I spent my youth playing sports. From the moment I could walk, I also had a tennis racket in my hand. My first athletic motivation was simply to try and keep up with my older sister as best I could. At age six, I competed in my first tennis tournament, made it to the Junior Davis Cup at age 12, and brought home a doubles state championship in my senior year of high school. During my formative years, I caught the proverbial sports bug over and over again and began to gravitate towards more team-oriented sports, adding basketball, volleyball, softball, and track to my athletic resume. I loved the pace of team sports and the camaraderie they provided. Each team I played on was a united front, sharing the same mission and vision. Volleyball became a passion, and I was thrilled to compete at the collegiate level at Millsaps College where I was named Conference Player of the Year in my senior year. Looking back, it was a youth well spent where I, often unknowingly, was preparing to be the best professional teammate and leader I could be.
After I graduated college, I began my own tennis coaching business. At the end of my time in that business, I had one manager and 15 employees and had opened a 2nd location for our classes. Diving into my own business right out of my college years was quite a culture shock, but I quickly learned that I already had most of the skills I needed to find my way, and I had learned them through my many years of playing competitive tennis and volleyball. The principles I learned playing and coaching sports parallel quite well with being a business leader. Most business decisions I have had to make in my seven years of business leadership, I can easily relate to principles I learned during my time playing and coaching sports. Today, I apply those same skills and knowledge in my role as Focus Specialist for Vista Consulting.
Let’s dive in and talk about the principles you might have also learned at a young age that you can and should be tapping into as a business leader today.
Things I learned from playing sports from a young age:
- I learned that when I was tired, I shouldn’t quit.
- I learned that practice is most important when you don’t feel like doing it.
- I learned to take care of my body and how to correctly fuel it for success.
- I learned to work with others and to be a good teammate, gracious in defeat and humble in success.
- I learned to deal with disappointment and to show up each day ready to work and be better than the day before.
- I learned to make and accomplish goals.
- I learned to respect not only myself but others, including referees, competitors, and coaches.
- I learned that it takes hours and years of hard work and practice to create a champion and that success does not happen overnight.
- I learned to be proud of small achievements and to work towards long-term goals.
- I learned to be creative instead of living behind a screen.
- I learned to communicate my feelings of hurt and disappointment.
- I learned the importance of time management and balancing what is important to me.
The opportunity to play sports provided me with the ability to develop attributes that have served me well throughout my life and have given me the opportunity to bless others and use them in many other areas of my life, including business leadership.
Copying three key principles from sports
All of the principles listed above can be translated into principles to live by each day in the business world. There are three principles that I want to highlight that I believe if business leaders adopt, they will truly be more successful than their competitors. In my mind, a successful team and business have to have a good coach, regular practices, and a playbook they follow.
Become the MVP
As a business leader, if you prioritize coaching, practicing, and strategizing, I am certain your team will benefit tremendously. Looking at each person in your business as your teammate on the playing field will likely change your perspective and that shift will trickle down to the team as a whole. Start by taking a step back and evaluating how you are treating your teammates at this moment. Are you winning when they are winning, or are you trying to beat them? Are you treating them with respect? Are you holding them accountable to regular practice and following the playbook? If not, then focus on transitioning to a team mentality. That shift can be transformational to an organization and can take your team from losing to winning. They will begin to celebrate each other’s wins and allow your business to reach heights you didn’t think were possible! So, get your head in the game!