An enormous amount has been written on the virtues displayed by sporting heroes and how emulating them in the workplace is a path to success. Dedication, teamwork, leadership, tenacity and the ability to push oneself are all elements that can deliver success in any endeavour, whether on the pitch playing first class cricket or engaging in the everyday functions of your job.

However, beyond these surface level traits, there are additional behaviours and elements of psychology that can be the difference between a one-off above average performance and consistent world-class results. Applied to a career context, these techniques can produce equally impressive outcomes.


It’s no secret that people who define and document goals give themselves a better shot at success than those who do not. But when based on a guiding purpose informed by personal values, the pursuit and attainment of goals takes on a new dimension of importance and satisfaction.

As an example, a tennis player may have a goal of winning a grand slam. But if they have a personal purpose of spreading a message of inclusive participation and making the sport accessible to everybody, the goal of winning the grand slam becomes more than a career objective – it becomes a vital step towards fulfilling the individual’s greater purpose (or what Abraham Maslow would call self-actualisation).

Incredibly effective goals like this start with identifying your values, in turn using them to define your purpose. Each goal set throughout your career then highlights milestone moments on the journey to achieving higher order life objectives and living on purpose.


I have written previously about the power of being “in the zone”, the fundamental characteristic of flow psychology. Elite athletes seem to be able to find their zone more readily than others.

Is this because they are more motivated, and are essentially groomed and conditioned to be able to achieve this state of being completely in tune with the task at hand? While this certainly helps, there is more to it than that.

Elite athletes are far more adept at analysing moments of success and identifying antecedents of high performance. They are aware of and begin to actively seek out the vast array of physical, psychological, environmental and social ingredients that blend together to facilitate top-level performance.

A handy exercise is to look back on instances of success in your own life and try to work out what was going on around you, what behaviours you adopted and what thought processes you engaged in attaining the achievement. Understanding the conditions in which you perform at your peak is a strong step towards improving performance and achieving consistency.


Having a coach who has a deep understanding of your personality, thought patterns, behavioural drivers and motivators provides athletes with an immense competitive advantage.

At the highest level, the relationship between athlete and coach is forged through years of work, hard-earned trust and a strong personal connection. This level of understanding enables the coach to invest in the values and purpose of the athlete while providing comprehensive and targeted assistance in the pursuit of goals, and offers the athlete a greater chance at achieving success – on purpose.

This concept works equally well within the framework of an individual’s career. Having an experienced, supportive and authentic coach with a strengths-based approach can be the difference between just having a job versus embarking on a career journey that is fulfilling, in line with your values and delivers heightened satisfaction.

* InnerZone takes principles from the world of elite sport and fuses them with in-depth psychological research to provide a range of coaching programs. Our aim is to enhance your holistic wellbeing by aligning your values with your career, thought patterns and behaviours, and assisting you to “live on purpose”. For more information visit

Richard Burton – InnerZone Founder and CEO

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