I grew up obsessed with sports and have realized more and more how my experiences have shaped my personality and preferences regarding my professional life. Here are a couple of insights from sports that you can apply to work.
You Achieve the Best Results When You Take Ownership
The first question I was taught to ask after a tough team loss was, “What could I have done differently to achieve a better outcome?”. This helped train me to self-assess instead of harping on how my teammates let us down. If you have an entire team of individuals whose first priority is to up their own game, you have a much better chance of greater future performance and the additional benefit of team chemistry not turning toxic.
This becomes painfully obvious in individual sports where your only options to shift blame are usually inanimate objects, nature, and unethical opponents. These are all things completely out of your control and not worth your mental energy.
In sports, it’s hard to honestly point fingers at others for poor performance. More importantly, it’s not useful. Treat your work experiences the same.
Competitiveness and Playfulness are Complementary
I definitely had one of these in more abundance than the other growing up and my colleagues will probably tell that is still true today. I was the teammate who’d rather be doing hard drills than spending all practice playing fun games if it meant we were more prepared to win, but in my later years (I’m an old 27) I’ve come to appreciate the importance of both to high performance.
The greatest athletes are both competitive and playful.
Their competitiveness provides fuel to all the hard work they put in to put themselves in a position to win and brings out a killer instinct in the biggest moments.
They also have a sense of joy about the entire process. They have fun overcoming challenges and reaching peak performance. Jordan shooting free throws with his eyes closed and Curry’s regular shimmying after a big shot are great examples.
The confidence that comes from hard work allows top performers to play with a looseness and swagger that allows them to get the most out of themselves.