Transitioning from athletics to business, or from any environment into a new one, brings real challenges. You are now entering a new world, with different rules, different measurements of success, and different skills that are valued. Though these transitions are a natural part of life, we can easily struggle to generate the same success in the new environment that we had in the previous one.
We can exacerbate the difficulties of transition when we focus only on the differences between the two environments and forget about the commonalities. There are principles that translate across environments, and skills you have learned as an athlete that will translate into your business life. Whatever is lacking in your experience or skill set, remember that you are not starting from ground zero, and you have skills you can build upon.
One of these principles that translates across environments is value creation. The terminology might be different from sports to business and into other realms, but the idea is the same: those who contribute to the success of others and the greater good will find themselves with opportunities and rewards.
Remember how this plays out in the realm of athletics. Players most valuable to the team, the school, or the organization might have different skills, different experiences, or different roles, but they all have one thing in common – they contribute to the success of the team.
Think of athletes who weren’t skilled enough to contribute to the success of a team at the next level of competition. When that season started, they were either cut or benched as a result. Think of athletes who had skill but didn’t prioritize the success of the team. When it became evident that their skill did not translate into team success, their opportunities dried up.
Then there are those who were valuable to team success. They may have played different roles on the team – superstar, role player, specialist, etc. – but so long as they contributed to the team success, they continued to be given opportunities to play and served a valuable role on the team.
The realm of business might have many differences when compared with the realm of athletics, but one similarity is value creation. Those who find a way to contribute to the success of their customers and clients will serve a valuable role in their industry and will find more opportunities and greater rewards as a result.
Let’s break down what this looks like and a tangible example of how this works.
As a real estate agent, you need to become a valuable member to your client’s success if you want to find continued opportunities for more clients and earn continued revenue from your deals. If you don’t have the skills or knowledge of the industry to help your clients find and make deals, you won’t have an opportunity to help them for long.
Of course, this is fairly obvious. But similarly, if you have the skills and knowledge but can’t translate those into client success, the opportunities you do find will not generate more opportunities or financial reward.
On the other hand, if you can play a role in helping your clients find consistent success, you will gain the rewards of that deal but also generate more opportunities as you build your expertise and reputation within the industry.
It really is this simple, and many times the difference between success and failure is the same as it is in sports, either not developing the right skills for the job or not effectively translating those skills into success for your clients.
While each industry has its own required skill set, I want to focus on three character skills that will help you to improve your ability to create value in any business setting:
1. Leadership in value creation
2. Becoming a proactive contributor
3. Building a team to maximize value creation
First, what role does leadership play in creating value in business? In some ways, it is similar to athletics. When it is time to fulfill your role, you need to step up and act. Good athletes take responsibility for their production. You have learned this in sports. The same is true in business. There are times you might feel under prepared or overwhelmed, but you need to step up and fulfill your role to the best of your ability.
In contrast, as an athlete you are used to being coached and directed. But in business, there are times when you will need to take your own initiative with customers and clients, and you will become the coach. As an athlete you have learned what a good coach looks like and the difference he can make in your team’s success. Now begin to serve as that guide for your own customers and clients and help direct them toward their own success.
Second, what role does proactivity play in business value creation? Good athletes know that in certain moments, they cannot wait for instruction in order to act. In the same way, value creation in business requires initiative on your part. To find customers or clients, to showcase your skills, to demonstrate your expertise, you will need to take initiative in the market.
Athletes are used to following the strategies of others and submitting to the goals of the team. The same is necessary in business, but now you might be the one who creates the strategy and develops the goals. If you are used to executing the plan of others, you will need to work on developing your own initiative in order to contribute more proactively in the marketplace.
Finally, what role does a team play in your ability to create value in business? Good athletes know that even for those who know their role and execute it, success is always a result of a greater effort of contribution from those around them. Remember how many people helped you as an athlete prepare for and execute your performance – trainers, coaches, teammates, etc. Without their help your performance would have suffered.
Your ability to create value in business also depends on who is around you. To maximize your ability to serve your customer, you will need others contributing to other aspects of your business and assisting with other responsibilities in your business and life.
Additionally, finding new clients or helping a current client find success on a specific deal may require bringing in specialists in areas where you lack expertise. Spending time building a quality team and being willing to get help when needed can make the difference between victory or defeat in specific deals and in your business success overall.
You know what a good team looks like and how it operates. In your athletic career, you weren’t required to build that team, but simply to fulfill your role. Now you are the GM of your life and team. You will need to identify what contributions are necessary for success and find those who can fill those roles. But when you do, you maximize your own ability to serve your customers and clients and provide value to them, which will in turn create more opportunities and generate greater rewards for yourself.
While there are many differences between the realm of athletics and business, do not be overwhelmed, but remember the similarities and the skills you already possess which you can build upon. You have already been taught many principles that will serve you well in the realm of business, so do not be intimidated by the challenges that lie ahead in this transition, but embrace this new season and new environment and see it as one where you might achieve great success.
If you are searching for a business opportunity where you can apply some of the skills you learned in sports, consider real estate and think about joining my team. We focus specifically on helping athletes transition into business and use the industry of real estate as our pathway, and whether this is a first step or long-term career decision for you, I would love to help you on this journey.
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