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All I Really Need to Know in Business, I Learned in Athletics


By Mike Jacoutot, Managing Partner

It is funny, the older I get, the more I reflect upon what I learned from athletics and competition. As a two sport athlete (soccer, wrestling) in high school and collegiate wrestler, I frequently reflect on those defining moments that have helped shape my career. Taking a page from Robert Fulghum’s "All I Really Need to Know, I Learned in Kindergarten,” I thought I would share a few of my key learnings with you. Whether you are a sports fan, or have competed in a sport on some level, or have someone close to you that is an athlete, I think you will be able to relate to the following life lessons:

  1. Be a humble winner and a gracious loser.

  2. Respect all, fear none.

  3. The secrets to success are three: attitude, personal accountability and perseverance…in that order!

  4. If you feel unhappy with your results, you have only to look in the mirror to stare the culprit straight in the eye.

  5. Progressive improvement is better than postponed perfection.

  6. Behind every great athlete is a great coach who refused to let them be anything but the best.

  7. Champions are not made in the ring, they are merely recognized there. It’s all the hard work, practice and preparation that makes them a winner.

  8. Practice does not make perfect, perfect practice makes perfect.

  9. It's all about continued and balanced improvement.

  10. It's not about being better than someone else, it's about being better than you were the day before.

  11. The Failure Formula: People fail in direct proportion to their willingness to accept socially accepted excuses for failure.

  12. What you do in practice, you will do in competition.

  13. If you’re not keeping score, then you’re only practicing.

  14. Bad habits are like comfortable beds, easy to get into and difficult to get out of.

  15. Envy and hate is a waste of energy.

  16. Being good is a stupid idea. The only thing that counts is getting better at a more rapid rate than your principal competitors.

  17. The difference between the successful person and the unsuccessful person is this: the successful person is in the habit of doing things the unsuccessful person doesn’t do.

  18. There is only one good thing about losing, it shows you where you are weak, so that you may become strong.

  19. If you do not believe you will win, you won’t—attitude is the start of everything.

  20. Operate in a steady state of uneasiness. The competition is scouting you.

  21. Don’t read your own press clippings because you’re never as good as they say you are and you’re never as bad as they say you are. See #20.

  22. Remember, it is not the pursuit of happiness, it is more the happiness of pursuit—enjoy the ride!!

There are many more, but you get the picture. Whether you are leading a sales organization or an HR department, I challenge you to take any one of these “life lessons” and tell me it does not apply to your business. Lying in these pearls of wisdom are keys to building a “system of reinforcing activities” to improve results.

At Butler Street, we help companies and their people grow by helping them to get their mind right and their actions right with a strong customer focus. As the late, great Green Bay Packers’ Coach Vince Lombardi used to say, “Winning is not a sometime thing, it is an all the time thing. You don’t do things right once in a while…you do them right all the time.” Click CONTACT to learn more.

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