RE: Why you should fill your company with (competitive) athletes
David Williams argues in his latest Forbes blog post that athletes posses better character traits that make for an exceptional hire.
According to David, athletes posses the following traits:
1. They have drive, and practice until the task at hand is perfected
2. Achieve their goals
3. Develop new skills
4. Are exceptional entrepreneurs
5. Strive for balance
6. Work well with partners and teammates
I agree with these statements. But, I think that Competitive Athletes are even better hires. Here’s why:
Athletes dedicate themselves and rely on their own self motivation to even participate in a sport for more than a year or two. Almost all parents encourage their kids to participate at first, but the fact of the matter — kids aren’t going to play sports if they don’t want to. This is the clear divide.
Those that stick with a particular sport or sports are forced to develop new skills, or quit. Example, in order to progress to the next level in ice hockey from Squirts to Pee-wee’s the sport moves to become a more physical game. The rules change, and checking is introduced. This changes the dynamics of the game and challenges players to develop defensive and aggressive tactics. Those that don’t rise to the challenge, quit.
Active players set goals — e.g. I want to make the A team or the 1s next year, and work to practice and attain these. Often times, this requires attending summer camps and training outside of playing the actual sport in order to reach the next level. This takes focus in addition to dedication.
As a serial entrepreneur myself, one of the absolute fundamentals that I live by is focus. When building your own company and developing something from scratch, you become inundated with tasks, calls, errands etc. The key is to focus. Knock down item by item and make sense of chaos, otherwise perish in the wake of the startup apocalypse. Athletes focus not only because of their own self motivation to develop new skills, but also because competing in sports forces athletes to intensely focus in short bursts.
This is why I think you should fill your company with not just any athletes, but highly competitive athletes who play complex team sports.
Ice hockey is an excellent case. It’s a fast-paced team oriented sport that requires players to discern complex situations and make split second decisions. This highly competitive sport provides exceptional character traits that empower many of the worlds most powerful financiers.
While you’re on the ice, in seconds… decipher between raw thoughts: pass, cut, stop, shoot, hit, position all while maintaining (subconsciously) to skate and puck handle. It’s brutally demanding.
I’ve played competitive ice hockey in the northeast (MA rep) for over 13 years and can say that this has significantly contributed to my entrepreneurial success. I attribute many of my critical thinking skills to my experience growing up in the rink. With countless hours on the ice, I’ve learned practical skills that have shaped my understanding of web development and entrepreneurship. From the complex nature of the tech infrastructure (hosting, bandwidth, scaling) to monetization and media buys, I have successfully scaled several website businesses including Bored.com and 766media.
It’s these traits (in addition to those David writes about): self motivation, focus, and ability to discern complex situations that enable competitive athletes to add massive value to any organization. I encourage you to comment below and continue the conversation.