Mental coach Paddy Upton on 5 ways entrepreneurs can get ahead
Now Reading
Mental coach Paddy Upton on 5 ways entrepreneurs can get ahead

Mental coach Paddy Upton on 5 ways entrepreneurs can get ahead

The key principles that help sports stars get ahead are the same principles that can help business professionals and entrepreneurs stay on top of their game, according to Paddy Upton

Gareth van Zyl

Cricketing and mental coach, South African-based Paddy Upton, has straddled the worlds of both business and sport, and helped high performance athletes and CEOs alike get ahead.

Apart from helping to lead the Indian Cricket Team to its 2011 World Cup victory as well helping South Africa’s Proteas become the number test team in the world for a period of time, he’s also coached business executives and delivered more than 250 keynote addresses in over 40 cities and five continents.

Upton is also a Professor of Practice at Deakin University Business School (Melbourne, Australia). To boot, he’s an author of the best-selling book, “The Barefoot Coach. Life-changing insights from coaching the world’s best cricketers.”

Upton was recently in the Gulf Business studio where he gave some insights into five ways that entrepreneurs and professionals can improve their state of mental and physical wellbeing to help them get ahead.

A summary of his key points of advice is listed below, while you can also watch him talk it through on a podcast that we recently recorded with him.

What follows below is an interview snippet with Paddy Upton on how startup founders and business leaders can be at their best, mentally and physically.

Gareth van Zyl: Paddy, obviously you deal a lot with big corporate and with a lot of the high flying CEOs out there. But have you ever dealt with with startups and with angel investors? And if you have what’s your take on that space?

Paddy Upton: The principles of success are universally applicable. Let’s go and look at what’s tried and tested. If I go across to sports …. what are the most important things for the teams that are going to win or the team that’s going to win the World Cup?

What we know is that the winning teams are going to attend to the basics the best. That’s your foundation for success. Do the basics really well. So what are the basics for a startup? Well, a startup, it relies very often on one individual. If you’re the individual, you’re the instrument of that business. You need to fine tune yourself as an instrument.

What are the fundamentals of that? You need to be in a great space physically, mentally, emotionally, to be able to make the right decisions and sustain it and bring the energy. It’s so simple and it’s so unsexy, but one of the most important things that we need to do is get good sleep. If you’re not getting good sleep and if you’re compromising your sleep by one or two hours per night; within four to five days most people will be pre-diabetic already. Based on that, the body will naturally crave sugar and will want it will crave fatty foods. So your diet will go for a ball of chalk. If you’re tired, you will eat badly.

If you eat badly, you will not want to exercise. It will impair your mental, your functioning, your decision making, your patience, your tolerance, your understanding. So the entire quality that you bring to the instrument of leadership or as an entrepreneur will be significantly compromised if you get those basics wrong. So as an entrepreneur, you eat well, sleep well and do your exercise.The fourth basic piece that is so important is relationships. Make sure the important relationships in your life, family and friends are there because that’s what sustains us. And then business is about relationships. Today. People like doing business with people they like and they trust. Yes, you need a decent product. Yes, you need a decent price point. But that’s not enough to go the distance. You need to have great relationships. 

And the fifth point is stress. Managing stress as an entrepreneur, as a startup, there’s a lot of stress. Yes, you will have late nights. Yes. You will have difficult decisions. Yes, you’re going to wonder where is my next deal coming from, and am I even going to get generate some revenue sometimes?

Where’s my next meal coming from? Yes, that is stressful. It’s all about how well are you managing the stress. Because if that gets the better of us, it undermines our ability to perform and it also stress is a killer if it happens for any length of time. So what are you doing to manage your stress? And fortunately, sleep, eating well and exercise are three of the best stress management tools and then, of course, good relationships.

So those five things that I’ve said sleep, nutrition, exercise, relationship stress management, they’re not sexy, they’re not cool, but they are the fundamentals. And then from there, again, what do we draw from athletes in a really high pressure situation? Pressure and fear comes from the mind being either stuck in the past on something that’s gone wrong. If you think about something has gone wrong enough, you will undermine your confidence.

Or if your mind is stuck and spending too much time in the future, either desperately chasing success, then that creates pressure. Or, if you’re scared of failing, that creates fear. Pressure and fear are two of the biggest mental obstacles to success in sport, in life, and particularly with entrepreneurs. So what are you looking to do is that whatever has gone wrong or in the past, you need to learn from that and move on fast.

Yes, you want to look at what success do I want to achieve and what failure do I want to avoid. Use that as information and the you say, right, what is my plan to set up for success, and what’s my plan to avoid failure? Then you need to come back into the present moment and focus on executing. Then, you won’t have any mental stress pressure, fears, anxieties.

If you feel pressure, stress, anxiety, it’s because your mind is stuck in the future, and you’re too desperate for things to go well or too scared for things to go badly. That will happen. It will compromise your performance and you will make mistakes and be less impactful. So there’s some real basic stuff that’s universally applicable.

You might also like


Scroll To Top