Business Lessons From Top Athletes - The Malvern Observer

Business Lessons From Top Athletes

Malvern Editorial 16th Nov, 2022   0

Business and athletics share a lot in common as both contain elements of competition and teamwork. As such, the two fields stand to learn a lot from one another. This has given rise to a whole industry of literature, apps and courses, all focused on extracting the secrets of peak performance from each discipline and distilling them.

Sometimes the best lessons are obvious and straightforward, sometimes not so much. Below we’re going to take a look at the top lessons that budding businesses and striving entrepreneurs can take from the world of athletic excellence.

Know What You Can and Cannot Do

There are many ways this advice can be rendered, and all are as valuable for business as they are the world of competitive sport. For one, we can think of this as being a component of the maxim ‘know your limits’ – this piece of wisdom, on its own, is priceless for those wanting to experience sustained success in their endeavours.

But the ability to know what you can and cannot do is broader than you might think. It’s about knowing what resources you have at your disposal at any given time, and understanding how they can be deployed for maximum effect.




It’s also about understanding that many high-performing people struggle with the dreaded ‘control freak’ label. That is, in not knowing that:

(1) some things are unavoidably outside of your control whether you want them to be or not


(2) that sometimes things left to their own devices will often yield superior results.

This is backed up in the world of professional poker, no less, where cultivating the skill of seeking to control only that which you can, is considered among the top three secrets that professionals in this field have to impart.

Success Requires Vision

Those of a more traditional mindset may be forgiven for assuming that talk of visualisation practises amounts to little more than New Age superstition, but not only is there solid science to back up the efficacy of this method, but many leading athletes swear by it.

Olympic diver Troy Dumais, for example, uses visualisation as a way of mentally rehearsing his diving. Elsewhere, elite sprinters and cyclists have been found to record improvements in their reaction time by visualising launching into their race at the sound of a starter pistol.

In a broader sense, and one more applicable to the business world, many of the most successful athletes attest to the fact that the first step towards winning is in believing and having a clear image of what a particular outcome looks like.

Our beliefs shape the way we meet challenges in our lives, and a ‘glass half full’ attitude results in a person that is more inclined to seek a path and navigate obstacles, rather than give up or admit failure.

Likewise, in business, the most successful entrepreneurs are those who have a clear image of where they want to be in 5 or 10 years. Such professionals are far less likely to lose motivation in the face of setbacks.

Team Work Makes the Dream Work

We may think that solo athletes need only rely on their skill and motivation, but this is not true. Elite sport teams need to be able to rely upon one another if they’re to have any chance of securing victory.

Each sporting professional, be they competitors as part of a team, or in a solo event, has an enormous group of people – from nutritionists, to physiotherapists to trainers – backing and supporting them every step of the way.

This fallacy also shows up in the business world, where profiles of elite ‘self made’ billionaires warp our perspective of what success looks like. In actuality, there would be no Steve Jobs if not for Steve Wozniak and Ronald Wayne. Likewise, Amazon, which was founded by Jeff Bezos in his garage, could never have grown to the size it is today without the hundreds of thousands of employees that assisted in scaling the corporation and expanding its global reach.

Our final business lesson then, is not to believe that you can do it alone. You’ve always got to work with others.

Article written by Peter D

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