How to Train (and Conquer) Like Wonder Woman

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During her early days on Themyscira, Diana Prince, aka Wonder Woman, spent her days completing repetitive training regimens. As she mastered one skill, her aunt and trainer, Antiope, would add on new challenges to build endurance, strength and character. Each new challenge and repetition helped strengthen Wonder Woman’s muscle memory, which enabled her to focus on strategic decisions.

In turn, this strategy allowed her to get everyone on her team engaged with the same goals by transforming their strengths and desires into a team of change agent disruptors who work for the common good.

Being an agent of change is an endurance sport. Or, more specifically, it is a marathon filled with sprints. With training and the right coaching, you can build muscle memory that accelerates innovation and impact rather than detracts from it. Who better to ask for help than experienced innovators who also just so happen to be dedicated athletes outside of the office?

Dorit Shackleton, Vice President and Head of Integration at SAP Global Corporate Affairs, and Colleen Phelps, Founder and Coach of Strivers Running Club for Girls, share their secrets to building muscle memory every day of the week without the boredom that often comes with repetition.

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Cultivate a practice of discipline and iteration.

While technology has leveled the playing field of marketing, social media has also created a noisy marketplace where large-scale campaigns can fall short of expectations and cause internal turmoil inside the walls of an organization. Shackleton has built her career on enabling leaders to break through the noise and distraction while providing a platform for uniting leaders with differing objectives.

“My goal is always to help get the best results for the company every time and avoid duplication or silo thinking,” says Shackleton.

Starting with basics and common sense, Shackleton created a playbook to help others align several executive stakeholders, even in an extraordinarily dynamic landscape. The playbook includes clear steps for what to do before, during and after your launch.

“The playbook outlines and tracks inputs, outputs, frequency and timing. Because the guess work is taken out, we avoid unnecessary inefficiencies and missed opportunities that come with reinventing the wheel,” says Shackleton.

Do not underestimate the importance of cross-training to ensure that your athletes are fully engaged and enabled and that your program remains competitive. Shackleton says, “My goal is to always refresh and review the integrated playbook approach, keep it front of mind for people and take in new feedback and ideas, to keep it fresh and above all, useful.”

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Build on your successes.

Strivers, the company Phelps launched eight years ago, has blossomed into a rite of passage for many middle school girls in the metro-west region of Massachusetts. Phelps created her business when she saw a lack of opportunities in sports for middle school girls.

Every season brings a new set of personalities, motivations and team culture, which Phelps and her team embrace and leverage as a way to continually perfect the program. “After eight years, we can identify what works best and we continue to build on the success of the main elements of our business while also looking to keep the program fresh, challenging and current,” says Phelps.

Focus on training for hard and soft skills that do more than build muscles for personal strength. Phelps says, “Combining endurance training with community volunteerism, we teach girls to run a 5k race while simultaneously building personal character and self-esteem as well as collective girl-power and civic responsibility.”

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Build muscle memory while on the job.

When you create change and disruption for a living, every day presents a new set of challenges and opportunities. Making your mark on the world does not require you to be the smartest, the prettiest or the most connected. It does require that you have grit. Sometimes, those who make it are the ones who come back every day, ready to face their own disruption.

Whenever I am bringing something big into the world for the first time, I make a list of all the reasons the venture will fail. After prioritizing the most critical real and potential challenges, I chart out what I know and what new muscle I have to develop. From there, I create a training program that informs how I get the work done instead of being something I do in addition to my work.

Focus on building, not on achieving, and the results will come.