Lessons From Sports – Always Be Willing To Learn

Raise Your Hand
Raise Your Hand © UC Davis College of Engineering
I’ve always thought that there were valuable life lessons that you could learn from sports, and I think that there are business lessons that can be learned from sports as well. I’ve always enjoyed playing sports; so much so that I’d rather play than watch them on TV. As I got older I did what every player does when they can’t play anymore, I started coaching. I’ve been coaching basketball for about 10 years now and it’s taught me a lot. I’ve learned from the players I’ve coached and from the experience in general.

To everyone who has asked me about coaching I’ve always said that the moment that I’m not willing to learn is the moment that I should stop. The teams that I coach are constantly changing. The players change, there could be new players or the existing ones get better or get worse. The competition changes too, as does the game of basketball itself. With all of these changes a coach needs to constantly adapt and make adjustments. These adaptations and adjustments happen through learning and so I try to learn from the best. I’ll watch who I feel are the best basketball coaches’ games on TV and whatever instructional DVD’s they produce. I’ll do my best to absorb as much as possible from these successful coaches and apply what I learn to my teams. This is absolutely necessary if my teams are to continue to be successful!

Management in any business needs to be constantly learning as well, and things change much more rapidly and frequently in business than they do in basketball. Strategies and technology will not sit and wait for you to catch up; they will both continue to move on with or without you. Take social media for example, it’s sad to hear people still ask what Facebook is, or how Google+ works, misspeak and refer to Twitter as “Tweeter”, confuse the difference between a blog and a forum, and even say that “maybe social media is going away”. My feeling is that even if you personally don’t like social media you must understand what it is and be familiar with it.

At the end of the day, if managers are the decision makers of the business, they need to familiar and up to date with current technologies and strategies. Being surrounded by knowledgeable and capable employees is a good thing, being unfamiliar with current technologies and strategies that those capable employees are recommending is not a good thing. Constantly doing things the way they were done in the past because they refuse to learn anything new does not bode well for the future of the business.

Always be willing to learn, it’s the best way to give yourself the ability to make adjustments for the future.

What are your thoughts on management keeping up with current trends, strategies, and technology? Do you feel that it’s their responsibility to the business to be familiar with these things?

4 thoughts on “Lessons From Sports – Always Be Willing To Learn

  1. Great description of what it means to coach. I just wonder if the analogy completely works when answering your question about management keeping up on trends, etc.

    The obvious answer is “yes.” The more difficult question is in the investigation of what it is that keeps businesses behind the curve. For some businesses, they fall behind an it’s perilous. For some businesses, they fall behind and it’s embarrassing but they keep trudging forward.

    Some businesses don’t have the resources. A 2-person operation with a specialty in freshwater aquariums may not have the wherewithal to blog weekly and understand what the heck Pinterest is.

    I completely agree with you that the hypothetical aquarium duo shouldn’t dismiss what they don’t understand. They should at least do enough inquiry to determine if a certain technology would be good for them, and do the cost-benefit analysis of bringing it onboard.

    1. Thanks for the comment Oz! Your feedback is definitely appreciated. I find that in my experience, the people asking those questions and making those statements did so because they weren’t interested at all. They just liked everything to be status quo. I could have been more specific in the analogy though, so point taken and appreciated!

  2. Understood! And it’s definitely a big concern. The ol’ head-in-the-sand strategy is a scary one, and harmful. I’ve had mentors who were resistant to change, and keeping up to date. Imagine the resentment AFTER THE FACT, learning that a trusted person passed along their dated ways of doing things. Imagine “taking the next step” and not being ready for it.

    This is an area where I think a coach does need to be on top of things. They need to be able to at least address what’s going on out in the world. A good coach also knows their limitations. This goes for sports coaches, business coaches, music instructors, weight-loss mentors, etc.

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