Anton Sten

I help companies define, design and launch world-class digital products.

Exercising your potential: As if

I recently travelled an hour and a half up north from Malmö to visit with some friends I haven’t seen in a long time (cause, you know). We decided to meet halfway to make traveling lighter and make the night even more special since we had tickets to see When We Were Kings. For those of you outside of Sweden who might not be familiar with WWWK, it’s a very popular Swedish podcast with an extremely niche focus on football. They drop one new episode every week and they go all-in! Their episode on Leo Messi? 11 hours. On Bayern Munich? Nearly 5 hours. Even topics like Greece’s Euro final win in 2004 is a whopping 3.5 hours and that’s more than twice as long as the actual game. Their storytelling is always really excellent, so I was almost just as exciting about the show as I was reuniting with my friends.

This show was focused on Sweden’s youth team in 2015 and their Euro win. I had expected a light evening with some laughs and, while I did get that, I also got something I wasn’t expecting. You see, if you think about it, football teams are not much different from many other businesses. Today, they can be billion dollar businesses - Barcelona, Real Madrid, Bayern Munich, Manchester United, Manchester City and Liverpool are all valued more than $4 billion - roughly the same as a company like Sonos or Zapier.

They also focused on the mental exercises that the team utilized in order to reach the final - and win. From the very beginning, the players were taught how to do HRV exercises. HRV stands for Heart Rate Variable and the exercises are essentially ways of reducing heart rate (stress and nervousness) in order to be able to make better decisions in the heat of the moment.

What really fascinated me though was an exercise they called ‘As if’. The idea was really to put the players (or co-workers in our case) in a different state of mind. So the challenge could be to play the ball ‘As if you’re leading 3-0 over Italy in the final’. The idea, of course, is to challenge the everyday norm and encourage players to make bolder decisions from a more positive mindset. The other week, Liverpool crushed rivals Manchester United 5-0. It was obvious to see how the players started reacting to situations differently as the score line changed. More creativity, more optimism and more determination.

Obviously this can be applied to any industry. My girlfriend, who is always thinking of new dishes to create, could choose to create a dish as if she already has two Michelin stars. As designers, we can design products as if we’re they are already considered best-in-class.

Whatever your profession might be, I’d love for you to do your work as if…

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