before kickoff. My weekly routine focused on recovery, injury prevention, and improving performance. It would sometimes take a full week to recover, but come Sunday, I had conditioned myself to do it again. It was vital to keep my body at peak levels, and each day of the week was part of the recovery process. Fridays were short practice days and heavy treatment to make sure by Sunday my legs felt light and fast. After practice, I would get one more upper-body lift, then sit in the cold tub for fifteen minutes. The cold tub is no fun. Trust me, I’ve seen grown men cry trying to will themselves into 40-degree water — myself included. These daily and weekly routines became second nature and gave me freedom to focus on the game. The worst thing is feeling rushed to do something. These routine practices gave me control.
Can you remember the last time you felt rushed? Like all of us, we run out of the house with no wallet, or forget where we put the car keys. The routine I developed removed all angst and tension. A routine is thinking ahead, anticipating what could happen, and planning. Routines aren’t perfect and you can always modify, but they are helpful. You too should consider developing your routine. What do you do when you wake up? How do you shut down in the evenings? If you nail these two routines, it will bring the peace of mind you’re looking for to feel more in control.
Jordan Babineaux, author of “Pivot to Win: Make The Big Plays In Life, Sports & Business” transitioned from nearly a decade playing in the NFL to become a sports broadcaster, entrepreneur, and business executive. He currently serves as the “voice” of the Seattle Seahawks on both television and radio, while also helping organizations, teams, and leaders navigate their pivots.