Whether they’re on the corporate or playing field, competitors need to keep their minds clear of the pressure that comes with their jobs, according to sports psychologist Kimberley Amirault-Ryan.
Success for both company executives and elite athletes will depend on how they deal with “burnout rate, the demands and the pressure,” said Amirault-Ryan, who helped prepare Canada’s Olympic team for the challenges of the Sochi Winter Games.
“We have a saying in sports that if you pay too much attention to people sitting in the stands, pretty soon you’ll be sitting with them,” Amirault-Ryan said today at the Bloomberg Canada Economic Summit in Toronto. “We really focus on that, and what are the ways to stay on track.”
Amirault-Ryan has worked as a consultant for sports teams including the Edmonton Oilers, Columbus Blue Jackets and New York Rangers of the National Hockey League, as well as the New York Knicks of the National Basketball Association, according to her website.
No matter how much experience competitors have, they need to always keep an open mind to learning new things, Amirault-Ryan said. This is a lesson she learned from Mark Messier, the former Oilers and Rangers star.
“He continually would always talk about being a beginner,” Amirault-Ryan said. “I realize now, he had kaizen - - the beginner’s mind. He was so good about taking off the blinders, and being hungry and curious to learn about new things.”