Characteristics of the Elite
It’s July, approaching midnight, still hot, in a messy room, no AC, tired from a long day, but I’m awake and working to get ready for the next day with two colleagues.
This exact situation played out for me not once, but three times, and with three completely different teams in July. How is this even possible? Well, simply put, I’m lucky. As an F10 coach, I get the luxury of coaching hungry and passionate entrepreneurs, so one night I was up working on a roadmap with one my startup teams. A week prior, in my project management roll at the F10, I was rehashing the Grand Opening of Batch 2 with the team and getting ready for the next day’s lectures. That’s two of the three days.
The third day is what got me thinking. Thinking about similarities between the coaching of entrepreneurs and elite athletes. Why sports, well, the third day exactly mirrored the previous two days, but instead of being in a hot F10 office, I was in a hot hotel room in Serbia with my two team captains getting ready for the next day’s game. I guess I forgot to mention that in my free time I coach the Swiss Baseball National Team. Outside of the F10 coaching, I coach baseball, a passion I’ve had since I was in diapers. And as we wrapped up our captains meeting, I started to reflect on the parallels between coaching athletes and the similarities of coaching startup teams.
Thus, I wanted to look at was the individual characteristics of the elite baseball player and how that translates to entrepreneurs. What makes these people successful.
Passion – You don’t play the game unless you love it. Watch the games of others, watch movies of baseball, play baseball video games, basically when you have free time you breath the sport. This is the same passion entrepreneurs have for their business. Staying up late to finish the project, going to conferences and meetup groups. Successful people always will have passion for their topic
Self-confidence – In baseball if you don’t have this you are doomed. Self-doubt is the number one barrier that keeps players from succeeding over the long haul and is often considered the number one mental skill to possess. When you are elite you know there are hundreds (sometimes thousands/millions) that want your position and you must know you are the best and deserve to be at the top. Entrepreneurs have already overcome their self-doubt, and are ready to compete because they know they have a unique skill set that puts them in a positon to succeed.
Determination – In baseball if you get a hit 3 of 10 times, you are considered great. So the players will have the prepare themselves to fail 70% of the time. Getting your mind right, trusting the process, will see the best players in a position to succeed. Same as for entrepreneurs, its really easy to work when everything is clicking and going well, but a true entrepreneur works just as hard, if not harder, when things are difficult. Failure is not an option for either person and both will find a way to succeed even if that path has many obstacles and roadblocks.
Mastering the Fear of Failure – I had a former player once come up to me and say, “I would hate it if I trained for 2 years leading up to the tournament and we didn’t win”. That fear crippled him and he eventually quit. Wonderful person, amazing skills, just scared to fail at the highest stage. These baseball players train for ten/twenty years to get to the highest point of Swiss Baseball to represent their country across Europe in large stadiums, and the successful elite player moves beyond that fear and still preforms. Now look at starting a business; you could lose money, your house, you will be away from family, etc., all things that scare of the average person, but the entrepreneur harnesses this and uses it as fuel to succeed.
No doubt there are more things you can find and elaborate on, but these four seemed to me as the most important and obvious traits that make up successful athletes and entrepreneurs.