It is no secret that most successful athletes have good reasons to prepare to become some sort of entrepreneur after their playing days are over. Some of them are already planting the seeds to grow a great empire while they are still playing.
Now not all of us can be professional athletes but all of us have played some sort of sport for an extended period of time. I have been playing sports my entire life, with football and basketball being my choice of poison for most of it. Whether it is high school football on Friday nights or intramural softball on Tuesday afternoons I have loved playing every minute of it. During that time I gained knowledge and habits that would benefit me for the rest of my life. Below I will show you why former athletes, professional or Busch league, make great entrepreneurs.
1. We have that drive to be the best.
From your first game to your last you never want to lose and that competitive fire that is in your soul carries on to everything you do. When you start a business you don’t set your goals to be a mediocre company. You set out to be the University of Alabama football team, dominating the completion every year. Not everyone can be Bama it turns out you can be like Mizzou Football and work hard to find success.
2. We strive to make the people around us better.
Very early on your coach instills into your team that you are only as strong as your weakest link. If someone was struggling with a certain pitch or the playbook, you would stay after practice to make sure they understood. Now as you are starting your company or a seasoned veteran, you make sure that your employees or collogues have anything they need to grow.
3. We are used to insane schedules and terrible sleep habits.
During high school it was a pretty usual thing to be up late studying for a test and still have 6 am weights before school. Now replace the test with a proposal and weights with a flight or meeting and we are good to go.
4. We want to improve every day.
All those days of after school weights in the offseason have showed us that it takes time to improve your craft. You may not see huge improvements every day but when you look back a month later you will be pleasantly surprised. As Muhammad Ali put it ever so powerfully, “I hated every minute of training, but I said, ‘Don’t quit. Suffer now and live the rest of your life as a champion.’”
5. We have learned to deal and spot the fakes.
Every year someone would come in with all the new expensive gear or talk a huge game. But as soon as the whistle blew the real talent, or lack of, shown through. When you are building a company people will come to you with a fancy website or business card but as soon as you ask them some questions they fall apart. People will promise you the world but you can see through them in an instant.
6. We can put our trust in others.
Trust is the most important thing, in my opinion, that sports had taught me. Every game you had to look across that court or field and know that those 4 or 10 other people will have your back through thick and thin. Now you have to trust that your developer or CEO will do everything they can to help you
7. Finally we know how to recover from failure or setbacks.
After every loss we knew that there was another game in one week. We learned not to dwell on defeats and to instead use that passion to make ourselves better.
For everyone that feels like they are in a slump I will leave you with these powerful words from the eternal Jim Valvano “Don’t give up. Don’t ever give up.” Even if you are not in a slump, take those words to heart and use your gifts to do great things.
Ryan McCready is a former editor in chief turned entrepreneur. He founded Gro. Media this year to help startups, entrepreneurs and small business gain the marketing knowledge they need to reach their goals. Ryan enjoys exercising, reading and being outdoors.
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