I recently created a presentation for my networking group on the business lessons we can learn from elite athletes. It was information that I knew but didn’t always put into practice. Having to prepare a talk on the topic familiarized me with the subject and spurred me to action. Here’s the lessons we can learn… I hope they are useful to you as well.
- Know what you’re trying to achieve – The truth is you’re never going to get anywhere if you don’t know where you’re going. Many times as a business owner/entrepreneur we have these lofty goals that seem, just that, lofty. They’re vague goals without aim. An elite athlete, on the other hand, may have high ambitions (play pro ball) but also are well aware of the smaller goals and what they need to be doing now to achieve their dreams. They are aware that they have to work to get where they want to go and can’t simply rest on their natural abilities. They’ll put in the extra time and work needed to get where they want to go, and often break it down into micro-goals (achievable) goals to get there.
- Mental Toughness/ Pressure – Both executives and athletes alike often have to not only work in chaos but thrive in chaos. Athletes don’t fear pressure. They thrive in it. They must learn to perform their best despite all the stress, not allowing themselves to shrink from it, but rather stay true despite it. Many times there are so many things going on that it can be difficult to focus if you don’t hone the ability to do your job while the craziness surrounds you. As entrepreneurs and executives, we should learn to work under pressure while maintaining situational awareness so we can not only survive in the chaos, but thrive.
- The Right Training – Athletes develop relationships with people who can help them get better. Coaches, mentors, trainers, and more. They’re good at analyzing and knowing the skills they need to improve upon and they train to do just that. As business owners we need to take a cue from elite athletes and work to get the right training that shores up our weaknesses and helps us improve ourselves and our businesses.
- Practice – Athletes practice more than they compete. A college athlete generally practices 20 hours and week, and a professional 40 or more. Their methods includes training, mentoring, stretching assignments, as well as assessing their strengths and weaknesses before game time. They have reliable processes in place to help them achieve their best. We should take a cue from these athletes and assess our strengths and weaknesses as well as train to become better. How does this translate? It’s simple. Always learn and hone your skills. Assess and let other help you get to where you want to go.
- Get it Done- Time Management – Athletes often have to manage their time because their schedule forces them to organize and prioritize their time. Time management is not new for anyone in business. Still, we could all take a cue from athletes by looking at out day as chunks of times and focus on specific activities throughout the day, without letting others intrude.
- It’s not Win or Lose it’s Win or Learn – All elite and many non-elite athletes watch game film. Win or Lose, they take the time to look and analyze the game, their performance, what and where improvements can be made. Why? So they can be better next time. One of the lessons? Pointing the finger at others is a worthless exercise. Instead, you should turn inward and dissect your own performance. The same should be valid for entrepreneurs. Losing is temporary. Every day we have the chance to learn more and get better for it. Use losses as a catalyst to get better, as a way to learn.
- Shake it Off – You don’t fail by falling, but by staying on the ground. It’s about getting yourself back up and remaining mentally tough, so you can have long-term success. You can’t dwell on the past “knockdowns” but must look towards your goal.
- Don’t Compare Yourself – Comparison breeds insecurity. Elite athletes hone their edge, and they use their talents and skills to their advantage, but they don’t get sucked into the comparison trap. Why? Because constant comparison ruins your mental game, therefore you lose focus and your performance suffers. It is no different for entrepreneurs. You are your own person, comparing yourself to someone else is a fruitless endeavor. Success is achieved independently of others. You should strive to be the best you, you can be.
- Work Together – The ability to get others to work together toward a common goal is an essential skill in not only for the athlete, but for any business leader. Often you are woking with other prominent personalities, but often looking at things from a different perspective and or laying pride aside is what is needed to achieve the best for everyone. The ability to lead others and work within a team will always translate to the business world. And, if you’ll truly give to others you will always gain more.
I hope my research and insight is of help to you. Let’s take a lesson from elite athletes and strive to get better and learn more each day!