It might surprise some that the skillsets and characteristics common among successful athletes can also be found among successful entrepreneurs.
However, the two groups are more similar than you might think – certain traits common among both can lead to success both on and off the field. Here are some reasons why qualities common among successful athletes can translate into the business world.
When one thinks of grit, toughness and endurance usually come to mind. It makes sense, then, that grit is necessary to be successful as an athlete. Athletes need to be tough, physically and mentally; they need to be able to endure pain and pressure while maintaining a high level of performance.
Even more importantly, athletes learn from their shortcomings so they can overcome past failures and win the next time. All athletes lose, but the successful ones are the ones who have the perseverance to keep trying until they find success.
The same can be said about entrepreneurs, who need the endurance and toughness to withstand long hours and endless nights trying to get a business going. If an entrepreneur has worked hard enough to get a business off the ground, they’re only going to have to work harder to make their operation sustainable.
Like athletes, entrepreneurs need to be able to operate at a high level, consistently and for long periods of time. Further, like successful athletes, successful entrepreneurs need to be able to learn from their mistakes and move on.
Brendan Candon, the founder of SidelineSwap, is a huge fan of grit; he explained, “We believe it’s incredibly important to encourage participation in sports at the youth level. Sports help to foster resilience and grit at a young age, which helps prepare you for success in the real world.” And he puts his money where his mouth is – through his company’s #GearForAYear scholarship, he awards athletes from grade school through college with $500 worth of sports gear.
In this way, Candon is able to further his mission of providing more access to athletics for deserving kids, and foster grit and resilience – a worthy cause for any company looking to make their impact on the next generation of athletes-turned-entrepreneurs.
Many entrepreneurs find that it’s necessary to work in teams for certain undertakings. Oftentimes, financial or physical support is needed to start a business; having one or more partners can ease those concerns. To maximize the potential of all team members, entrepreneurs need to bring out every participant’s strengths.
This is where a common characteristic among athletes can come into play. Take basketball, for instance: each position has a designated function that doesn’t change over the course of a game, just like how team members in a startup have their specific job tasks. Based on each athlete’s strengths and weaknesses, a coach places them in their positions to perfect the system for a collective effort to win the game. Sound familiar?
Just as athletes in team sports need to be team players, entrepreneurs in partnerships need to be able to work with their peers and lead teams effectively for the greater good of the company.
For entrepreneurs, having talent and skill is meaningless if one doesn’t have a strong work ethic to pull off those 60+ hour weeks. Similarly, the best athletes in the world aren’t the best because of their skill. Sure, skill is a very important factor, but it’s worthless if the athlete doesn’t know how to work hard.
The best athletes, such as Serena Williams, LeBron James, and Joe Montana, are the best because they perfected their skill by perfecting their work ethic. A successful athlete can be a successful entrepreneur because that person knows that in order to be successful, they’re going to have to work for it every time.
Stubbornness is often considered a negative quality, since it implies that someone is unwilling to change for the better. However, in the athletic and entrepreneurial worlds, stubbornness – here, called focus – is necessary for success.
Clear focus on the game, and nothing but the game, is critical to winning among athletes. If they let themselves get distracted by other issues, they run the risk of losing sight of what’s important. All athletes do is eat, breathe, and live in their one goal to make sure that they achieve it.
This sense of focus is hugely helpful for any entrepreneur, since they need to be completely focused on setting up their business in order to be successful. With how competitive today’s market is, entrepreneurs need to be willing to only think about their business and focus everything on it, even when it doesn’t pay off right away.
Despite the surface-level differences, athletes and entrepreneurs have more in common than meets the eye. From knowing the value of hard work to being able to perform well in teams, adding former athletes to your entrepreneur circle can be all you need to achieve business success.
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