For years we have heard that youth sports builds character. It is well known that sports provide a variety of physical, mental, and social benefits for those that participate. Those skills carry on well into adulthood, and can have positive impact on business success. Here are the 5 essential skills I believe translated to the workplace from my participation in sports.
- Success Involves Teamwork
This is the first lesson you learn as a child playing sports and possibly the most valuable. You need to trust that others will do their job, or you won’t succeed. Sports teach you to own up to your end of the bargain, and trust that others will do the same. In business, this can be translated to delegating tasks to others and being receptive to learning from the expertise and experience of others.
- Persevering Despite Failure
Mike Ditka, famed coach and three-time Super Bowl champion once said “You’re never a loser until you quit trying.” Playing sports teaches you the valuable lesson that you will not always succeed. Moving past your failures and persevering is the key to achieving your goals. In business, learning to embrace mistakes and take them as a learning opportunity is equally important. These setbacks and missteps are critical elements of the innovation process.
- The Value of Preparation
There is an often quoted saying in sports, “”The will to win is not nearly as important as the will to prepare to win.” Sports involve a lot of practice, watching film, and working out. There is no quick fix to become a top athlete, and it is evident when looking at the world’s top athletes that they commit to being fully prepared for the game. The same goes for a big meeting or public speaking. Outlining your speech and rehearsing it over and over again is one of the best ways to ensure an effective presentation.
A 2012 Cornell University study found that teenagers who play sports developed higher levels of leadership, self-confidence, and self respect.  The ability to work well with others is an essential part of being a leader, and a team environment helps foster this trait.
- Resolution of Conflicts
In sports, much like in an office setting, you may find yourself in high-stress environments that can lead to conflict. Sports teach you how to resolve these interpersonal issues and move forward as a team.
To conclude, sports teach us to be part of something bigger than ourselves. To work together towards our common goals, and to value incremental success. Those are important lessons we can carry with us to work and beyond.