For the majority of us…winning feels really good.  When it comes to the world of sports, it may be winning a soccer game, a boxing match or finishing first in a race. Simply insert your favorite sport and you’ll be able to relate. Thinking about athletes, they’re unique individuals and having a competitive streak is pretty common among them.  Of course a significant amount of training and physical stamina is par for the course, however there’s another critical factor and that is the mindset of the athlete.

Recently I had the privilege of coaching a client who was also an avid soccer player. That got me thinking about ways to help a sports-minded individual improve how to communicate by capitalizing on the analogy of sports.  It made perfect sense to me and fortunately it also made sense to my client.

Athletics and communication have this in common:

1. Two types of mindsets. People may hold either a fixed or growth mindset about their level of ability (Carol Dweck, Lewis & Virgina Eaton Professor of Psychology). Ms. Dweck explains “fixed”as one where you believe you have fixed traits that are gifts which you either have or you don’t.  Conversely, “growth” means you believe you can cultivate abilities with practice.  According to Ms. Dweck, it is mindset that distinguishes champions from the rest.

2. Competition is a factor (although not all communication is competitive, think about applying for admission to college, job interviews, bidding on a project).  My recommendation is to develop a communication plan to ensure you’ll have a competitive edge.

3. Focus is pivotal.  Always know what your intention is and go so far as to write it down.

4. Learn from your setbacks. Former NFL player Jeremy Bloom (Fueled by Failure) believes all journeys have setbacks. He discusses the value of having an attitude of “I’ll get over everything” vs. a victim attitude.

5. Be willing to grow. Whether you didn’t win the game or didn’t get selected for  the promotion or new job, be receptive to strengthening your skills and developing yourself.  Seek any avenues you can to fortify who you are and what you offer.

In business, we’re all athletes in many respects.  It’s truly not about winning or losing–it’s what goes on between your ears, which is your mindset.



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