How the Most Important Lessons in Football Apply to Running Your Business

How the Most Important Lessons in Football Apply to Running Your Business
Image credit: Courtesy of Terrence Holt

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This column is one of a series formed from a partnership between Entrepreneur and NFL Players Inc. Click here to see the other columns.

How does football prepare you for running a construction firm? When my brother,Torry, and I started a construction firm in 2007 we found that the lessons are similar. Simply put, a successful business needs teamwork, focus and determination, the same skills needed to succeed on the football field.


When I speak on this topic, I start my presentation by showing a photo of me jumping up and blocking a field goal during an North Carolina State game against rival University of North Carolina. It’s not to boast. What I point out is what you don’t see in the photo. My teammates carved out the lane for me and everyone carried out their assignments exactly as planned. As a result, the play worked. Just like in the business world, you can’t do it alone. It’s all about the team you surround yourself with and everyone playing their role with enthusiasm.

Related: Why Teamwork Should Be Your No. 1 Sales Tool


On the football field, there’s a bit of showmanship and intimidation. But there’s also focus. You have to block out everything else. People are coming at you. But you have a stated course that you’re following, and your role is to execute and finish the play. The same is true when you’re running a company. You have to stay focused on your mission. As opportunities come your way, you have to determine whether they make sense to pursue or whether it would take your eye off the ball.


On this topic, I go back to a clip of one of my college games at NC State against Indiana, a Big 10 Team that we needed to beat. We’re down five points and Phillip Rivers throws a touchdown pass to Koren Robinson. We go up three points with 54 seconds left in the game after a successful two-point conversation. Indiana marches down the field and sets up to kick a 35-yard field goal. We have a plan. I jump up and block the field goal to win the game. But here’s what you hear the announcer say: “Terrence Holt redeems himself after being burned on a touchdown play…” So here’s my point, I could have been deflated by giving up an earlier TD, but instead I stayed determined to help my team.

Related: Richard Branson on Entrepreneurial Determination

The lesson is that in any business, things won’t always go your way. But if you’re determined, if you stay focused on your mission, if you surround yourself with top-notch people, you can win the big game.

Related: Persevere, Laugh at the Absurd and Let Nothing Get on Your Nerves

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