Living in Dallas, one of the few cities with teams in all four major leagues, there is no shortage of former athletes who remain in the area and transition from sports to business. After leading the Cowboys to six NFC Championship games and winning two Super Bowls, Roger Staubach built an empire in commercial real estate. Nolan Ryan became the CEO of the Texas Rangers after he retired from the team, along with owning a bank and being a partner in a beef company. Basketball star Mark Aguirre is now the president of basketball for the newly formed Champions Basketball League.
Business, like sports, is highly competitive, but there is more that business leaders can learn from elite athletes than meets the eye. In a recent article, business author Gwen Moran lays out the following seven lessons that business leaders can learn from elite athletes.
1. Thrive In Chaos. Athletes on the field live in a state of chaos. The complexity of the plays, the pressure situations, the crowd, the TV cameras all surround the athlete, who needs to hone the ability to focus on his or her job despite the distractions. Business leaders need to master this same focus to be effective.
2. Tap The Right Training. Athletes surround themselves with trainers, coaches and other people who can help them continue to improve, but business leaders are less likely to do the same. Leaders should not hesitate to search for coaches and training that can help them improve in the particular areas in which they need help.
3. Don’t Skip Practice. Athletes practice more than they perform. But most business leaders don’t have the same regimen. Leaders should pay more attention to building processes that prepare them to achieve goals including training, stretch assignments and talking about processes and how to continually improve.
4. Get It Done. Elite athletes learn early how to manage their time. Between practice, film sessions, workouts, travel to games and public appearances, their time is limited but the stakes are high. Learning to focus on specific targeted activities during the day helps to get the high-priority jobs done.
5. Win Or Learn. Rarely in sports are the options win or lose. More often, they are win or learn. By reviewing what happened, leaders can improve and put themselves in a situation to better compete in the future.
6. Suck It Up And Shake It Off. Elite athletes know they are going to get hit and knocked down. Figuring out how to get back on your feet and renew your resolve is the key to bouncing back and working toward long-term success.
7. Get Everyone To Play Together. Elite athletes learn that the team is not only those on the field; the coaches and owners are also key to success. Moran notes, “The ability to get people to work toward a common goal is a skill that will serve you well in business and life.”
Gwen Moran writes about business, money and assorted other topics for leading publications and web sites. She was named a Small Business Influencer Awards Top 100 Champion in 2015, 2014 and 2012 and is the co-author of The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Business Plans (Alpha, 2010), and several other books.