It’s no mystery that many famous athletes have been able to continue or even expand their fortunes beyond the field or court. Lebron James, Shaquille O’Neill, and Serena Williams are just some of the more popular names that are just as much businesspeople as they are sports superstars. Even before retirement, these athletes were able to make the right connections and decisions and had the right understanding of business to take their wealth to the next level. While these more famous athletes obviously have resources at their disposal that the average athlete may not have, study after study has shown that the athlete “mentality” is the most important component of a business mindset. These are just some of the qualities of an athlete that perfectly align with a future entrepreneur.
Whether it’s running the ball or shooting a basket, it takes proper strategy to navigate around an opponent’s team and score a point. Your strategy as an athlete will constantly change depending on who your opponent is, at what point in the game you are, and space on the field in which you stand. Business strategy takes each of these factors into account as well. Understanding someone who can help you win, or whose goal it is to cause you to lose, is crucial no matter the setting. As well, understanding the state of your business, its age, its success, and its strengths and weaknesses will help you properly assess the best next steps at any given time.
Almost every single sport is played in teams, and there is not a single team in the history of sports that has been largely successful based on one player alone. Even the greatest athletes of all time attribute a part of their success to their fellow players. Teammates not only challenge you to improve on your own but can help you mentally and physically against opposition that you may have trouble taking on alone. There is simply no person capable of winning every battle, whether on or off the court. Having people by your side with a goal common to your own is essential to yours and their success. Being a good team player is far more than a safety net, however, and requires just as much responsibility as the support it gives you. In business, you will undoubtedly be in situations where working with a team is necessary and putting any differences aside to aid them in their success, and to utilize them as a proper resource, is as rewarding as it is fulfilling.
Despite the common misconception that athletes live “cool” and lavish lifestyles, they in fact give up an incredible abundance of their free time to the sport they play. Besides organized practices and drills, the difference between good and great athletes is a dedication to the sport outside of practice. Whether watching film, working out, or doing drills on your own, sacrificing other fun activities is what truly allows you to give a sport your all. This is not to say that rest and a social life is discouraged, but any high-level professional will undoubtedly tell you that their passion had to take precedence for them to properly perfect it. Business professionals would likely give you similar advice and say that sacrifice was a tough but necessary part of their journey to success.
Likely the most obvious quality, it is impossible to master a sport or business without determination. Determination implies desire, and a lack of desire toward anything will always keep you from giving it your best effort. There is not a single professional athlete or businessperson that will tell you they lacked determination. Since determination requires such a strong desire, it is also important to have passion. To be truly great at something, you must love doing it to some level. A lack of passion will eventually lead to your efforts falling through, or a lack of fulfillment that makes your progress worthless. While it is incredibly tough to do so, getting the best idea of what your passion is will help you become determined. The average person is more than likely going to try multiple sports, or work in multiple different business settings before they find their passion and determination. Whether you are lucky enough that the journey is shorter for you, or it unfortunately drags on for a while, staying hopeful and maintaining a good attitude will eventually lead you to what you love, and that is when you can put your determination toward your success.
Athletes really are just businesspeople in the making, and the strategy, cooperation, discipline, and determination learned in a sport are far more applicable to the business world than people give them credit for. For those that do not play sports, you are in no way excluded from this comparison. No matter what you love doing, if you exercise any of these qualities in whatever you do, then you have the qualities of an athlete, which means you have the right qualities for business. So, for those that may feel trapped in a limbo of job searching or simply trying to find a calling in life, never forget that the simplest activities you did growing up made you a more capable professional than you ever could have thought.