Lessons Sport Can Teach Business

Lessons Sport Can Teach Business

Turning another year older tomorrow, being birthday 33. I thought I would reflect back on my life the three greatest challenges for me when transitioning from playing baseball in the USA to heading home and getting busy in the corporate world were:

Why is it that so many people say I love the team environment when I play sports, however so many find it challenging to express that same feeling in the business world? Here are my top three.

The lack of communication and access to a leader/coach/boss.

In the sporting world I had access to my coach daily. We would regularly discuss performance, strengths and weaknesses, and identify opportunities to grow and ensure that I was performing at my best. When I hit the corporate world, I had to lock a meeting in the diary, follow it up and deal with having it cancelled. My daily reviews/catch ups in sport became quarterly reviews in business.

The mentality around failure.

In the sporting world athletes understand that it is ok to fail, that failure makes you work harder and builds determination and character that ultimately makes you a better person. I believe that what sets athletes apart from those in the business world, is that athletes better understand failure and strive to grow from it. Failure in the business world tends to more readily translate to a loss in motivation and a readiness to quit.

An athlete is aware of their weaknesses in a team, but also aware of their strengths and they certainly don’t let success or failure define them. The close and constant communication with their coach, something that is less common in the corporate world, helps drive continual improvement. The corporate world could learn from this!

Inability to utilise others strength to support your weaknesses.

In my opinion there is a lot of ‘dog-eat-dog’ mentality in the corporate space. The desire to progress rapidly up the corporate ladder at the expense of the team, can be destructive to not only productivity, but to team moral. Many who adopt this attitude on their way up the ladder also pass the same team members on their way back down!

The vital lesson that I learnt throughout my career in sports and business, is that a successful team is made up of a mix of personalities and skills, all sharing the same goal and working together to find a way to achieve it. A successful team has a strong leader who understands the strengths of all team members and, armed with this knowledge, he/she leads from the front to get the job done.

Leadership skills are critical both on and off the field. They help create championship teams, create a healthy working environment and most importantly, assist greatly in personal growth.
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