I’ll admit it first. In my professional life, I’m attracted to associates, colleagues, or partners with interest in sports. At the minimum, I have a tendency to attract them. Why is that?
Since I believe they are based upon my own experiences and that of a lot of others, I’ve met that sports and achieving success in business are a perfect match. I think that those who played sports, even on an intermediate, far less at a professional or advanced level, were taught certain things early on that other people weren’t. This doesn’t necessarily apply to all. There are numerous business successes of individuals whose only goal in life was to become successful in business and who did not want to play sports. However, in general, I believe that playing sports early helps in establishing certain traits that are essential to booming business success later on in life. Most people, even if they’re in the minority, participate in sports before they make lemonade sales at an outdoor lemonade booth as an infant.
A quick side notes: when I say “playing sports,” I am referring to people who have dedicated a portion of their time to improving their skills and excelling at a high standard. Examples include: being on your school’s soccer team, winning an academic scholarship to college, and playing professional sports, or becoming a state-champion wrestler. What I’m not talking about is taking tennis lessons for beginners in the summertime, for a three-day surfing trip, playing golf at least once every two years, or shooting baskets on your driveway. You get my drift.
What is it about sports that are so effective in transferring to a successful business career later on? Let me give you my top four points. There are many more. However, I’ll save you as I could continue on for hours.
Discipline is the fundamental exercise, routine, or activity that helps to develop or improve the ability. To be successful, whether, in business, sports, or life in general, it is necessary to be disciplined. Since the majority of athletes are introduced to the sport at a very young age, before being exposed to any business-related activity and sports, it provides the first opportunity for kids to develop discipline. The longer you commit to an action, and the higher you get within that sport as you progress, the more disciplined and organized you become. True, talent alone can get some people quite far. However, everyone whom I’ve met that has participated in sports has learned to be disciplined. What is the way discipline gained from sport translates into business? Learning how to organize meetings. How to get out of bed to attend a crucial phone call or meeting. How to complete tasks and not just begin them.
This is a straightforward one. Sports and success in business require the teamwork of many. What’s the famous quote: ….”no one is an island in his own.” If you’re kicking the first ball of soccer or pass your first time on the court of basketball, you’re developing how to work in a team. The term “teamwork” is something that people use pretty quickly. For me, it simply signifies that you’re able to communicate effectively and efficiently between people. If you’re in business, even if you’re sole proprietor, you’re likely to have partners, customers, or suppliers who are part of your team and must communicate with and collaborate with effectively. This is a great example all the way to employees of large corporations. It is essential to learn how to collaborate with others in both ways, and sports can teach the skills needed to do that.
My most favorite. When people first begin to play activities, especially at a stage of beginning, it’s because they are eager to get into the sport. As they grow and get more proficient and skilled, the bar gets higher. Maybe the goal is to be on your own Little League team. Then, start with your Little League team. Then, make the city All-Star team. Then, make an all-school team. It’s easy to see, But sports is actually the primary thing (other than maybe getting excellent grades) that teaches kids from an early age to establish goals and how to grow by working hard for them, and then work towards the next target. In the business world, these traits are identical. The majority of people, if not everyone I know, don’t end their business careers in the exact place they began. There are a lot of twists and turns, often within the same field, but often in something entirely different. To ensure success in business, despite the many twists and turns, it’s essential to know how to establish goals and to implement the steps required to attain these goals. Sports can teach you this.
The first three items I’ve listed can be listed by anyone who has become proficient in a field other than sports and then used these skills to succeed in business. If, for instance, you were a top musician in your early years, it is likely that you experienced the qualities listed in numbers one through three. The fourth one is the competitive nature which makes sports distinct when it comes to the impact on business careers later on in their lives. Because sports are highly competitive in three ways: mental, spiritual, and physical, if you can develop the art of competing (while being a good sportsman and having respect for others) across all three areas, it can be very beneficial for business. People who do well in business who have also succeeded in sports can compete physically, for instance, by deciding when to go to bed and when to get up, and how to manage the level of energy. They also know how to be mentally competent, maybe by controlling your temper, understanding how to stay calm in times of stress, and learning how to outwit the competition. In the end, business and sports can be both highly spiritual in that if you have the ability to visualize your own future and the steps you must take to achieve it, the reality is often the way you imagine it. I’m not one for self-fulfilling prophecies, but I do believe that faith, focus as well as vision are all aspects of spirituality in business and sports.
My conclusion, and I’m guessing where my biases lie, is that sports and success in business can go hand-in-hand.