The Human Performance of Your Business
Wednesday, July 5th, 2017
Ever heard the term human performance? If so, it was probably in reference to some sporting event you were watching, where the announcer talked about the athlete’s accuracy of pitch, speed in the pool, or distance the golf ball flew. We are drawn to sports simply because we get to witness humans performing feats of strength, speed and accuracy far beyond most of our capabilities. The field of kinesiology studies how to make these athletes better via human factors, physiology, biomechanics and psychology. So when you pair a naturally talented human with the latest science on how to make them perform better, we bear witness to the Micheal Phelps and Kobe Bryants of the world. And we smile with amazement.
Corporate America could gain a huge edge on its competition, if it began to learn from the world of sport and fitness. How so? Simple. Your body is a machine and all machines have capabilities and limitations. Your toaster can toast bread, but not muffins. Your car can handle the road, but has no ability to fly. Even your smart phone, as smart as it is, has a terrible design flaw that leads you to drop it all the time. The human body is no different. For all the great things it can do, it still has to shut down every day and sleep, has to consume energy every few hours and it gets very cranky if either is missed.
My goal is to help bring you useful information that can help you perform better at work and ultimately, improve the performance of your business. By understanding how to work with your body’s limitations and maximize it through various performance techniques, you can see, often immediately, how great you can truly perform.
For instance, did you know that between the hours of 3am-5am, you are in your deepest levels of sleep? Deep sleep is needed for the body to physically recover and repair itself. Here’s something you probably didn’t know: every afternoon between 3pm-5pm, you will feel sleepy. That’s because it has been 12 hours since you were in your deep sleep cycle and the body is wanting a nap. So here’s your performance tip: try not to schedule key meetings, important speeches or extended road travel during the hours of 3-5pm. You (or your audience) are more apt to mentally zone out, your performance won’t be top notch and you have a higher risk for accidents or mistakes due to fatigue.
Some of the world’s most tragic accidents, such as the Exxon Valdez, Chernobyl and Challenger explosion cited fatigue as a major contributing factor to these accidents. Research has shown that between 3-5am, people are at the highest risk for making mistakes because that’s the time they should be in deep sleep. Now think of all the occupations that work the night shift: police, airline pilots, and emergency room doctors. It makes you start to think, because YOU could be on the receiving end of these services. It only takes one key error to cause an impactful mistake that could hurt your company’s brand.
Sleep deprivation is correlated with chronic illness, so if you are getting sinus infections, colds or stomach problems, consider improving your sleep. It is a great way to boost your A-game. A word of caution for business travelers: you are more apt to get sick than the rest of us. Travel is stressful and chronic stress suppresses the immune system. One of the best ways to kick start your immune system (yes you guessed it), is with sleep.
Despite common folk lore, we never truly acclimate to working the night shift. Our bodies will take a hit and our performance has a high chance for being subpar. Truly great athletes protect their sleep time and so should you. Sleep isn’t a luxury, but a performance requirement of your machine. Use it wisely and it could be THE thing that sets your performance apart from everyone else in the boardroom.
Davana Pilczuk, PhD, is an award winning kinesiologist who specializes in the field of human performance. She is an avid speaker and writer, and has consulted for several Fortune 500 companies, universities and medical groups. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow her on twitter @DavanaHPG.