What team sports taught me about running a company

What team sports taught me about running a company
Winning teams can provide tips on winning at business. Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images

There are as many reasons young people get involved in team sports as there are sports to get involved in. Some are prodded by their parents. Others join to be part of a group. There are those who view sports as a way to demonstrate physical or skill superiority and others who are simply competitive by nature.

Sports are compelling to many because they speak to conflicts and struggles that we deal with in the “real world”. For some, team sports is a fleeting phase in life. For others, it becomes a mainstay and a part of who they are.

For me, the fundamentals involved in team sports provided a baseline of core beliefs that have proved to be highly valuable in running a company.

Trust in others

In team sports, players have to not only trust in their coaches and managers but to trust their teammates as well. If a team relies too much on one player, it minimizes the impact of the team. Players should be able to rely on each other and trust they will pick up their assignments. If not, a player may try to cover for a teammate, perhaps putting themselves out of position to handle their own assignment. In business, this can translate into micromanaging instead of focusing on your own work. Sure, people need to be managed and interventions may need to occasionally be made, but when there is trust and everyone understands the big picture and their role in it, it creates an energy and synchronicity that is tough to beat.

Effort is contagious

Energy, effort, enthusiasm and drive are contagious. When leaders on a team demonstrate these qualities, others have an innate desire to follow. Unfortunately, the opposite is also true. It is worth noting that effort often takes, well, effort. But considering every day we are either improving or regressing, the effort is well worth it. It is worth it in not only the productivity and superior performance it provides, but in the energetic environment that results.

Plan to win

Planning to win can help you believe you can win. This is a very powerful principle in both team sports and business. Sure, you need to have backup plans and insurance policies for when things go awry but if you don't believe you can win or have a chance, opportunities are limited. Big upsets happen and they generally start with a well-thought-out plan that eventually manifests itself in belief. Legendary NFL coach Chuck Knox is credited with saying “Always have a plan and believe in it. Nothing happens by accident.” It is just one of many motivational quotes on the subject.

There's always room for improvement

In sports, as in business, everyone can improve. When a team comes off of a big win and they begin to believe they can just coast, they are primed to be upset. We've all witnessed teams who have experienced great success only to be followed by a disappointing loss or season. We've seen that in corporations as well. But we've also seen great franchises built through continuous improvement. There's always room for improvement and we must seek out those areas that can serve us best.

Nothing in life comes easily

Psychology Today has its own list of reasons sports can benefit teenagers, one of which is that it teaches us nothing is easy. Winning takes grit, commitment, overcoming barriers, and consistent effort. These are all traits so extremely valuable in running a company.

Team sports offer unlimited life lessons and insights on how to run a business or simply interact with others in our day-to-day life. They build trust and demonstrate the value of continuous improvement. Through team sports, we can learn the benefits of well-laid plans and how effort is contagious. While nothing in life may come easy, there is always room for improvement, and that improvement is worth chasing. There is, after all, a good reason many team sports use the term "goal".

Anthony Gilbert is the owner of The RealFX Group. Anthony specializes in real estate lead generation and marketing.


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