Proactive Management of Holistic Well-being x Unlimited Drive = Sustainable Peak Performance

Well-being has become a buzzword recently, following wellness, resilience, employee engagement, employee satisfaction, participative management, employee motivation and other attempts to encapsulate a magic formula that enables employees to feel like people (ends unto themselves) WHILE they are used as performance/production inputs (means to an end).

While I’m skeptical of the utility of looking to superstars as guides that the rest of us humans can emulate in our work and lives, Novak seems to have mastered a formula: 

Proactive well-being x unlimited drive = sustainable peak performance

Here are some key elements of his holistic formula for performance grounded in proactive well-being:

Diet – Djokovic keeps the kind of diet that makes Tom Brady look like a Guy Fieri disciple. No more Red Bull pizza here. Gluten? No. Meat? No. Sea algae smoothies? Yes. Alcohol? No, save the occasional sip of Italian wine. (“French is a bit too strong.”) Dairy-free. No refined sugar. An indulgence comes in the form of a square of chocolate.

Sleep quality – Djokovic monitors his sleep. He practices with a wearable device attached to his chest so he can track his biometrics.

Time / Focus prioritization – Djokovic recently turned down a video game endorsement because he didn’t believe in the product. He prefers to use that time to write in his journal or, better still, be present for his wife, Jelena, and their kids, Stefan, 9, and Tara, 6.

Holistic daily hygiene (habits) – “Get a good amount of sleep and recovery. Go outdoors. Be in nature. Eat well, drink. Hydrate. Exercise. Movement. Activity. [I] try to have this kind of a holistic, healthy approach.”

Disciplined mental preparation – “People think that because you’re talented physically, you’re also talented mentally to overcome these circumstances and situations on the court,” he says. “It’s not like that. It’s years and years of hard work and dedication and understanding yourself more than anything else. What is the formula—the emotional, psychological formula that works well with the physical to create success?” 

Proactively learning and consciously utilizing your own formula of mental cues and nudges – “In an individual sport, you have no one to really replace you if something is going in the wrong direction. You just have to keep things very simple and look for the cues and anchors that really bring you back to the moment.”

Breathing – “Conscious breathing is a big part. And people might not think that that’s part of the mental work, but it is. Conscious breathing is super important—especially in the moments when you’re under tension.”

Accepting and processing rather than running from or ignoring negativity – “As soon as I experience it, I acknowledge it. I, maybe, burst. I scream on the court. Whatever happens. But then I’m able to bounce back and reset quite quickly.”

Seeing work as “creation” rather than just performance – “I feel like I’m creating. That’s kind of a mindset I have.”


Purpose – Growth

Connection – Contribution – Meaning

Adapted from the following article by John Wertham on the Sports Illustrated website:

© Dana Cogan, 2024, all rights reserved.

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