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What Can Your Business Learn From Sport?

I have been watching the Olympic Games on the television and I have been thinking about what we can learn from sport that can help us in our businesses. You cannot fail to admire the people who win medals at the Olympics as well as those who compete but do not get a medal.

From these sports people, I have identified the things below that can be applied from sport to achieving success in business:

Dare to dream. Successful sports people all have a dream. They know what they want to achieve, whether this is to beat their personal best or win an Olympic gold medal. In business you equally need a vision of what you want to achieve in the long term.

Set goals. Successful sports people set short, medium and longer term goals. They may want to be the British champion this year, the World champion in 3 years time and the following year the Olympic champion. In business you need to also set short, medium and longer term goals, so you are clear where you are going.

Have a plan. Successful sports people plan out what they have to do and when so that they achieve their goals. This includes breaking big tasks down into smaller achievable actions, thinking about 'what if' scenarios and revising their plans as circumstances change. Successful businesses also plan in this way.

Manage your time. Time management is key to success in sport. This may involve keeping to training schedules, getting enough rest, preparing for competitions and planning in breaks. Good time management is also key to success in business. Being efficient, effective and productive, as well as getting your work life balance right are essential.

Focus on the end goal. Successful sports people keep focused on and committed to their end goal. In business it is also important to keep focused on the end goal. Are you prioritising your actions to achieve your end goal and are you staying focused and committed?

Manage your mind. Successful sports people believe in themselves, manage stress well, think positively and look after themselves. You can be the fastest runner in the world but you may not win an Olympic medal because you are thinking negatively and letting the stress take control. It is just as important to manage your mind in business.

Learn and gain experience. Successful sports people learn new skills, keep improving themselves and gaining experience. In business you have to have the right skills and experience to run your business and be prepared to learn and adapt. The business world like the sporting world keeps changing and moving on.

Deliver on the day. In sport you have to deliver in competition. This will include maximising your performance, through excellent preparation and planning, making sure you feel right and doing your best. In business you also need to deliver. Your business has to be set up to deliver the best service to everyone you deal with, whether this be customers, enquirers, suppliers or investors.

Teamwork and leadership. When you look at a successful sports team they have a good leader and excellent teamwork. This equally applies to successful businesses.

Manage the risk. To be successful sports people need to consider and manage the risk. This may include not having a kick about with their children, as this may result in injury. Equally in business you need to consider the different risks and manage them.

Have a support network. Successful sports people have a support network, maybe a coach, a manager, a sports psychologist, a nutritionist, family, friends and colleagues. To succeed in business you also need a support network, maybe a business mentor, your bank manager, your accountant, your business partner, other business contacts, your family, friends and colleagues.

As well as learning from sport, you may also want to look at other successful business people and try and identify what makes them successful. You can then apply your learnings to your business.

Author: Liz Makin
Published: August 2008

Through Makin It Happen - Coaching, Mentoring & Stress Management, Liz Makin provides personalised business coaching, business mentoring and stress management services to business owners, directors, managers and professionals. If you are looking for a business coach, business mentor or help with stress please contact Liz on 01780 765270 or email Liz@makinithappen.co.uk to arrange a free consultation session.


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