There is this notion that dedication in athletics blocks other experiences. “Your passions forge your fetters,” my ninth grade history teacher said; in essence, anything that you are committed to creates barriers, whether it’s sports or something else.
For us as athletes, our sports are our lives. We can’t go with friends to the beach because we have a tournament, and most of our work experience comes from sports camps — but we accept it.
John Keyser, a business leadership coach and founder of Common Sense Leadership, sent me a great article that got my wheels rolling for this week’s piece. The article — “The Secret to Being a Power Woman: Play Team Sports,” found on Forbes.com — looks at the relationship between high achieving female athletes and their careers later in life.
While the article focuses on women, there are certainly lessons in sports that apply to both men and women and that carry over into the work place.
“There are very relevant experiences that you gain through sports that you don’t necessarily realize,” said Stephanie Tolleson, a former Trinity University tennis champ turned sports marketing power player. In 2005, Sports Business Journal named Tolleson to its Top 20 Most Influential Women in Sports Business, as she represented clients such as Monica Seles, Venus Williams and landed them mega-endorsements with companies like Sony.
“Leadership, teamwork, management, believing you can accomplish anything, politics, coaching — all those things translate directly into business. If you look at sports, it is a business environment. . . the team leader is the CEO, the team is the executive staff, the water boy is the administrative support staff — it replicates business in a lot of ways and the skill set emulates businesses as well.”
As an athlete, you are working to build qualities that employers find admirable everyday in practice, down to showing up on time. Don’t sell yourself short. Yes, your resume may consist of a handful of awards all related to your sport, but that says something very positive about you. You are dedicated, hard working, and driven.
As a member of a team you have developed your communication skills, understand the value of teamwork and acknowledge that in a chain each link is connected. Go ahead and describe yourself as a “goal-oriented team player” — who wouldn’t want to hire that type of person to work with?
“Athletes believe that they can do anything because that’s just what you believe as an athlete,” Tolleson said.
I love that sentiment, and she’s absolutely right. Honestly, who sets themselves up for adversity more than athletes? It’s what makes us better. The same “Go Get It” mentality that is applied to our sport is the same thing that we bring to the professional world. Go after that internship, part-time job, and new position. Go get it, and excel.
Monica McNutt was an All-Met basketball player at Holy Cross Academy who went on to star for the Georgetown women’s team. She will be offering advice to high school athletes who are looking to make the leap to college sports.
Got a question for Monica, or an idea she can use for a future post? Leave it here in the comments, or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter at @__MCM__.
College recruiting: Finding a program that fits you (Oct. 25, 2011)
Secrets to success: Food and rest (Oct. 11, 2011)
Introducing “Transition Game” (Oct. 4, 2011)