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5 Characteristics of Athletes You Need for Business Success

By | | Pat Sullivan

Michigan State basketball coach, Tom Izzo, wrote “Players play. Tough players win.” I would add to that, “It’s tough to win.”I think if you, as a leader, are looking to build an organization that is successful – that wins – you first have to accept that it will be tough. There are no shortcuts to success. In my 44 years of coaching, I was fortunate to coach a lot of tough players. I believe the toughness I have seen in athletes corresponds well to any organization or business.

Athletic toughness encompasses the following five characteristics.

1. Work

Tough players work at practice. When they tie up their shoes and step across that line for practice, they are ready to work. They take no part of practice off and work hard at every drill which leads to their not taking a play off in games. Is it not the same in business? When you open that door for work, be ready to roll up your sleeves and go to work.

2. Habit

Tough-minded players are the same every day and toughness is one of their habits. They don’t need to be motivated because they are self-motivated. They know no other way to approach practices but to go all-out. Their toughness and willingness to work hard consistently is their calling card and they become an ingrained habit.

“There may be people that have more talent than you, but there’s no excuse for anyone to work harder than you do.” – Derek Jeter

3. Ethics Matter

They play hard but never dirty. In athletics we know the difference between tough players and dirty players. Tough players play within the rules; dirty players try to intimidate opponents by doing things outside the rules – things that have no part in the game. We all respect tough players but feel that dirty players don’t belong in the game. We have seen some businesses play outside the rules and have watched their demise.

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