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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Let's make a deal. Photo by Getty Images. Composite image by Brandon Strange.

The NFL trade deadline is less than a week away, and the Houston Texans have a significant decision to make regarding their franchise star, J.J. Watt. The Texans are 1-6 through the first seven games of the season, and the next few years of the franchise seem a bit bleak.

No player or staff member has encapsulated Houston's frustration quite like Watt. Excluding the Texans' victory over the Jaguars, the future Hall of Famer has looked miserable in every post-game press conference. Each week, it's the constant look of despair. And in hindsight, closing the chapter on Watt's career in Houston seems to be best for both parties.

At 31-years-old, the All-Pro defensive tackle should be spending the twilight of his career competing for Super Bowls — not playing for a team who is clearly about to hit the reset button at the conclusion of this season.

By departing from Watt, it would allow the Texans to get a jumpstart on their rebuilding project — one that has the potential to bring back quality draft picks, a young prospect, and clear close to $20 million in cap space.

If they decide not to move on from Watt, the Texans risk putting themselves in a situation where they may miss out on obtaining higher draft picks and strapped for cash heading into the 2021 free agency market. And with one year left on his contract following 2020, the Texans also risk losing leverage in a potential deal if forced into trading Watt come next season.

At this stage of his career, the Texans may not receive a haul for Watt's services but could maximize his trade value by dealing him to a championship-contending team. A move that would give Watt the best chances of adding a championship title to his luxurious resume in return.

With the future of the franchise in mind, here are three potential trade ideas that would be best if the Texans are truly considering moving on from Watt.

Watt returns home to Wisconsin and joins the Packers

Texans receive: 2021 first-round pick and LB Kamal Martin

Packer receive: J.J. Watt

The Green Bay Packers are one of a handful of teams who has a realistic chance to stamp their ticket to Super Bowl LV. Following a win over the Texans on Sunday, the Packers stand first in the NFC North with a 5-1 record and possess one of the NFL's best offensive teams.

Green Bay's offense can compete in a shootout with just about any team in the league, but their defense may be the reason why they fall short of representing the NFC in Tampa Bay come February. They have only accumulated a total of 10 quarterback hits and are currently 30th in the league in pass rush through the first six games. The Packers' lack of ability to get to the opposing team's quarterback could be an immense problem during a playoff game that could feature Tom Brady, Drew Brees, and Russell Wilson.

So what do the Packers have to lose by acquiring their Wisconsin native?

The addition of Watt would allow the Packers to add one of the best pass rushers of all-time. Although Watt is nowhere near the player that finished second behind Aaron Rogers for league MVP honors in 2015, he has illustrated that he is still a disruptive defensive lineman five years later.

Through the first seven games, Watt has accounted for 11 pressures, six quarterback hits and three sacks — which would make him Green Bay's second most reliable pass rusher trailing only Za'Darius Smith.

For the Texans, receiving a first-round pick for Watt is self-explanatory and would be the most suitable return for the aging star. However, for a team that is building for the future, the Texans should consider obtaining a young and raw prospect to evaluate.

Kamal Martin, a fifth-round draft selection in 2020, made his NFL debut against the Texans on Sunday and left an exceptional first impression. He recorded six tackles and one tackle for loss in 29 snaps inside NRG Stadium, and could be a building block should the Texans begin to make modifications to their linebacking corps.

Seattle sends multiple draft picks for Watt

Texans receive: 2021 second-round pick and fourth-round pick

Seahawks receive: J.J. Watt

If the Packers do not take advantage of improving their pass rush with Watt — perhaps the Seattle Seahawks will. Both NFC teams mirror each other with a high-powered offense, but a feeble defense may hinder one another from advancing to the Super Bowl. In a deal for Watt to the Seahawks, the Texans would miss out on the chance to acquire a first-rounder, but obtaining multiple picks would be just as prominent.

Seattle's general manager John Schneider is no stranger to taking a significant risk, and appears willing to make any moves that will put his organization closer to their long-overdue second title with Russell Wilson. Perhaps, Watt would be that missing key.

The Seahawks are pretty solid at stopping the run but need a tremendous upgrade in their pass defense. Seattle has given up the second-most passing yards on the season (2,212), and the reason seems to be their inability to get to the quarterback. Seattle has only implemented pressure to the opposing team's quarterback on 20.1% of their dropbacks, while only recording a total of nine sacks.

The Seahawks pass defense may not become elite, but the disruption of Watt on their defensive line could be enough to limit the devastation they have experienced through the first seven weeks of the season.

Watt to the Big Easy for Brees' last dance

Texans receive: 2021 second-round pick and Marcus Davenport

Saints receive: J.J. Watt

Seven weeks into the season, the New Orleans Saints are not sitting near the top of the NFC nor their division when compared to recent years. A bevy of injuries have been attributed to their minor decline this season — mainly to their All-Pro receiver Michael Thomas.

However, the Saints have prevailed through the injury bug to march their way to a 4-2 record. If New Orleans can get healthy during the second half of the season, they will be in the running to represent the NFC in Tampa Bay for Super Bowl LV. But unlike the Packers and Seahawks, this could be the Saints last chance to recapture the Vince Lombardi Trophy in what is likely Drew Brees' last dance.

The addition of Watt to the Saints would give general manager Mickey Loomis a chance to create the most disruptive defensive line in the league. Defensive coordinator Dennis Allen would be able to shift the five-time Pro-Bowler to the interior — allowing the Saints to trot out a d-line of Watt, Cameron Jordan and Trey Hendrickson.

This trade would give Watt arguably the most help he has ever had on the defensive line — which would allow New Orleans to maximize what is left of his career.

This trade would have the Texans missing out on obtaining a first-rounder, but a sound-round pick would be just as valuable for Watt. However, Houston should consider adding a young prospect in a potential swap, and Marcus Davenport would be their best return.

Drafted in 2018, Davenport is a former first-round talent who can help transition the Texans into the post-Watt era. He has showed promise of a bright future through his first two seasons, but injuries have prevented the 24-year-old prodigy of San Antonio from establishing himself as one of the league's top young talents.

This season, elbow and toe injuries have limited Davenport to just a pair of games in 2020. Although there is an immense concern regarding Davenport's health, the Texans cannot pass on adding a player who has already registered 11.5 sacks and 31 quarterback hits through his first 28 career games.

Coty M. Davis is a reporter for ESPN 97.5 Houston/SportsMap covering the Houston Texans. He is also the co-host of Locked On Texans, a part of the Locked On Podcast Network. Follow Coty on Twitter @CotyDavis_24.

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