We envy famous athletes and executives. The adjectives to describe Michael Jordan can describe Michael Dell; powerful, competitive and world-class. For us, sports is a recreational activity to alleviate work stress. However, if you apply the lessons learned from playing sports, you'll learn the board room and the basketball court have lots in common. Take these four premises from sports with you to the office tomorrow.
Perfection is a mirage -- In sports you will never be perfect. You've had great games, but never perfect ones, but imperfection doesn't stop you from trying. In business we always try to reduce risk and have everything perfect before trying something new. It's better to be live than perfect. I doubt Wayne Gretzky had a statistically perfect game where he scored a goal on every shot he took. He still played. Microsoft releases Windows with defects they gradually fix. The cost of delaying the launch to fix minor issues outweighs the cost of going live. Don't cripple yourself by trying to be perfect.
Success in Failure -- Ray Allen, basketball's 3-point king, has made more 3-point shots than any basketball player (2,973). Pretty good right? He's also missed more 3-point shots than any basketball player (7,429) and only made 40 percent of the shots he took. What a failure! The takeaway here is that you can't score unless you shoot. So shoot as often as you can, expect misses and move on. If you're in sales this means putting yourself out there as much as possible in meaningful ways (here are some ways to do that). The more people that know about your product or service, the likelier you are to get a sale. Expect stress, rejection and disappointment. Another famous Allen, Woody, once said 80 percent of life is showing up. It is in business and sports too.
Respect The Process -- The best athletes are also six- sigma black-belts. They are obsessed with improving. Rafael Nadal predominantly won tennis tournaments on slow surfaces for years, but gradually improved his attacking skills and now wins on fast surfaces too. In business, don't stop adding skills to your repertoire. Add some business acumen to your skill set if you're an engineer. You'll be passionate about the change. The more you can do to help your customers or teammates improve the more indispensable you'll be. Be eager to learn and enhance all areas of the business instead of just your department. Go to work today with intention to be better than you were yesterday.
Accept what you cannot control -- Picture doing a presentation that you've prepared months for and the 80,000-people attendance hope and encourage your failure with signs and rude remarks. Football players deal with that, but are still able to win. In business you can't always control people's thoughts or decisions. So don't worry about it. Instead, focus on what you can control - delivering a great customer experience, treating your employees and teammates like family, taking a genuine interest to solve your customer's problems (even if it's not in your SLA) and delivering products and solutions to the best of your abilities. Athletes can't control the weather and you can't control the global economy. Accept the conditions as they are, adjust if appropriate and go back to work on what you can control. Champions find a way.
If you don't follow sports you can use the same lessons for basically any activity that requires repetition, performance and improvement. Don't take your work home with you.
Take it to the gym instead.
About the Author:
Sajeel Qureshi is the VP of Operations at Computan, a digital marketing and software company. Computan serves as the digital department for numerous businesses throughout the globe ranging from start-ups to multinationals.
He has a degree in Business Administration from St. Bonaventure University and MBA from Eastern Illinois University. Sajeel plays tennis well enough to convince the untrained eye that he knows what he is doing and poor enough that the trained eye submits him to a drug test.
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