The elements and field conditions are always a factor in athletic competition. Athletes are often under the mistaken perception that these conditions not only enhance or impair their performance but dictate it. Beliefs such as: green grass, clear skies and no wind “help” your game and rain, mud, extreme heat and cold “hurt” your performance. This is a broad generalization that leads to convenient excuses. You often hear athletes explain away bad performances: our team isn’t built for playing in the cold, we don’t play well on the road, the crowd really affected us today, I had trouble adjusting to the wind, etc..

Instead why not use adverse conditions to your favor by forming a positive mindset that turns these situations into a competitive advantage. You cannot simply call games or practice off due to the weather and go home. As a coach, I game plan for contingencies with my team: practicing in rain, cold weather, wet ball drills, mid-day heat, dusk, etc… I want my team exposed to competing in all conditions before the first actual competition each season. We cannot control the weather on game day, but we can control our response and our attitude towards it. “We’re at our best when conditions are at their worst” is our mantra.

How does foul weather affect our game plan?

1. Physical Technique: Be slightly more deliberate in your movement as conditions dictate.

2. FundaMENTALS: Focus on fundamentals, a change in game conditions does not necessitate a change in fundamentals. This is your solid foundation regardless of situation.

3. Comfort Level: The mental aspect of peak performance involves becoming comfortable with discomfort. Getting accustomed to the occasional numbness of biting cold and stiff winds as well as the feeling of thick humidity stealing your breath and heat zapping you of your energy at times.

4. Flexibility: Having a flexible game plan enables you to use situational awareness and anticipation to maximize your results in changing environments.

In your game plan for business success, there is no doubt that from time to time adverse conditions will appear. How do you respond? You can’t cancel the appointment and wait for better market conditions. The conditions are rarely perfect and in this economy they show no signs of significant improvement for the foreseeable future. If you wait for the perfect conditions in business you will never achieve your goals.

In today’s marketplace it is more important than ever to be comfortable with discomfort. We are experiencing times of change, fear, and uncertainty; the likes of which many have never seen before. Discomfort is inevitable, how you respond to it is controllable. Do you “call off the game and head back to the locker room” or do you stick to the game plan and find a way to win the day?

I apply a similar methodology in coaching my clients to respond to adverse “game day” conditions in the sport of business:

1. Physical Technique: Be consistent in your habits, while moving methodically & deliberately when market conditions dictate.

2. fundaMENTALS: There are certain foundational elements of business in each industry that should not change simply because change is occurring in the marketplace. Identify your fundamentals and continue to execute them.

3. Comfort Level: Being comfortable with discomfort is a competitive advantage. A certain level of discomfort accompanies all growth. Growth and innovation prevent complacency. Ask any coach and they will tell you their biggest concern in the locker room is a team satisfied with its performance. Have the wherewithal to persist through the conditions in the market.

4. Flexibility: In 2 critical areas:

a. Situational Awareness: Is my finger on the pulse of the marketplace in my industry? (W.I.N.-What’s Important Now?)

b. Anticipation: What changes do I anticipate taking place (this month, this quarter, this year)

Is our plan flexible enough to enable us to capitalize on these changes in our business environment?

Today’s challenging economy will simultaneously test our mettle and also provide us opportunities to reinvent our business and reinvent ourselves in the process. Just remember, the best of the best are great when the circumstances aren’t.