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Learning Business from Changes in Football


We can learn a lot of lessons from watching sports that relate back to other areas of our lives and our business. Fran and Matt Tarkenton discuss a few lessons they’ve witnessed in football that can be applied to business.
Atypical Performance
You don’t have to follow precedent to perform well. Don’t be afraid to be your own unique self. Russell Wilson, for example, was an undersized quarterback in the NFL who was able to achieve success without being an ideal physical specimen for his position. In the same way that Fran was criticized for being small and then doing something seemingly outlandish by scrambling with the ball, Wilson has been successful despite all of his doubters. In business, it doesn’t matter how much money you have or how smart you are. What matters is who you are on the inside. Be willing to engage in fresh ideas and learn from them rather than believing the doubters who want to see you fail.

Short-term Focus
After a crushing defeat, great players don’t sulk in their sorrow. They get up and work to get better. Russell Wilson focuses every day on three ways to get better. Tom Brady and Bill Belichick are another example, as a duo who responds to media skepticism with answers about how they’re working harder each day. It’s the same in business. You have to get up every morning with a sense of desperation, a feeling that you must improve in order to compete with people who are constantly working to get better. It’s easy to look for ways to get rich quickly, but the fun of business is putting your hands in the soil and getting better by learning something new every day. Be curious, and never stop learning.

Sense of Purpose
Just like athletes who approach each day with a sense of purpose are better able to operate at a higher level, business people who have a mission to carry out are better able to have an impact over a long period of time. Rather than think about when you’re going to retire, think about what your mission is today. In addition to living a happier life you will live a healthier life, as people with a sense of purpose are scientifically proven to negate the risk of Alzheimer’s and dementia at an old age. It’s possible to live your entire life with meaning and purpose. Help people by delivering products of great value to each individual that does business with you.

Rather than worrying about next week or next year, stay in the moment. Create a sense of urgency to learn and improve, but don’t demean yourself. You might not be as smart, as educated or as physically gifted as your competitors, but you’re unique. If your purpose is to do great work, you can drive yourself to success regardless of the natural tools you been given. Look at what sports can teach you about business, and use these stories as motivation to persevere along your journey to success.

Published: August 6, 2013

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