It is no secret that most successful athletes become an entrepreneur after their playing days end. Some athletes plant the seeds to grow a great empire before they stop playing.
Not all of us can be professional athletes, but all of us have played some type of sport. I have been playing sports my entire life, specifically football and basketball. Whether it was high school football on Friday nights or intramural softball on Tuesday afternoons, I loved every minute of it. During that time, I gained knowledge and habits that have benefitted countless aspects of my life.
The following are my personal reasons as to why former athletes, professional or Busch league, make great entrepreneurs.
- We have a drive to be the best.
The feeling starts with your first game and it does not end until your last: you never want to lose. However, that competitive fire in your soul never leaves you. When you start a business, your goal is not mediocrity. You want to be the University of Alabama football team, who dominates the completion every year.
- We strive to make the people around us better.
In the beginning, every coach teaches the team that your team is only as strong as the weakest link. If someone was struggling with a pitch or the playbook, you stayed after practice to make sure they understood. As you begin your company, ensure that your employees or colleagues have everything they need to grow.
- We are used to insane schedules and terrible sleep habits.
In high school, it is common for athletes to find themselves up late studying for a test and then have weightlifting at six in the morning before school. Consider that conditioning for the real-world: simply replace the test with a proposal and weightlifting with a flight or meeting, and we are good to go.
- We want to improve every day.
As we learned with weightlifting and running on the track, it takes time improve your craft. You may not see huge improvements every day, but you are pleasantly surprised when you look back a month later. As Muhammad Ali put it, “I hated every minute of training, but I said don’t quit. Suffer now and live the rest of your life as a champion.”
- We have learned to deal and spot the fakes.
Every year someone would come in with new, expensive gear and talk a huge game. But, when then whistle blew, the real talent, or lack of, showed. When you are building a company people will come to you with a fancy website or business card. However, as you ask some questions, you’ll learn that they’re all talk.
- We can put our trust in others.
In my opinion, trust is the most important quality that I learned through playing sports. During each and every game, you would look across the court or field and know that the four or ten people out there have your back. Now, you have to trust that your developer or CEO will do everything they can to help you
- Finally, we know how to recover from failure or setbacks.
After every loss, we knew that there was another game. We learned not to dwell on defeats. We learned to use that passion to make ourselves better.
If you feel like you’re in a slump, remember the words of 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.
Founder of Gro. Media, Ryan McCready works to provide startups and small businesses with the tools they need to be successful.
Image credit: CC by roger alcantara