The Transition from Sport to Business

Elite Sport to Business

As a former professional athlete, I have learnt that controlling your mindset is one of the most powerful weapons to have in your arsenal. You can have the skills and the ability to perform but your mindset is what determines your success. This, I believe, not only helps athletes win championships, but also translates to any kind of profession, especially that of entrepreneurship.

From hard work to resilience, teamwork and competitiveness, athletes have developed traits to take them to the top. The ones who put in the extra work when no one is watching, who do more than expected and that bounce back from defeat to fight another day are the ones that ‘make it’. In order to come out on top, athletes will find their path to success, and it is no different in business.

As a business owner, you can have all the resources and contacts in the world, but if you’re lacking in your ambition, you will eventually fall to your competitors.

The same setbacks that occur in sports are similar to the ones that occur in business. A sale falls through, your promotion doesn’t go to plan or your client cancels the contract – it isn’t about what happens to you, it’s all about how you react!

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4 Transferrable Skills from Sport to Business

Laser Focus:

Staying focused not only keeps your eye on the target but it prevents you from getting lost on the way. First you have to deal with the task at hand, as they say, “there’s no elevator to success, you’ve got to take the stairs”. Personally, my next training session was always the most important session, the first fight was always the first goal – if I didn’t get past the first opponent then there was no chance of getting to the final. The same goes for my first sale, or my first meeting with a client.

That doesn’t mean you’re not planning for the long term goal; it simply means you’ve anticipated each hurdle.

Now, are you going to stop after your triumph, or are you going to celebrate and use the momentum to expand upon your success? It’s also important to remember that it’s what you did last week that earned you the results of today.

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“Look at a stone cutter hammering away at his rock, perhaps a hundred times without as much as a crack showing in it. Yet at the hundred-and-first blow it will split in two, and I know it was not the last blow that did it, but all that had gone before.” 

Resilience: Controlling the controllable and learning from the situation.

Everyone will lose or make a mistake at some stage. It’s not about losing, it’s about whether or not you can bounce back after you fail. Failure is part and parcel of growing as an athlete and the same goes for business. As a start up or a new employee, failure is inevitable but those small defeats can’t consume you. They are minor hurdles when it comes to looking at the bigger picture. Head up, learn the lessons, knuckle down and crack on. “A positive mindset gives you control over your circumstances.”

Stepping back into safety, or pushing forward into growth:

 Are you scared of taking risks to save face, or will you put yourself out there? Comfort zones are great but nothing ever grows there.

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“You are only confined by the walls you build yourself.”

People with a growth mindset use setbacks as a learning tool, and that is why they aren’t scared of looking stupid or failing. They put themselves in front of challenges and admit when they don’t know all the answers but are happy to test themselves in order to learn.

From practicing a new skill and looking silly, competing in an event, or running your first board meeting, you have to be willing to take that first step out of your comfort zone and into growth.

Show Up Every Day, Even When You Don’t Feel Like It:

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To be successful as an athlete or a businessperson, you have to come to work, regardless of how tired you feel. This doesn’t mean you have to go 110% every single day, however showing up and getting the work done will make you stand out. Why? Because you never know what opportunity may arise that day, just for showing up! Perhaps you miss team advice that is imperative in your growth? Maybe you sit on the bench and discuss ideas with your coach? What could you learn that day?

You never want to miss out on an opportunity because you didn’t feel like showing up that day. 

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