5 Extreme Sports and How They Can Make You a Better Leader

Published: 4 April 2022

We’ve spent the last few weeks deeply contemplating the link between the adventurer and the entrepreneur. Both possess a taste for the unknown and unexplored, a natural inclination for leadership and an insatiable thirst for conquest. But how can we begin to expand our horizons by not only tapping into the thrill of the adventurer’s way of living, but by learning the important lessons of courage, grit, adaptability and determination that tend to make these trailblazers respected leaders and experts in their field?

It’s simple – start putting yourself in situations beyond your comfort zone that test your mettle, and what more apt than trying an extreme sport? Let’s look into some of the most popular extreme sports and the lessons they contain for leaders.

Surfing & Kiteboarding

Extreme sports are characterised by performing them under conditions that are beyond human control. Surfing and kiteboarding (to name a few) rely on a clandestine-esque balance of natural phenomena in order to be performed safely and successfully. Think wind strength and direction, tides, wave height, currents, swells and more. Often these conditions can change unexpectedly and with little warning. This is much like the SME landscape, forcing riders to adapt quickly and prioritise their own safety, as well as that of those around them.

As a business owner, you know that success can ebb and flow like the tides. When the water is rough, it’s important to know when to swim against the current and when to release control and go with the flow. And even though you may bail today, with hard work, forethought and the right conditions, tomorrow you could catch the wave that carries you right to the shores of success.

Trail Running

Compared to road running, trail running requires heightened endurance, excellent balance and constant awareness of the obstacles ahead. Knowing when to slow down and speed up in order to preserve your stamina is also a key component.

In pursuit of perfection, it’s clear that slow and steady wins the race. While trail runners may not keep up with the pace of their roadrunning counterparts, experienced trail runners can spot obstacles in a split second. They are able to react, rebalance, or even reroute if needed. Part of being a business owner is understanding that the path to success isn’t linear, nor is it smooth or easy. Improving your reaction time to roadblocks is a surefire way to save time in the long term.

Mountain Biking

You may be thinking, “Surely trail running is much more taxing on the body than traversing the same rugged terrain with a bike?” Off-road biking comes with its own unique set of challenges and skills. Not only are many trail running attributes applicable (endurance, balance, core strength), but mountain biking necessitates the excellent coordination and skill required to manoeuvre rough terrain at high speeds.

Preparation is key in many extreme sports, but a key component of mountain biking is the importance of self-reliance. Often trails are incredibly remote and not easily traversed. Being prepared and having faith in your ability to succeed are paramount to your own safety. Just as in business, while failure is never off the table, adequate research, planning and preparation can go a long way in overcoming challenges as they crop up without throwing you off course.

Rock Climbing

If there ever was an analogy for the journey of a Business Owner, climbing the side of a rock face using nothing but a rope and the strength of your body in pursuit of reaching the summit must be it! One of the top tips for climbing newbies is to use your legs for heavy lifting. Think of these as your base skills – the things you know you are good at and that have historically led you to success. Another piece of advice is to take regular breaks to avoid over-exhaustion. Pushing oneself too far more often than not simply ends in injury. Taking regular breaks to recover, restock and refocus is something we can all attest to!

And while much of your journey depends on your own strength, success can only be achieved through proper use of the resources at your disposal. Ensure your gear is strong and reliable. plot your route ahead of time, including possible pitfalls. Surround yourself with fellow climbers who you can trust to catch you when you fall.

Paragliding & Skydiving

While we understand that this may not be everyone’s cup of tea, skydivers are encouraged to not close their eyes during the plummet. After all, it’s a view like no other! Listening and speaking to your instructor can also go a long way in calming your nerves and ensuring your safety during descent.

Sometimes in business, it all comes down to a leap of faith. While it never gets easier, learning to trust yourself, your intuitions and your past experiences is something that comes with practice. The journey can often be one fraught with anxiety, stress and the occasional moment of panic. It is certainly one like no other and should not be overlooked. And much like a business endeavour, be it flop or fortune, once bitten it’s almost impossible not to go back for more.

Aside from the many lessons that extreme sports have in common with those learned on the path to business success, a sense of adventure seems to be ingrained in the spirit of every great entrepreneur. Do you find yourself unable to resist the call of adventure? Do you feel most inspired outside the four walls of your office? We want to give South African Business Owners a chance to showcase their adventurous spirit, both in and out the office.

Submit your business BHAG (Big Hairy Audacious Goal) for 2022, as well as a photo or video of you that captures your adventurous spirit when you’re off the clock, and you could stand a chance to WIN a brand new Apple Macbook Air 256GB!

Enter now to show us how you are Adventurous by Nature.