By Mark Creedon
What did the football coach teach the business coach
A couple of years ago I had the great privilege of sharing the stage with Wayne Bennett.
For those of you who don’t know much about rugby league, the name Wayne Bennett may not mean much to you.
For rugby league aficionados, however, you will know that Wayne Bennett is widely regarded as the greatest ever rugby league coach.
Anyway, back to my story about sharing the stage.
I was presenting to a leadership team of one of our large coaching clients about the value of teamwork and the similarities between sport and business. Wayne and I shared the stage.
As I listened to Wayne talk about principles of sport and coaching a sporting team I was surprised by the abundance of similarities between business and sport.
Here are the top four similarities Wayne and I spoke about.
Rugby League is a game of inches and the most important inches are those between your left and right ear
Business is the same. Incremental steps are what leads to improvement in your business but each of those inch by inch steps can only have the biggest impact if they are implemented with the right mindset.
Go into a game believing you can win, and you increase the likelihood of that outcome fivefold.
Make plans in your business believing they can succeed and the same applies. Headspace and those important inches are so much more than self-belief though.
The primary thing you need to master is getting clarity on your ‘why’.
Knowing in your head exactly why you are acting in your business and believing in that purpose will push you substantially along the road to success.
It is the small improvements that make the real difference
Success is nothing more than a series of simple disciplines practised daily.
Conversely, failure is simply a few errors in judgment repeated every day.
Therefore it is the accumulative weight of our disciplines and judgments which leads to either fortune or failure.
Rugby league players practice simple drills, repeatedly. They get good at one thing at a time.
The same applies to business. Those businesses which fail are often those who try to improve everything at once, failing to stop and make small incremental improvements, one area at a time.
Wholesale change in a game plan will see a successful team start to lose games and the same is true in business.
When Coca-Cola changed everything, their bottle, the logo, and the recipe it nearly cost them their success.
Change one thing at a time. Improve one thing at a time and watch how that impacts your business before you move to the next.
Tapping into wisdom and experience
Wayne spoke about how as a coach of now some 40 years experience he listens to his own experience and taps into the wisdom of those who have been playing the game for some time.
I asked him whether he would take advice from a brand new player and whilst he said he would always listen to new ideas, there is great value in tried and proven tactics and listening to the voice of experience.
In Australia, there are about 25 million sports experts and probably about the same number of experts in the business.
Everyone has an opinion so you need to be careful about who you listen to. Give time to hear what people are saying but take action on advice from those who have been there and done it.
Listening to those who have made the mistakes and learned the lessons will save you time effort and potentially a whole lot of money.
Predicting sports outcomes can be as difficult as predicting the success of a business. You can be across all the details and data and then an x-factor like a GFC or Covid comes along to throw it all out.
Have you ever watched a game of football and suddenly some fresh amazing talent comes on the field, or an old player has a brilliant game and turns the result on its head?
You can’t predict an x-factor but if you take advice from those who have encountered them before you will at least be well prepared.
A team can’t win without a good coach
Every team needs someone who can take a helicopter view and show them their blind spots.
The coach doesn’t have to run on the field and play the game (although there have been some great captain coaches). They simply see what needs to be worked on and when and then guide.
Again, the same is true in business. Having a coach or mentor to make sure you are working on the highest and best use of your time will save you from making unnecessary mistakes.
Running your business ideas past a coach or mentor will help you to overcome confirmation bias and will keep you on the right path.
A Rugby coach will make sure the team works together toward a single objective and makes sure that every person on the team knows their role and does it well.
Your business coach will do the same.
So, next time you are watching a game, of football or whatever your favourite sport may be, think about what you can learn from the game that you can apply in your business. Like me, you may just be surprised about what there is to learn.
Mark Creedon is the founder of Business Accelerator mastermind by Metropole and business coach to some of Australia’s leading entrepreneurs – helping them build a true business, not a job.
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