I have always been intrigued by the motivation and engagement of a sports team – all players are totally motivated, working hard, helping each other and going the extra mile. They don’t question whether running the extra 50 metres is in their job description, they don’t leave the training ground the minute the session is over. I have always wondered why there is such commitment and engagement in sports teams, which you don’t see regularly in teams at work.
The main reason for this is the objective, or the ‘Wildly Important Goal’ – WIG. In a sports team it is clear, the WIG is to win. Nothing more, nothing less. There is no confusion about the interpretation of this goal, and there aren’t any other WIGs which could make the team lose focus. Everything which every person in a sports team does is focused on winning – how they eat, sleep, train. Winning in sports is also very clear, its simply about scoring more points than your opponents. There is nothing more to it.
Typically, businesses have too many WIGs (or none at all!), which are often difficult to understand or interpret. In many cases, different units or departments of a business have different goals, which do not all work towards the company’s WIG. Learning from sports teams that simplicity and focus are key towards success is crucial. Every business must have one big WIG, with smaller objectives which all feed to this WIG. The WIG must be clear, understandable, and with a clear timeline as to when it should be achieved.
Being mentally and physically fit is not just important for players in sports teams, it is just as important for individuals in businesses (not to mention their importance for life in general!) Individuals in business go through similar stresses as sportspersons do – the need to achieve results, the successes and failures, the struggles when they are not achieving their WIG. Being mentally and physically fit helps every individual deal with difficult situations, which are a certainty in business as they are in sports.
Mindset and confidence play another key role in achieving success, in both business and sports. Nothing can be achieved unless you are totally confident about the outcome. We have seen extremely fit sports persons buckle under pressure and fail, and we have also seen less fit individuals be successful – mindset is everything, in both sports and business.
There are a number of other similarities between these two – not so distant – worlds, and individuals in sports and businesses can continue to learn from one another because ultimately, business is a sport.
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