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Sports and Sales: Are They The Same Thing?


I have played a lot of sport over the years and I think that many of my sporting experiences have shaped my attitude, style and approach to my working life too. It may be that my involvement in so much sport has directed me to a career in sales, and many of my observations are linked to this.

Sport can give you so many different perspectives to everyday life and challenges, and it’s a great way to help you focus on your goals and desired outcomes – both as an individual and as part of a team.

I have been able to understand that it is almost impossible to work well as a team if you do not really know the team goals, your role, how it fits in to the wider plan, the other roles that exist around you in that team and how you will work together. By playing, and watching, so many team sports I can appreciate that sometimes the best players do not win – a team that combines their talents, works hard for each other and is determined to do what they can to succeed will often beat more skilled opponents that do not operate as well together.

Self-motivation is critical, and although this is the case in everything you do throughout life, it is one of the key drivers of constant progress and improvement in sport and business. I have been fortunate to play several sports to a reasonable level, and I have been lucky enough to have played along with some great sportsmen and women. The difference between being a good amateur and a top professional is huge, some of this gulf between the levels can be attributed to the level of dedication, hard work and attitude of those striving to succeed. Talent is obviously required to start with, but I have seen outstanding talent fail (in sport and in business) because the attitude has been lacking.

Competition is also fundamental. Without competition it can be very easy to become lazy, sloppy and assume that you will always win without pushing yourself too hard. This will definitely ensure that you will be picked off by new players, teams and businesses – your successes will be short-lived and you will soon find yourself cast aside watching the rest of the world feast at your expense.

Self-motivation and competition should be the reasons you constantly look for improvement – in yourself, your team, your results, products, services and so on. The pursuit of this ongoing development should keep you hungry, pushing you to be ahead of your competition, driving you to reach the levels of success you desire.

You have to learn how to lose. Losing gracefully, showing respect and learning from your defeats will help you in the future. This applies to sport and business – knowing how to take the knock-backs and channel the emotions to focus on ways to win will be a crucial part of your next success. I have had losses in both an individual capacity and as a team member, but without them I wouldn’t know how to enjoy and celebrate the wins. You cannot know truly and fully how it feels to win if you don’t know how it feels to lose.

Opponents come in several shapes and forms. It could be one person at the other end of a badminton or tennis court, it could be the narrow and challenging par-4 that intimidates you from the tee, or it could be the team of bigger, stronger and quicker football or rugby players that run down the tunnel next to you. All your opponents can be beaten, you just need to find out how.

If you often lose and you keep doing the same things time and time again you will rarely win. Find a manager or a mentor that inspires you, coaches you and guides you – if they don’t challenge you to make changes you will never learn and develop.

(I’m sure many England football fans will agree!)

P.S. I have already had words with my mother about my haircut in the photo