Similarities Between Pro Athletes and Successful Entrepreneurs

You suck at the start.

There is no such thing as a natural talent, which is tough for a lot of people to come to terms with. Just as you can’t expect to take up a sport and be an overnight sensation, you can’t start a business with the expectations that you’ll be a multi-million dollar business overnight. So, yes, everyone sucks at the start and being okay with that is part of the mindset that allows successful people to make it through the beginning stages without quitting. Very few people are willing to make it through the stages where the results aren’t always obvious.

Built from failure.

The failure isn’t over once you make it through the beginning stages of your journey. This will happen often for athletes and entrepreneurs, who will naturally push themselves to the limits in the pursuit of excellence. Failure is not absolute, unless you quit. Failure is one of the best ways to learn where you need to improve and provides direction for moving forward.

Practice, practice, practice.

The path is clear, if you want to be the best at anything, you just have to practice more than anyone else is willing to practice. This is one of the toughest parts for athletes and entrepreneurs, because practicing over and over again seems like it can suck the joy out of something you love. What it really takes is the patience to understand that not every single part of the journey is exciting, but if you have enough passion you will enjoy what is just another part of the process of success.   

Incremental improvement.

The further along you are in your journey the harder it is to notice the improvements along the way. This can be disheartening and detrimental to athletes and entrepreneurs. At the beginning you can see and feel the improvement. It does get to a point when you begin to wonder how much the incremental improvement matters. It matters greatly if you truly want to be one of the best in the world. Once you are in the top 1%, the difference between the best and worst within the top 1% is so small it is seems unimportant. Where it shows is in the results, and there it is easy recognizable and very important.

It takes a team.

In all sports and in all businesses, it takes a team. Even single person sports like golf; you have swing coaches, trainers, and your caddy at a minimum. It takes more than just being the best individual, it takes bringing the best out in your teammates as well. Those who have played sports before, remember one teammate in their past that was a great player, but went nowhere. These are the types that have bad attitudes and blame everyone but themselves for failures. Having a team mentality in sports and in business is the only way to reach the pinnacle.

Success is not a destination.

In sports the pinnacle is winning the championship. So, why didn’t Michael Jordan quit after his first one. Most people would be content with just one championship, but the elite have ever evolving ideas of what success is. The elite don’t see success as a singular destination, they see success as the process that got them to a certain level, then once that level is reached they are looking ahead to a whole new level that most can’t comprehend. Those who become content, quickly loss what made them successful in the first place.  

Last thoughts.

I choose to relate entrepreneurs to pro athletes for good reason. Most people see star athletes and assume they were just naturally gifted, which is why they are so successful. Most people also see successful entrepreneurs and assume that they got lucky and that they were immediately successful. This is as far from the truth as you can get. That pro athlete practices more than you can even imagine, they eat, sleep, and dream their sport. That entrepreneur didn’t get lucky, they have had more failures and gone over more obstacles then you can even imagine.  In either case there is no easy route, there is no luck, there is just tons of work and passion, and a will to continue when others quit.