I enjoy collecting inspirational quotes from luminaries, but I have found sports personalities especially intriguing since sports and business have so much in common.
In order to succeed at the highest level, athletes and coaches must have passion for their endeavor, a strong work ethic, and a constant drive even when faced with incredible setbacks and obstacles. This is something every business person can relate to. What can you specifically learn from the world of sports?
Here are some of my favorite words of wisdom from top sport leaders that have helped me when I need a dose of inspiration and guidance in business and life:
“You miss 100 percent of the shots you don’t take.”–Wayne Gretzky, hockey legend
In business, you have to research, strategize, plan, and then execute. It’s the last part that is often the most difficult. But Gretzky’s message here is that when it’s time, you must have confidence to take the shot; otherwise, you will always miss.
I once had a business idea for my yoga studio that I abandoned because after reading the signs of my customers, I didn’t think it would take. Since that time, I have seen other studios offer similar ideas. Always remember that an idea is a living breathing thing and if you don’t do something with it, the idea will find someone else who will.
“I’ve learned that something constructive comes from every defeat.” — Tom Landry, head coach for the Dallas Cowboys
Failure is constant in every sport. You make mistakes, you miss shots, you lose games. It’s the same in business. But it’s how you respond to those mishaps that determines whether you grow as a business person.
Landry always made sure to gain something from every loss whether it was how he prepared, called plays, managed the game, etc. And he would use that information to be better the next time. It’s no surprise that he led the Cowboys to five Super Bowls, winning twice.
I have had many business ideas that initially didn’t go as planned. But I have found that stepping back and reviewing what went well and didn’t, and getting direct feedback from customers, can help make the next iteration a winner.
“Trust instinct to the end, though you cannot render any reason.” – Gary Player, pro golfer
Golf is an individual game and you have believe in your choices 100 percent whether it’s selecting the right club or reading the break of a putt. No one can make the final decision for you.
In business, you may seek the advice of experts, colleagues, and co-workers, but at the end, you have to make the call and that means you have to rely on your gut feeling. There have been many times when I decided to move into a new business offering or partnership instead of listening to my instincts and I eventually paid the price.
Of course, you should always do the necessary homework before making any business decision, but at the end of the day, your gut can tell you a lot on whether or not you should proceed.
“Do you know what my favorite part of the game is? The opportunity to play.”- Mike Singletary, Chicago Bears hall-of-famer
I like this quote because it shows that no matter how successful Singletary became, he never forgot that the opportunity to play professional football was success in itself.
No matter where you are in your career, always remind yourself that you are pursuing a passion and a dream. Many people never make it on the playing field, and being mindful of this fact can keep you grounded and focused during both the good and bad times.
“It’s supposed to be hard. If it wasn’t hard, everyone would do it. The hard is what makes it great.” –Jimmy Dugan, manager of the Rockville Peaches
This quote comes from Tom Hanks in the movie “A League of Their Own,” when he tries to talk his star player, played by Geena Davis, from quitting the team. Her excuse that baseball was too hard is rebutted by Hanks and he reminds her that the struggle means it’s something worthwhile.
This applies all the time in business. A little pain and adversity is what pushes everyone to strive for more, but once you get there, nothing is more gratifying.
Some of the best wisdom comes from those who have already succeeded. Athletes and coaches offer great lessons since they have faced many of the obstacles that business people confront on a regular basis. Reflecting of their quotes during tough times can help you push through and win.