February 17, 2019

Does Sport help develop business skills?

It seems to the casual observer that we are currently in the midst of a “sports epidemic”.   No matter where you turn, it is sport of one kind or another that grabs the headlines.

Consider the evidence; at the time of writing we are in the midst of cricket test series with Sri Lanka, the annual outbreak of Wimbledon fever is beginning to gather momentum, our Rugby team is battling it out with the All Blacks, Ascot has just finished, The British Open will shortly begin, and don’t get me started about a little thing called the World Cup which for me has rapidly lost its appeal following the early exit of England.

Yup! The normal rhythm of both college and domestic life has currently been set aside in homage to sport.  But wait…..maybe there is a lesson for all of us, as perhaps the skills learnt in the pursuit of triumph in sport are not so dissimilar to those required for a successful business career.  Just maybe some of the skills learnt are very transferable indeed.

A typical sportsman requires drive and competitive edge, a will to win and an ability to overcome adversity.  After all, are persistence and determination not the hallmarks of a successful salesman as well as a typical sporting hero?

The Fosby Flop
The Fosby Flop

If you look at the examples of many successful businessmen you will often find that they have encountered many setbacks and failures before finally hitting form and securing fame and fortune.  Take for example the story of James Dyson who initially was ridiculed for his idea on how to revolutionise the humble task of hovering the carpet.  His is a story that echoes the eventual sporting triumph of Dick Fosby who ultimately achieved legendary status as the inventor of the “Fosby flop” high jump style.  Like James Dyson he endured scorn and humiliation before the technique was proven to be a gigantic (no pun intended) leap forward.

Learning to cope with failure is an important lesson in life which we must all learn. It is an important attribute which as a Graduate Recruiter I noted was often sadly lacking in some new hires.  Up to that point in their lives it appeared they had only enjoyed academic success.  Did they not realise the tide of life was bound to turn at some point?  For some it came as quite a shock.

James Dyson
James Dyson

I’ve no doubt that the current tsunami of sporting events will subside …. It always does.  However, the lesson to be learnt by us all will remain.  It is this; if you are looking for a way to enhance new employability skills that will help you in your career, then you could do a lot worse than take up sport.

Anyone fancy a game of tennis?

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