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What can entrepreneurs learn from athletes?

Thu, 11/23/2017 - 09:27
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Like professional sport, entrepreneurship is a ‘low-percentage’ game: only few individuals have all the tools they need to reach the very top. In some sports, the chances of making it as a top-class professional have been calculated at one in 250,000.

Talent alone is rarely a guarantee of success in either field - professional sport or entrepreneurship;  it often comes down to also having the right attitude and mindset. As an entrepreneur, you could do worse than take a few pointers from the sportsmen and women who have made full use of their talents. Here are a few positive examples to follow:

Create a positive inner voice

It's little coincidence that top athletes – the Usain Bolts and Roger Federers – are usually the ones who appear most relaxed and confident as they step into the arena. Self-belief plays a big part, but whether sportsperson or entrepreneur, having a positive inner voice is essential in overcoming the inevitable defeats and setbacks on your road to success. Many athletes use a mantra – a repeated phrase or short statement that can help keep them locked into this positive mindset. Worth a try before your next pitch?

Be willing to be coached

Everyone needs someone who can help them harness their talent and channel it in the right direction. Some of the leading athletes in the modern era – the Williams Sisters for example – have had the benefit of parents coaching them from early childhood. Likewise, successful business owners tend to recognise the importance of coaching in their development, and will actively seek out opportunities for feedback from a trusted mentor or coach. As an entrepreneur, it's also important to look at the feedback you give yourself on a daily basis and examine how constructive this is.

Engage your team

To quote Michael Jordan: “talent wins games, but teamwork and intelligence wins championships”. Even individual athletes -  golfers and long-distance runners - acknowledge the important role played by the people around them. As the figurehead of the team, it's your job to create an environment where people know their own worth and are motivated to produce their best work. First, this means establishing clear goals and objectives that everybody understands and all are able to contribute towards.

Work REALLY hard

Talent is useful, but as Sir Alex Ferguson is quoted as saying “Hard work will always overcome talent when natural talent does not work hard enough”. People succeed through sheer hard work, putting in the hours to develop their craft - practising. Mixed martial arts champion, Conor McGregor, famously said “There is no talent here, this is hard work…You could be anyone if you put in the time.” If you want to succeed as an entrepreneur, you have to put in the time and the effort.

Of course, there are many different levels of success and you don't necessarily need to be a world-beater in order to enjoy the work you do or have a great entrepreneurial career. However, having the right mindset and attitude from the beginning can greatly increase your chances of feeling fulfilled in whatever you chose to do.

Sources: Abintegro; Crowdspring; Forbes; Entrepreneurial Insights

Image Source: Abintegro

The views and opinions expressed in this blog are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Pearson


Hi there, I'm Charlotte and I joined Pearson in September 2017 after graduating from Royal Holloway where I studied French. During my degree I spent a year abroad teaching English and interning at the French parliament. Outside the office I enjoy going to the gym, shopping , visiting museums and going to the cinema with my friends, as well as walking my (not-so-small) puppy, Max!

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