August 31, 2017
There have been many comparisons between sports and business. I know because I have made many of them myself. And while there are similarities there are major differences that can cause problems in business if you don’t adapt the concept from entertainment and sports and make the necessary adjustments.
These thoughts crystallized as I watched Guns and Roses perform last Thursday night at Investor’s Group Field.
In entertainment, musicians:
- Perform their concert for up to 3 hours
- Perform two to three times per week (not usually every day)
- Travel in between shows to another city
- Practice in between shows and sound check the day of the show
- Do not tour all year
- Spend time writing new songs or recording a new album
- Don’t have great energy and put in a mediocre performance (no refund for fans)
In sports, here are some of the highlights of a season:
- NFL = 16 games; CFL = 18 games; NHL and NBA = 82 games; MLB = 162 games
- Most seasons are 8 to 9 months depending on how far a team progresses through the playoffs
- The off season can be at least half a year
- You don’t play every day (although it seems like baseball does)
- the actual games are only 3 to 4 hours max
- Most players do not even play the full 60 minutes of a match
- More time is spent on training, practice and preparation than actually playing
- Have an off game where they miss easy shots, drop balls or play poorly (no refund for fans)
In business, employees:
- Work 35 to 40+ hours each week
- Typically get 2 to 4 weeks vacation (not usually used for training but rest and relaxation)
- May receive between 8 and 40 hours training each year
- Have to perform at peak proficiency for each customer or business interaction
- Too many mediocre interactions or mistakes may result in dismissal
- Training programs may get removed because of a need for budget cuts
You can see that the similarities between the operation of sports/entertainment and regular business is minimal. A focus on daily activities in business, adjusting on the fly, and a need for optimal performance is what most people have to do each and every day. I am certain that some people would love to have the “easy life” of sports figures and entertainers.
Let me also clarify that the sports stars and entertainers have invested a lifetime of deep practice and work to perfect their craft. Because of the high intensity of the games/concerts in their respective fields the practice and preparation is absolutely essential to deliver a winning performance.
Top performers in business also spend their extra time to prepare and provide themselves with a leg up on their colleagues and competition. Sales reps that study techniques and take training programs and then apply what they learned will be better over the long haul compared to someone who just shows up and puts in their 8 hours each day. I am not advocating a 24 x 7 mindset because this leads to burnout. I am suggesting that you must make an extra investment in yourself so that you can increase your chances for success.
It is what you do in the dark that leads to your success in the light. What do you do to get better in your business role when you are not at work?
There is a wonderful quote from Martin Luther King:
“If a man is called to be a street sweeper, he should sweep streets even as a Michaelangelo painted, or Beethoven composed music or Shakespeare wrote poetry. He should sweep streets so well that all the hosts of heaven and earth will pause to say, ‘Here lived a great street sweeper who did his job well.”
Everyone should strive to be their best and make the investments in themselves to achieve their true potential. We are not all going to be the MVP or the President of the company. But we can all be the best version of ourselves. No one can ask more of another person than this. And if every employee gave their best each day in every customer interaction or meeting with a co-worker, the productivity and success of organizations would climb through the roof as well.