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There is a school of thought that striking a balance between professional life and extracurricular activities allows you to work towards a healthy body to facilitate a healthy mind. Not an easy task as demands increase in our profession and we increasingly discover that in the fast paced world of PR, dedication, effort and real time expectations require us to seemingly be on the job 24/7.
One of the ways that I personally work on keeping myself in balance is by going to the gym on a regular basis. Over the years, I have been a member of quite a few different types of fitness facilities ranging from a local YMCA to an apartment complex gym to a larger corporate style franchise “super” gym. Regardless of the environment (which, if you have ever been in different types of gyms can be quite different) there are skills I have polished in the gym over the years that translate into how I effectively practice PR. Here are 5 of them:
- Discipline – Anyone who belongs to a gym can tell you that occasionally it can be difficult to drag yourself in after a pressured filled day packed with meetings, pitches, phone calls, brainstorming, analyzing, public speaking, copy writing and every other activity in the life of a PR pro. I can recall many times where I have wanted to go straight home after work and just lie on the couch and close my eyes for the evening. Instead, I discipline myself to visit the gym on a consistent basis and keep my long term fitness goals top of mind so I don’t lose sight of the connection between maintaining the balance I strive for. Translation – Effective PR requires a high level of discipline.
- Measurement – Admittedly, I am a bit geeky when it comes to measuring my performance at the gym by carrying a notebook around and meticulously keeping track of days, sets, weight and exercises. But how else would I be able to gauge my progress and know what areas need tweaks and adjustments to show more results? Translation – Effective PR requires constant tracking, measurement and adjustments.
- Planning – From the moment I pull into the parking lot, I begin to plan out what my workout will be. What body parts am I focusing on? What exercises should I mix in? How can I change up my routine and break some nonproductive habits I may be falling into? What do I hope to accomplish with my workout? What areas do I need to focus on and improve? Translation – Effective PR requires constant planning, prioritization and thinking ahead.
- Etiquette – If you have ever worked out in a crowded gym, chances are you are familiar with “gym etiquette.” Re-rack your weights, wipe down a machine after use, use earphones with audio devices, don’t talk on your cell phone (which to me is the most egregious of gym violations), allow others to work in with you at peak times, wear proper clothing, etc. These may seem obvious, but not everyone obeys the rules that are put in place for the benefit of all. Translation – Following proper etiquette is a cardinal rule of PR.
- Communication – Most can agree that gym time is your time. It’s a time to plug in the iPod and get consumed in our thoughts, quietly observing as we go out our business. Most people walk into a gym with the expectation that they won’t have to, or don’t feel they need to communicate for any reason. After all, you pay your dues and expect to be left alone when working out, right? I take a slightly different approach. With a sense of delicacy to the environment, I try to communicate as much as possible with others when appropriate. I practice my networking skills by striking up a conversation with a stranger or make eye contact with someone who may be waiting for a piece of equipment I am using to open the door for a chance to communicate. Over the years I have found that proactively communicating with others in this environment has honed my communication skills and taught me how to read and decipher things like body language, gestures and posture to be a more effective communicator. Translation – Successful PR Pros are proactive communicators especially in situations that may be uncomfortable, public and require initiative.
Whether it’s fitness or another activity outside of our work routine, successful PR Pros strike a balance to maintain equilibrium in their lives. What is your balance and how has it helped you to polish your PR skills?