Beyond the Locker Room: 5 Ways Sports Influenced my Career

What are some of your fondest memories of growing up? For me, many stem from my involvement in sports. Even into adulthood, I recognize the value of what I learned on the field and in the rink, and respect the impact that they have had not only on my life, but on my career. Athletics have given me an outlet to develop leadership skills, learn the merit of hard work and dedication, and the impact of a team. Looking back, these are all characteristics that have assisted me in becoming a successful business owner. Here are 5 of the most valuable ways that sports have helped my career and personal development.

  1. Discipline – Commonly, athletes are accustomed to hectic schedules filled with work or school, family obligations, practices, and games. It is no surprise that playing sports has improved my time management skills. Because of this, I learned to utilize my spare time wisely and prioritize my tasks in order of importance. Recognizing what duties require immediate attention, what can be accomplished by day’s or week’s end, or what I can ask my team for assistance with has made me a more productive business owner and manager. Involvement in athletics has also instilled the importance of sticking to a schedule and routine, which creates more productivity.

  2. Respect – Though time management and the ability to abide by a schedule are vital skills, the main disciplinary lesson that I took from my sports background is about respect. It is critical to not only respect your coaches or superiors, but also your team. As the old saying goes, “employees don’t leave a company, they leave a manager.” By showing my team that I respect them, it has created a more positive work experience for my employees and increased productivity for my business.

  3. Healthy Competition – Sports tend to bring out the best (and sometimes the worst) in individuals. Competition acts as a motivator to set and achieve high goals, think creatively and outside the box, and to demonstrate the depths of your talent. Although competition is a natural motivator, it also goes hand-in-hand with pressure. Pressure to win. Pressure to be successful. Pressure to be the best. Competition in the workplace is similar to the competition on the field in that it pushes employees to reach for higher goals than those set by their colleagues. In businesses with a healthy, competitive work environment, operations never go stale or remain stagnant and complacent. There is always something bigger to achieve both in sports and in business, so do more and do better.

  4. The Value of Teamwork – Working together to achieve a common goal is the basis of any team, whether in athletics or in an office. The true value in a team far surpasses that, though. The true value in a team comes from the support from its members, and the relationships that form because of it. Oftentimes, your team becomes your second family and your biggest motivators. You want to be successful not only for yourself, but for the group of people around you. Together you can share ideas, responsibilities, and the gratification of accomplishing goals.

  5. The Importance of Losing – This seems a little weird, right? Think about it. Everyone knows how to win, but the most respected athletes also know how to lose. Losing teaches a valuable life lesson about hardship and how to bounce back. Let’s consider the Cleveland Cavaliers. In 2015, the Cavs lost the NBA Championship to the Golden State Warriors. After falling short, they refused to take no for an answer. They trained longer, played harder, pushed themselves to be better, and brought the trophy home the Cleveland the following year. Losing makes you humble, shows you how to handle disappointment and where you can improve. Losing forces you to work harder. Learning how to lose while maintaining a winning attitude is one of the most important lessons that I have learned. Things will not always go the way you plan no matter how much you practice. The sooner you can learn how to adjust your game-plan, the more successful you will be.

I have learned many lessons through sports and competition that have positively impacted my career and my life. With dedication and commitment, anything is possible. After all, there is no excuse for why things don’t happen, but there will always be a reason why it did.


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