We have heard “them” say hundreds of times that participating in youth and college athletics prepares us for careers in business. Growing up, intuitively I understood that the lessons of teamwork, leadership, and community I learned from sports would translate into my professional life, and it continues to become more apparent. Through our work with clients ranging from company executives to young adults, we frequently see the traits of athletes exhibited in high performers.
Not an athlete? That’s okay! You can still learn the lessons from sports. Increase your numbers with the following statistics.
STAT 1 – It’s Bigger Than Me
Great athletes, especially the ones that participated in team sports as opposed to individual ones, understand that in order to have a big win and great success the TEAM must be the primary focus—more than each individual. That’s not to say each individual is not important, but a team can do so much more when each person is moving towards a common goal versus each individual moving toward his or her own goal. When the team goals and the individual ones intersect—that’s where the magic happens.
STAT 2 – It Takes Practice
There are so many people who give up when they are not good at something right away. Alternatively, athletes recognize that being good at anything takes practice—athletes excel at this because they have seen it work in their own careers. At one point, Peyton Manning picked up a football for the very first time. Do you think he was a Hall-of-Famer immediately after that first throw? Close, but probably not. For athletes & high performers, persistence is key, which means lots of practice.
STAT 3 – Championships are Made in the Off-Season
Sure, occasionally we come across the naturally talented performer. She picked up a soft ball for the first time and immediately threw a strike. However, for most of us common folk, we have to work hard in the off-season to have a stellar performance on game day. Good athletes know they must hit the gym before anyone else, and be the last one to leave in order to get in a few extra free throws. The same goes for business. When developing a career, the high performers are wiling to put in the extra time—first in and last out—in order to achieve their goals and have career success.
STAT 4 – Play to Your Strengths
Participating on teams allows us to see that by working together, we can overcome each other’s weaknesses by fostering our own strengths. No doubt, Tom Brady is a talented quarterback. However, do you think the Patriots would have had the success they have if Brady had been also doing the receiving, defending and rushing? Probably not. Brady exhibits the vision, precision, leadership, and right arm of the Patriots. Lucky for those of us in New England, his teammates, like Julian Edelman and Stevan Ridley, make up for Brady’s shortcomings. That’s what makes a phenomenal offensive lineup. Similarly, project teams in business are typically made of a collection of people who pick up where the others leave off. That’s what makes a great end product—each person contributing his or her own strengths to the success of the project.
STAT 5 – Be Willing to Take a Risk
On sports teams, there are some players that go through the motions. They play a safe game, and yes, they may be reliable, but there’s no growth. They stay put. However, the high performing athletes assume a fearless attitude. They recognize that the potential for failure may be higher, but that does not stop them from taking a risk. From going for an interception or shooting a three-pointer. From throwing the Hail Mary to anticipating a reverse. The high performers take calculated risks, and more often than not reap the rewards of a victory.
About Brendan P. Keegan
Brendan P. Keegan is Founder & Managing Partner of velocityHUB, a leading management consulting firm. He is a 5-time industry leading President & CEO of large, private-equity-backed companies and served as the Fortune 100’s youngest Chief Sales Officer for EDS, a $22-billion technology industry leader. Brendan has raised nearly $1.0 billion in capital and returned over $2.2 billion to investors through successful exit strategies. He has trained over 100,000 leaders, led nearly 50,000 employees, driven sales of over $100 billion and worked globally in over 150 countries. Brendan was named a Distinguished Fellow by Dartmouth College, a Fast50 Executive by FastCompany, a successful entrepreneur by Enterprise Bank, Best-of-the-Best CEOs by Incentive, 100 Fastest Growing Companies by PriceWaterhouseCoopers, Business of the Year by NH Business Journal, Top 10 Coach of the Year by USA Football, and Volunteer of the Year by & Youth Coach of the Year locally for his commitment to community service. Brendan is a sought-after speaker by companies across the globe on leadership, sales and performance. He has authored over 200 articles and been published in global publications including the Wall Street Journal, Forbes, Business Week, Fast Company and InformationWeek.
Brendan serves on corporate boards to include Revolution Armor, Merchants Auto Group, ExpressIt Delivery, Olaeris, velocityHUB and nashuaHUB. Brendan and his wife Dana founded the Keegan Courage & Faith Foundation with the goal of giving back $1.0 million for youth education, athletics and at-risk youth across Southern New Hampshire.
velocityHUB delivers results-oriented training programs, high-value consulting and targeted executive coaching to many of the world’s leading companies, small and medium businesses, and non-profits. Our vision is to build one million leaders to drive performance, sales and revenue growth.
Contact: Amanda E Rogers | 603.402.1734 | firstname.lastname@example.org