Playing sport regularly helps you deal with the stress of running a company, increases creativity and leads to better business performance, says Richard Armstrong of content marketing agency Kameleon
Sport plays a key role as an outlet in the day-to-day management of our company, [content marketing agency] Kameleon. It did when co-founder Mark Webster and I set up the business seven years ago, and continues to be prevalent in our lives.
Mark, who is a regular participant in Ironman races, ultra-marathons and triathlons, recently qualified to represent Team GB in triathlon for his age group.
Comparatively, I am a round-the-world yachtsman, classic Mamil (middle-aged man in lycra) cyclist and squash fanatic. Since the latter is more convenient to take part in, I have played every Tuesday (except holidays) for the past 10 years. Otherwise known as ‘aerobic chess’, it is a pretty intense hour, but works wonders for clearing the mind.
For me, the motivation to train, or compete in a sport at whatever level is a substantial aid when running a business. Being continually exposed to the idea of ‘you get out, what you put in’ is an invaluable lesson for all.
Sport also provides a wonderful opportunity to gain perspective. One of my main motivations to sail boils down to not wanting to take the well-trodden path, instead looking for a more inspirational route and a sense of adventure.
Squash is easier to explain. For one hour a week I can be completely and utterly absorbed in a single physical and mental activity which is as far removed from work as possible.
From the calm serenity of being on the water to the intensity of the squash court, sport allows individuals to step away from the rat race, an escape that should not be taken for granted in our always-connected world.
The release sport provides is vital – keeping us fresh, both physically and mentally. There’s a correlation between running a business and keeping fit – each requires stamina, training and innovation; it’s just a different set of muscles.
Sport has the ability to instil confidence in an individual, a huge benefit when faced with many of the challenges a business can offer.
Our participation in sport has played a massive part in our capability to launch and run a successful, high-stress business. The familiarity of hard graft, discipline and tenacity honed in a sporting environment are all key ingredients in forming the belief that when you put the hours in, success will follow.
A debate I sometimes find myself engaged in is that very few people can be both good at sports and creative. Nonsense; for me, everyone has the ability to be both, but like anything in life some people just have to try a little harder at one or the other.
Sport breeds creativity, no one has ever had a good idea by locking themselves in a room and staring at a wall, whereas sport often demands creativity to beat an opponent, or your personal best.
I encourage everyone in business, from junior execs, right up to the titans of industry, to play sport; the benefits are there to be seen.
And as much as I do love a beer after work, finding common ground with a client while playing sport, or doing exercise, is a great way to cement relationships. Plus, you have then well and truly earned your beers afterwards.
Richard Armstrong is co-founder of Kameleon