In a recent article in the Chicago Tribune about the growing trend of “sweatworking,” or combining networking opportunities with a trip to the gym, personal trainer and gym owner Jason Rodriguez says of the practice, “The great thing about sports or exercise is your true self is revealed.” Entrepreneur Tony Ricciardi adds, “People need to be vulnerable,” and claims exercise or other physical activities uncover that vulnerability.
I think one of the benefits of these activities is that they provide an opportunity to expose oneself to failure in a relatively safe setting. Fatiguing during a workout or making an error while playing a sport happen regularly, but the consequences to most of us are relatively minimal. We leave the gym or field and return to our everyday lives, not too much the worse for wear. But learning to respond to challenge and failure is an essential life skill that translates beyond physical activity. Those who are motivated by setbacks in training or sport seem likely to be similarly motivated in their careers and relationships. I can understand why prospective colleagues view sweatworking as a way to gain valuable insight into people they hope to collaborate with and depend on in the future.