Don Elgin

The Key traits of Successful People

5 Key traits of successful people in sport and business

Have you ever wondered why so many successful sports people make the transition into business?

Well it turns out the fundamental traits of succesful people are the same whether it’s in business or being a great athlete. 

5 Key Traits of Successful People

I believe the top 5 reasons sports people make the transition into business better than most are:

  • They have discipline, they know regardless how they are feeling any given day they still need to show up and do what is required every day, and they do. Knowing it alone is not enough.
  • They are clear on their purpose and have some skin in the game, they know without them playing their part the team is being disadvantaged and is not likely to reach the goal.
  • They work well with others, they may not like everyone in their team but know for the team to work well they must work well as a team, they understand the importance of strong professional relationships.
  • They have agreed behaviours and stick to them, these are the team rules, regardless of how long a player has been in the team they know by being in the team they are agreeing to these behaviours.
  • The culture of the team is a direct reflection of the buy in of all members of the team, so done poorly there is a poor culture and high turnover, done well and it’s a great culture that attracts great people into the team.

After traveling the world for the best part of twenty years as an elite athlete and later as a team manager, it was obvious to see that just playing sport doesn’t give you a golden ticket to success. There are many examples of sports people falling well short of being successful in business.

To suggest if you don’t have a sporting background you can’t be a success in business is just rubbish.

I am however willing to say the value in lived experience and understanding of your culture, your purpose, your agreed behaviours and the time spent building relationships is what it takes for good organisations to take the step to great organisations.

Many of these things are practiced in a high performing sporting environment.

Nathan Burke

Many years ago I first met Nathan Burke when we both played in a Celebrity Basketball match and were part of the half time entertainment for a NBL game. A few years on I also had the privilege of working with Nathan when he facilitated a session for the business I was working for.

During the session, I was glued to his every word, his insights into teamwork and great communication were profound. As an athlete at the time it made perfect sense for our team to work better and the importance of being open to new ways of doing things. Any given team is only ever as good as their weakest link and this doesn’t only apply to sporting teams, if communication poor, motivation missing or morale low the team is not going to reach its potential.

There is also the reality of practical things that a team needs like a financial support, the skills and equipment etc. and this list could have been as long as we wanted to make it.

The focus on this day was to explore the thinking that is required to create a better functioning team who could achieve the best outcomes.

Athletes are always looking for the opportunity to get ahead of their competitors and the great organisations are no different as they continue to push the boundaries of innovation and best practice to get ahead of the market.

Many years later the shoe was on the other foot and I was delivering a session that Nathan was attending and we recounted our earlier meetings and the appreciation for each other’s work. It’s humbling when someone you admire gives you credit for doing a great job.

Nathan is certainly a great example of someone using their skills as a professional athlete and applying those attributes to the business world with Nathan running his own successful consulting and training business as well as continuing his media work and as senior coach of the Western Bulldogs AFLW team. 

Nathan Burke in business
Nathan Burke has transitioned from being an elite sportsman to a successful businessman running his own consulting and training business.

Our country is full of elite and former elite sportspeople and as sporting clubs and institutes continue to develop young people into more than just good sports people, but good citizens, the list is only going to grow.

As athletes progress through their careers they have often amassed an abundance of skills like media training, strong work ethic, understanding the impacts of social media, healthy eating and other beneficial healthy lifestyle choices, in addition to the sound values and principals they live by.

In my life as a Motivational Speaker and Emcee, I get to speak with and interview many people, and time after time athletes stand out as the type of person I’d like to have in my business.

If you are looking to develop the strength of your organisation I’d be sure to ask the candidates to tell you about their sporting background.

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