6 Secrets to Sports (and Life) Success
Updated: Jun 22, 2021
6 Secrets to Sports (and Life) Success
The concept of sports skills functioning as life skills, in general, is hardly revolutionary. Evidence has been accumulating for a long time that playing sports (even if you aren't extraordinarily talented) can help you in your personal and professional life. It makes sense that if you play team sports, you have a fundamental understanding of teamwork that translates into an understanding of how work teams cooperate to beat the competition.
Sportsmanship skills you may have learned as a kid can translate to life skills decades later. Failure, adversity, persistence, and success are all building blocks to the athlete; studies have shown that students who play sports in high school demonstrate higher levels of leadership, self-confidence, and self-respect. Astoundingly, those benefits of participating in athletics can persist for decades! Here are six secrets of success that translate from sports skills to life skills. 1. The Appropriate Attitude Is Essential Without an attitude of determination to do what needs to be done, you don't have the fuel that feeds success, whether in your personal life, your professional life, or on the sports field. Knowledge of the "game" and experience in it is important, of course, but if it isn't inspired and fueled by a determined, positive attitude, any success is likely to be fleeting. 2. Training Lays the Foundation for Success Rare is the person who can develop true expertise in any skill without training. For example, you may have attempted to teach yourself how to use a software package, only to discover that when you take a four-hour class learning how to use it, you come away with a much higher level of performance than you had to go into the class. Whether it's tennis, cooking, analytics, or sales, training makes a difference. 3. It Takes Practice--A Lot of Practice Of course, there's such a thing as innate ability and inborn characteristics. Olympian Michael Phelps' enormous wingspan and flipper-like, size 14 feet certainly didn't hurt his abilities in the 4 x 100 medley, but people who rely on "innate ability" and don't put in the plain hard work of regular, demanding practice are not the ones who succeed. Practice is indispensable to becoming a virtuoso. 4. Treat Failure as the Gift It Is Failure is a standard feature on the road to success. The surest way to squash someone's desire to succeed at something is to be intolerant to failure. Guiding people through failure with practical solutions teaches that failure is not an anomaly, but an expected feature on the road to success. When you master your current ability level, you proceed to new challenges, some of which you won't master right away. But that's how you take your skills to the next level. 5. Know What Confidence Is and How to Use It Developing confidence requires awareness of your internal "self-talk" and learning to replace the negative with the positive. There will be times when you have to "fake it until you make it", whether that's when your skate laces fail or when the AV equipment for your tech presentation malfunctions. Preparation, positivity and the courage to make mistakes are all ingredients of confidence. 6. Having Fun Is Necessary Too Finally, it's perfectly OK to have fun. Many of us are guilty of practicing that piano concerto endlessly, but never letting go and enjoying playing it. When you reach a goal, give yourself permission to enjoy it, and congratulate others when they accomplish great things. The Chicago Cubs built upon several years of development of a culture of fun in the organization, and they won the 2016 World Series. You can have fun while still being driven and goal-oriented. Life skills and sports skills share much in common. But don't worry that you'll never make it in business if you didn't play sports growing up. What sports offers is teamwork, practice, goal-setting, and hopefully a degree of enjoyment, and you can get those things in many other environments, like community theater, a volunteer group, or a chess club. A foundational attitude of doing what needs to be done, built upon with training, consistent practice, acceptance of failure, fostering of confidence, and having some fun with it will turn you into a winner on the playing field or in the office.