Business Is A Sport — Action Coach — Falguni Desai
Being a business coach, the similarities in vocabulary between the two disciplines, entrepreneurship and sport, has been on my mind for some time. Even the name of my profession hints at it — a coach.
I began browsing one afternoon and came across a 2018 article in the Entrepreneur, entitled ‘Business is the Ultimate Sport ’. The article focuses on both disciplines’ competitiveness, and I believe the do-or-die approach may not be necessary. Then I found a piece in the Harvard Business Review ‘Why Sports Are a Terrible Metaphor for Business ’. It is a US-based publication, and they centred the writing around American football, arguing the logic of the competition, team dynamic, and value creation are just too different. It’s an interesting perspective, and if you would like to read both articles, I include links in the footnote.
I guess the jury is out, and we all have to make up our own minds. I like the metaphor. And I would not draw a close parallel between business and any particular discipline, but I am attracted to two professional sportsmanship elements: training and mindset.
“It’s not the will to win that matters-everyone has that. It’s the will to prepare to win that matters.” — Paul “Bear” Bryant, American college football player and coach
That is what the difference is between businesses that get by and those that do really well: preparation. The willingness to assess their current form, honestly and unashamedly expose areas that need more work and bravely focus on bringing them up to scratch. Choosing what matters, the grand objective, the business equivalent of an Olympic medal, and going for it. Also, having systems in place to assist you in on the way — and react if your Olympiad is postponed for whatever reason.
Setting those priorities makes it easier to operate, to move away from the draining micro-management, save your energy for when it’s needed.
Excellence rarely happens by chance. It is talent supported by hard work. Businesses know that well. I have seen businesses — and their leaders — open at all hours, always on the phone, feeling anxious when their email notifications were turned off. Being available and supportive to your clients is one thing. When you are approaching a point of exhaustion, we are entering an area of self-preservation. Sport is a fine example of how to plan downtime.
After a hard training session, which in the business world may be a pitch, presentation, long session with a client, or an intense week of solid effort building your brand, a recovery session is in order. Top athletes enjoy (or endure) ice baths, massage sessions, rest.
They plan for it. It is part of the preparation, a vital element of a strategy to better themselves. Yet, I have met many business people who neglect that element. Or even perceive it as wasting time. What’s the risk? Burn-out, depletion of resources, even chronic fatigue. And slower development of your business.
“Do you know what my favourite part of the game is? The opportunity to play.” — Mike Singletary, professional football coach, and former player
When that happens, passion for your enterprise may no longer be enough to motivate you. Doubt and second-guessing is just around the corner. And the passion for your discipline is why you started your business in the first place, isn’t it? You love it. You’re really good at it. Nurture that feeling. It makes all other aspects of the business — especially the challenges — easier to overcome.
I feel like I have just scratched the surface, but this blog is a 5-minute read already, so I am going to leave you with this quote:
“Champions keep playing until they get it right.” — Billie Jean King, a former professional tennis player
And a thought: professional athletes get to the top form faster when working with a coach.
Originally published at https://actioncoach.co.uk on October 29, 2020.