Five Traits That Transcend Athletics to Success In Business

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Every athlete devotes countless hours of work in order to hone their skills, and become better at their craft. At the highest levels, those athletes have committed years of discipline and study of their game to be the best in their sport at what they do.

Let’s look at it from a hypothetical perspective: when a person spends the past 22 years of their life swinging a baseball bat, surely the hours they put in working on their hitting form won’t help them land a job. So, what does? How do skills acquired from a sport help culminate attributes shared by the top business minds and CEO’s?

Written below are five powerful characteristics athletes have that are also found in the top individuals in the business world.

They accept their mistakes as part of the game. Repetition is the key to mastering any craft. This means that failing over-and-over again is the journey one goes through to learn and get better at something. Professional basketball players may take anywhere from 300 to 3000 shots a day; during competition, that number may be minimized to just three.  The ability to find success after constant failure is one of the most prevalent attributes that breeds success in all athletes.  Athletics foster an atmosphere where an individual will do anything to win. An athlete’s fear of failure rarely consumes them, but rather is embraced because of the relentless pursuit of excellence they strive for in their training.

In regard to athletes in the business world, any corporate leader, executive, or individual at the peak of their career will preach that experiencing failure are better opportunities for growth than the moments of winning. Athletics provide a foundation of learning what failure is, which when applied to any work environment is a skillset has that give them a competitive edge over their peers.

They put team members in positions to succeed. In a team sport, if every member is not in-sync at key moments, failure is eminent. At the highest levels, the difference between players in terms of skill set on a player-by-player level is so small that there really is no difference. Points are scored at the highest-level due to either an incredible individual effort or a breakdown in the overall team scheme. Sports cause the athlete to develop a sense of trust and understanding in themselves and their teammates that in order to become successful, the same dedication and effort put in personal growth needs to be put in the overall group.

In business, this idea is imperative to a leader’s ability to move the direction of the organization forward. A quarterback understanding the strengths and weaknesses of his teammates in order to survey a defense and find the open man is the same intangible skill a leader needs to pick the right employees. By putting those employees in the right position, he can then surround those employees with the right teammates to allow them to be the most effective.

They are humble and accountable.  Having a feeling of self-accomplishment after doing something right is normal. The indicator of one’s character is how they handle that success. Will that person find content with their sole success and linger on or will they get back and make another great play?

Athletics provide a unique environment for competitors in the sense that at the highest level, success is continuous. One becomes acquainted with success due to a conscientious decision, every day in every facet of their lives to put themselves in a position to win. Constantly seeking out success ushers in the revered characteristics of humility and accountability for an athlete. When an athlete does something right, they brush it aside and go back for more. They don’t linger on their accomplishments because it is not about them, the focus on is on the more important bigger picture, the team.  The humility and accountability developed on the field mature into a mindset that is sought after entering the into the working world.

In the real world, there is no coach there with a whistle to congratulate a business professional after a sale or creating revenue for the company. No one in a hiring position has the desire to deal with a team member that becomes complacent after contributing one positive thing to the group. Every company is instead, looking for the candidate that has the internal drive to sustain success.

They stay calm under pressure. Not many people can relate to being put in a situation where the happiness of 30-40 of their closest friends is dependent upon their ability to interpret a situation and act in a quarter to half a second. Athletes that want the ball at the end of a game are so confident in their ability that they are willing to put it all on the line.

A manager or person of hiring authority wants an individual that is willing to work hard on a daily basis – but it’s more than just that. The differentiator between an athlete and the rest of the possible hiring pool is that most have not been in situations when they are forced to determine the outcome for a group of people. Athletes have the knack for seeking out situations where they can test their training and preparation when everything they have is on the line.

Business leaders and executives have mastered this skill as well. Leaders of a business understand that the life and death of their company and the well-being of themselves and their employees and their families lies in their hand. Athletics provide the perfect building block for individuals to grow their confidence and develop how to handle themselves when their backs are against the wall.

They don’t dwell on the past. The world can be viewed in two distinct ways. One can view life with a positive lens, finding inspiration from the future and their future opportunities. In contrast, someone can also by dwell on the past and lament in sorrow after a negative outcome. Obstacles in a player’s career may come in the form of a season ending injury or a penalty in a crucial time of a game. There will always be an obstacle on the path to success. The only way to make it past that obstacle is to spend time learning from prior mistakes to help one evolve and grow in the future. The way an athlete bounces back from a bad play often mimics the way they handle a negative outcome in their life.

In a field like sales, rejection is the norm. A salesperson will hear “no” a lot more than they will hear “yes”. It can be debilitating to hear “no” 100 times a day, but that energizes the elite in the profession to go back for more. They understand that the next encounter they have may be the time they hear a “yes” that changes their life. A positive mindset that is fueled by an unrelenting desire to succeed is a contagious attribute athletics provides for its participants.

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