Think Like An Athlete To Run A Better Business

Ursula Ringham

The United States Women’s soccer team just won the FIFA World Cup for a third time. It took 16 years of blood, sweat, and tears to achieve this incredible feat. Professional athletes are respected, loved, and held in awe by their fans and competitors. What we don’t see, however, is the hard work that goes on behind the scenes into OlyWomenSoccermaking an athlete and team a success.

The same can be true in business. You can help your business achieve the same notoriety and connection with your audience if you adopt the traditional characteristics of a world-class athlete. Here are my five tips on how to think like an athlete to run a better business:

Dedication

Great athletes are dedicated to their profession. It’s not a hobby. It’s not a fleeting interest. It is a sacred, core part of their being that permeates every facet of their lives. USA women’s soccer athlete Carli Loyd knew this from a young age. She had to work hard to take her skills to the next level and ultimately receive the the Golden Ball at the World Cup as the tournament’s best player.

You must feel the same way about your business. You must also strive to surround yourself with business partners and employees who have a similar level of dedication to the goals and overall growth of your company. When you and those around you are excited about and dedicated to the products and services that your business has to offer, you are likely to see higher productivity, rising employee morale, and lower turnover.

Discipline

Regardless of their level of inherent talent, every athlete needs to have the discipline to practice efficiently, eat healthily, and exercise regularly in order to grow stronger in their form. Coach Jill Ellis came on board just over year ago. She had many questioning her ability to lead a team to the World Cup. Through hard work, creative coaching, and discipline, she silenced these doubters by leading the USA women’s team to victory.

Your business is no different. You must have the discipline to rid yourself of employees who aren’t willing to work hard, sever ties with businesses that undermine your growth, and consistently set and strive to reach goals that will help make your business successful. Being on time, showing up to work as scheduled, holding regular team meetings as planned, and following through on disciplinary actions for inappropriate conducts as agreed are all examples of maintaining a high level of discipline in your business.

Determination

One of the biggest advantages that athletes have over most other people is that they are never willing to let any loss be their last bout. They have the spirit that it takes to keep fighting through minor mistakes, intense failures, and even the threat of total defeat. We only have to look at Abby Wamback. Back in high school, her team was close to winning the state championship but lost in the final minutes of overtime. She used this failure to propel her forward and help her become the athlete she is today. And after 16 years of fighting the ups and downs of competitive play, she finally won a World Cup.

You and your team must have the same level of determination. Being determined means that failure, setbacks, and uncertainty about the future will not deter you from striving towards greatness. You must continue through the ups and downs and show determination in your actions.

Drive

No distinguished athlete stopped moving forward when they won their first match. True athletes constantly push for the next level of greatness. Christine Ramone is the oldest player on the USA women’s team. She has played professional soccer for 19 years and seen her share of obstacles to maintaining an elite athlete status. But through hard work and an inherent drive, she is now part of history, playing on two teams that earned two World Cup titles.

Your business needs to constantly be innovating. Your goal should always be to secure your spot as the top company in your industry. If you’re already in the position of being the best, your focus should be on staying there. People and businesses who lack drive are consistently complacent. “Well enough” is always okay with these types of people. Strive to be better than the best.

Decisiveness

Athletes have learned from an early age what decisions need to be made on the court, on the field, or in the ring. Hesitation could mean defeat or injury. Athletes can make a split-second decision and commit to it. Nowhere is this more evident than during the World Cup with Carli Floyd’s third goal in the final game. Carli found herself with the ball 50 yards out for the goal. She saw the Japanese keeper was out of the box, and in a split second decided to take a shot. With Carli’s years of training and soccer skills, she caught the keeper off-guard and scored a remarkable goal.

The same goes for your business. You must make and commit to decisions for the good of your agency. Sticking to your decisions, methods, and your word on a regular basis will only aid in the growth of your enterprise.

Although you might not be a professional athlete, you can run your business like one. It takes dedication, discipline, determination, drive, and decisiveness, but you too can take your business to the next level by following this sage advice.

Want more insight on future-focused management strategies? See The Future Of Work: Understand, Prepare, And Innovate.


About Ursula Ringham

Ursula Ringham isthe Director of Digital Marketing at SAP. She manages social media and digital marketing strategy for the small and midsize business community. She was recently recognized as one of 15 Women Who Rock Social Media at Top Tech Companies. Prior to SAP, Ursula worked at Adobe and Apple in their Developer Relations organizations. She managed strategic accounts, developer programs, edited a technical journal, managed content for an entire website, and wrote and taught course curriculum. In her spare time, Ursula writes thriller novels about the insidious side of Silicon Valley.