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What can business learn from the Olympics? Part Two …

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To be successful in business – play sport!

In the second part of a two part series, Choix Consultant Adrian Rattenbury looks at key aspects to being a ‘Corporate Athlete’, what Business can learn from sport and to be successful in business – play sport!

Here is a list of skills generally accepted as being important to be successful in business or the work environment.
• Team work
• Leadership
• Strategy
• Tactics
• Communication
• Learning to win
• Learning to lose
• Commitment
• Discipline
• Dedication
• Vision
• Self-Motivation
• Stress Management
• Decision making
• Etc…

Yet how do we learn these skills? quite simple – play sport. Irrespective of the level at which you play, you will learn most of these skills. Most people who do not play sport do not start to learn many of these skills until they start work for the 1st time. How many businesses, office environments and daily work routines require a team effort from the cleaner to the CEO everyone is part of the team. Yet for many people the work place is their first experience of this whereas those people who grow up playing and participating in sport have many years’ experience of these skills before the first day at work.

From a sports point of view, we have many young athletes and many more parents ‘sacrificing’ their education to pursue a life in professional sport either for the fame and glory or the financial gains which can accompany success. But consider this, more than 50% of the players playing on the professional Tennis Tour never win any prize money, none, zilch, de nada! on the other hand to play on the professional tour costs a minimum of £25,000 a year even at the basic level. So yes, you may win $3.5million for winning Wimbledon but there are thousands of people that don’t!

The chances of becoming professional in any sport are slim, yet, anyone who has that dream must try to achieve it, there is no worse question to have to ask yourself “I wonder if”? or “if only”? but this motivation has to be levelled with realism. I made this kind of presentation recently to a large group of parents who were all considering ‘sacrificing ‘their child’s education for their pursuit of their sporting dream (not sure if it was the child’s dream or their parents!) by the end of the discussion the vast majority of parents had realised that they had to be realistic in their dreams and on the other hand look at all the positives which their child is gaining and benefitting from through being involved in sport.

I then repeated the presentation to a number of parents who were pursuing a life of academia, career and business goals for their children (again not really sure whose dreams these were) This presentation addressed the skills needed to have a successful career or business and by the end of this presentation the vast majority of parents were going to look for a sport for their child to participate in. Why? They realised and were shown the skills that a young person can learn through sport which equips them for life, skills that are almost impossible to learn in virtually any other environment.

So what can business learn from sport or what can sport learn from business? There are so many skills we learn through sport that we use in business. Professional sports clubs have highly developed and structure scouting systems trying to find the next ‘talented’ athletes. Business also looks for the gifted and talented. Business is also a major player in sport at all levels through sponsorship but when is the last time a sponsor of a junior team, league or event went to watch the event? When did they go and look for the next leaders, the great communicators, the motivators, the tacticians etc… maybe this is where the next business leader is to be found, the next entrepreneur, the next CEO developing their ‘business’ skills at an early age through sport!

If you need help or advice with your approach to people management, making a positive impact or are interested in being a Corporate Athlete, speak to Adrian Rattenbury or one of the Choix Team.

Adrian Rattenbury – Sports Consultant and Head of the European Registry of Tennis Professionals (RPT)

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