Sports and Business: a love story

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Author and Contributor

Louis Roux

2014 was about winter Olympics and the football world cup, and 2015 has already dealt with Handball and ski world cup whereas 2016 will see rugby world cup and summer Olympics. It seems that we live in a world more and more sportive, or at least with more and more communication about sport and sportive events. You walk in the street, you see banner ads about local sports events or sports products, you go on the internet, you find results and comments about the latest confrontation in Football, Basketball or Rugby, and you turn on the TV, you got spots about sports products, or the diffusion of the current competition. But what can we actually learn from this practice, what does the sport really give us? A lesson? A philosophy? A spirit?

Team sports: a way of learning team spirit and leadership

It is frequent to hear that a particular sport is a school of life. If we consider that a sport teach you how to behave with others, and how to play as a team, it is totally true. In collective sports, for example, the main aim of the game is to use the particularity of each player to help the team winning. Each place on the field is adapted to different profiles, and in a professional rugby team, a person that will play as #1 will be slightly different physically from a person that plays #15.

Then, we have to make a difference between the professional sports shown on TV, and the practice you could with friends on a sunny Sunday afternoon. In the professional area, a team is designed both for winning, and for the show. When you play with friends, the aim is also to win, but also to have fun, and to practice a physical activity, and most of all, you learn how to be a teammate.

What is the relation with business?

When working in a company, you always have to work with other, and sometimes follow a manager, or be a manager. We find a same philosophy in a sport team. You’re a player, you follow what says your coach and your captain, and you can even be the captain, if you prove yourself more valuable than the others. When you learn early in life how to deal with this kind of situation, it becomes much easier to deal with it while at work.

Team sports basically teaches you how to behave with other members of your team, how each one of them is efficient for the victory of the team. It also teaches you how to take the lead when others cannot, how to take advantage of a situation and then developed a strategy to adapt it in the quickest way.

At work, it is the same things; a coach becomes a manager, your teammates become your colleague, and the other team symbolizes the work you have to do, or the challenges braved by your company. Then, the team spirit is the best way to be efficient with others and to know how each person of the team can be useful in its own way.

Individual sports: fighting spirit and outperforming

If team sports logically teach you how to perform in a team, in an individual sport, you remain the only person you can rely on. Your body, your head and your skills are the only tools that you can use to get the victory, and yourself is the only person you can blame if you fail.

This “school” is totally complementary to team sports, and at a certain level, you can develop the same feelings in a professional team. The point here is that at an early age, some people will get the victory thanks to natural skills, for example in Judo, at age 12, the kids that will win are the one that grew up faster than the others and have already the muscles of an adolescent whereas the others still have the body of children. But later on, when every athlete is fully grown up, some will have more talent than others, but most of all, what makes the difference is the quantity of work you practice. It is the same in business; you may have some skills, but those ones do not do everything and you yet have to learn how to master them and to fulfill them.

In individual sports, you have two kinds of sports; the one you actually “fight” against someone and you have to be better than the others for the time of the match (tennis, judo, boarder cross, run …), or you have sports where you compete against yourself and you have to prove others that you are more valuable than your competitors (gymnastics, ski, sports that require a timing …). In a professional life, you are confronted to both of these situations: you have to outperform for yourself, to show and prove others what you are able to do and why you are so valuable. But you have sometimes to literally fight against others, to prove that you are valuable than another person for a job, to obtain a contract that is also coveted by another company.

Sports teach you that fighting spirit, it gives you the satisfaction of winning and the bitter taste of losing. It gives you the ambition to become stronger and better than the others.

It is really amazing to discover to what extent you are able to compare sports and business life. In sports such as in business, you have to deal with yourself among the others and learn how to behave in your ecosystem, what is your place, what are the rules, what could be the changes, how to adapt in order to make my team, or myself win. But most of all, sports is a way of knowing yourself and to discover what you can really add, and what you are really able to make happen.

Most of all: a way of knowing yourself: Anima Sana in Corpore Sano

In one of the most ancient philosophy of the world, we found the famous “Anima Sana in Corpore Sano”: “a healthy soul in a healthy body”. The quote has since been taken by the brand A.S.I.C.S that simply uses the first letter of each word.

What can we learn from that?

This doctrine promotes a way of harmony between a man’s body, and a man’s soul. Actually, it means that your body as to follow your soul, and your soul has to follow your body; you have to know yourself, what you are capable of whereas it is physically, or morally. This promotes a way of happiness: what a better man that the one who know who he is, what he is, what he can do, and what he cannot do. You have to see and know how to reach the unreachable, but also what are the limits of your mind and of your body.

With this ultra-level of self ‘esteem and self-confidence, you have to remain humble. What would you be pride of? You know yourself, you don’t have to prove yourself what you can do, and you just do it.

This philosophy is a one that is mainly transmitted through sports, but it is highly receivable in your everyday life, and even at work for your challenges to come. The self-knowledge is truly a goal that a man should attempt to reach, because what is more important that efficiency but happiness?

A happy man is an efficient man.

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