Every athlete has come across other players with more natural talent. And most athletes have personally experienced how hard work allowed them to catch up and even surpass a more naturally gifted athlete who didn’t put forth the same effort. Chalk up that lesson as something you should live by for the rest of your days.
“Sometimes a player’s greatest challenge is coming to grips with his role on the team.” – Scottie PippenEvery enterprise has leaders and role players. Both are vital to the ultimate success of the organization. But some are unwilling to put forward their best efforts if they’re not the one taking the “game-winning shot.” Athletes learn to play hard even when the play doesn’t call for them to be the star. Everyone needs to execute his or her own assignment so the play works and the team (or business) wins.
“It is what we learn after we think we know it all, that counts.” – John Wooden
Athletes come from a culture of teaching and learning and of constant constructive criticism from their coaches, team captains and teammates to help them learn more and play better. That experience sets athletes up to be much more receptive to feedback from managers and executives in the business and professional world, enabling them to continually improve and advance their careers.
“It’s what you get from games you lose that is extremely important.” —Pat Riley
Nobody likes to lose, but nobody goes through life undefeated. Losses in sports teach athletes not only how to deal with the pain of a loss, but also how to use the experience to prevent losing, in the same way, moving forward.
A desire to win and a disdain for losing is what fuels the truly great athletes to dig deep during games and punish themselves in the off-season to be more successful the following season. That same competitive drive and desire to win helps athletes in the professional world find ways to succeed at whatever task their job requires.
“It is better to look ahead and prepare than to look back and regret.” —Jackie Joyner-Kersee
Hard work today does not always lead to a reward tomorrow. In fact, many times, you must work hard for weeks and months, or even years, without seeing the benefits. Athletes learn this sooner than most, because they put in hours of hard work before the season starts, knowing that their preparation in the off-season will not pay dividends until much later.
“Set your goals high, and don’t stop ’till you get there.” – Bo Jackson
Sports are the ultimate tool for teaching someone how to set a goal, work tirelessly until it’s achieved, and then set a new, more challenging goal. That’s a nice trait to have as you work to improve yourself year to year both personally and professionally.
“Amateurs do things ’till they get it right. Pros do it ’till they can’t get it wrong.” —Steven Jackson
Not much more to say here. Athletes are perfectionists. And so are successful people.
“A team will always appreciate a great individual if he’s willing to sacrifice for the group.” —Kareem Abdul Jabbar
You spend most of your life as part of a group—your family, your business, your community. Athletes respect choices made for the good of the team and learn to apply that attitude in other areas of their lives beyond the playing field.
“If you are afraid of failure, you don’t deserve to be successful!” —Charles Barkley
Athletes must be focused in their efforts if they want to become great at their sport. You can’t become great at tennis if you spend too much of your time practicing billiards, basketball, golf, and soccer. The same holds true in life. If there’s something you want to be really great at, you need to focus your efforts on it and limit your distractions.
“If you don’t have confidence, you’ll always find a way not to win.” – Carl Lewis
Confidence can’t guarantee success, but lack of confidence nearly always guarantees failure. Most athletes experience this at some point in their careers as part of a team with great talent but without great confidence, one that finds ways to lose and then the following year gains confidence and finds ways to win.
“A person always doing his or her best becomes a natural leader, just by example.” – Joe Dimaggio
You’re not always going to win every game, but you always have to try. Athletes learn that if you give great effort but lose, you can still walk away with pride and dignity and the respect of your teammates. If you quit before giving it your all, you’ll achieve nothing and lose the respect of those around you.
“Good players create opportunities. The great players and the great people seize them.” —Mia Hamm
Athletes dream of the opportunity to take and make the game-winning shot. Significant opportunities come around in the real world, too, and athletes will be more ready to seize them because they’ve pursued them throughout their careers.
“The superior man blames himself. The inferior man blames others.” —Don Shula
Athletes rarely say they were “beaten” by their competition, as they believe they are always in control of the game. If you win, it’s because you played your best. If you lose, it’s because you didn’t play your best and the other team took advantage of your off day. Athletes always look to themselves to achieve their successes and fix their failures—not to those around them.