The correlations between business and sports are uncanny. The majority of people who play high school or college level sports don’t end up with a career in sports, so converting that passion post ‘retirement’ can be a challenge. I’m proud to say, I’ve done it, and with far more conviction than I ever could have hoped in my athletic life — and I played competitively throughout my four years at college at Bentley University. I even recently wrote of a lesson I learned from my college experience, where my college coach backed integrity over participation trophies. The sport’s influences on my career and life are bountiful.
Being obsessed with leadership, teamwork, competition, and winning, playing sports was the outlet to satisfy that hunger. But as an adult? How could I possibly fill this deep, intrinsic, yearning void?
Many athletes struggle with this when they hang up the spikes. Whether early in life or even for the elite who reached the pinnacle of pro sports.
So many of my practical business principles come from sports. Growing up in a family business, a sporting goods retailer no less (now manifested as YORK Athletics Mfg.), the middle son of five boys, sports lessons were an everyday occurrence. Getting a football scholarship helped me pay for my marketing degree, which directly spearheaded my business and entrepreneurial pursuits, so it all directly connects.
Entrepreneurs get the same feeling of invincibility, thrill, and nerves that athletes get for big games. But can you keep motivated when your company evolves, or you’re years into the grind of your career? How do you perform when the lights are at their brightest? Can you adapt? Can you evolve? Can you persevere? Can you step up when it matters most?
Below are my 10 of my favorite lines often used by the best coaches and leaders in the sporting arena. Do they have any relevance to your profession?
- One Play at a Time
- The Best Defense is a Good Offense
- Leave it All On the Field
- Always Respect Your Opponent
- Practice Makes Perfect
- There is No Off-Season
- It’s Not the Size of the Dog in the Fight; It’s the Size of the Fight in the Dog
- Never Settle
- Play Like A Champion Today
- Rise to the level of your competition
You can’t go back to the glory days on the field or court, so find your hooks, dig in, and channel your athletic roots in your career journey. It’s worked for me.
*Repost from an older version on Medium from February 2016.