I put on football pads for the first time in 1997. I was a nine-year-old boy, who until that point hadn’t seriously played any sport. To be honest, I had no idea how the game even worked. Though, I was lucky to have my best friend on the team, and his father as a coach. After the first couple of games, I remember questioning if football was for me.
Then the moment hit. We were playing a night game against the Langley Broncos and the coach had called a play specifically for me, I scored my first touchdown on that play.
I instantly fell in love with the game.
For a long time, football somewhat defined me. I played throughout high school and university. I even played one season overseas.
It’s now been a couple years since I formally strapped up the pads; however, I’m applying the lessons that football taught me every day in business.
Football breeds competition, and not only on game day. As a player, you’re constantly competing with your teammates in the weight room and at practice. This competitive attitude has carried over into my professional life. I find myself constantly competing, not only with other businesses but with our team internally. If someone is up early or putting in hours after work, we all feel compelled to do the same.
Be Part of Something Bigger Than Yourself
A team of 75 people working together towards one common goal is a powerful thing. It puts you in a mindset, where you will sacrifice almost anything for team success. Putting the team’s interests above your own is something you have to learn to do early on in football and business. Now, it may mean doing a task that I may not particularly enjoy but is pivotal to the business.
Whether it’s experiencing failure or success in football, it’s crucial to stay calm. Football is calculated, and when emotions get in the way of decision-making bad things happen more than not. This is the same in business. There are ups and downs, the key is to maintain a calm demeanor through whatever is thrown at you.
Be a Leader
I played quarterback throughout my football career. It was extremely demanding, but it built a foundation of leadership skills. One of the easiest ways to get a football team mad at you is to start pointing fingers when there are mishaps. Instead as a QB, much like a CEO, it’s your job to take responsibility for team failures.
Work Your Ass Off
“Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work.” – Thomas A. Edison
The best players on the football field are the ones who put in extra effort outside of scheduled team practice. It’s the same as becoming a CEO – if you want to be CEO you have to work like an intern.
When It’s Game time – Cut Distractions
A game of football demands full attention. Reading defenses, making adjustments, it all takes laser focus. It’s too easy to coast through the work day without accomplishing anything meaningful. Our team tries to avoid this by approaching the work day like a football game. We constantly make changes on the fly, adjusting our processes to better fit our customers, similar to halftime adjustments. We also do, what we call, “power-hour,” where we all go distraction free for an hour and get as much done as possible in that time.
Love What You Do
I loved football, whether it was practice, film sessions, or game day. It was intense, but most importantly it was fun. The same thing has happened with our business. It’s intense, dynamic, and damn is it addicting.
Football gave me the tools to go pro in something other than sports, and for that I say thank you.
Special thanks to the organizations below for helping shape who I am today:
North Surrey Minor Football
Saint Thomas More Collegiate
Simon Fraser University
University of Toronto
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