7 Lessons from Basketball for Slam-Dunk Success in Business
I've learned a lot from playing and coaching basketball and believe a lot of my business success has come from what I've learned on the court. Here are seven winning strategies I've brought to my business game.
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Basketball is a thrilling game that has been a big part of my family's life together. My father played and taught the game to me, and I taught it to my three sons. I played for my high school team, got a basketball scholarship in college and later coached the junior varsity team at my son's high school.
I've learned a lot from playing and coaching this great game, and I believe a lot of my business success has come from what I've learned on the court. So, here are seven winning strategies I've brought to my business game:
1. Show up early every day, and work harder than the other team
No team starts a game without hours and days of solid practice. They work on layups, passing and grueling workouts so everybody's ready when the referee tosses the ball for the opening tip-off. Missing a day can mean missing a shot in the game.
In business, successful teams see every task in the workday as an opportunity to hone their skills and rack up game-changing stats. As a result, victory often comes down to whoever has focused more and worked harder than the competition to drive home results.
Related: 7 Leadership Lessons You Can Learn From the Game of Basketball
2. Celebrate your wins
Many of us have seen the joy that fills the locker room of a team that just won the NBA Championship. But players mark the smaller wins and take a moment to celebrate every basket.
Celebration is integral to reaching a goal; it's not just a reward for accomplishment but provides closure so you are mentally prepared to start the next task. The celebration can be small, too. You don't have to dump a cooler full of Gatorade on your sales team when they hit a target; a few minutes of public recognition will do.
3. Admit when you make a mistake, and move on
Players don't stop in the middle of the game and blame their teammates if they make a mistake, like passing the ball straight into the other team's hands. Instead, they accept their mistake and keep going. On the court, when I was playing, we'd say, "My bad," and get back in the game.
No one expects business leaders to be perfect and never make a mistake. I believe employees are more comfortable when they see you're human, too. It is important to admit you made the error, figure out how to keep it from happening again and move on. And remember — you can always get it on the rebound.
4. Remember you're here for the team, not the other way around
Like every other team sport, basketball has its stars who stand out and lead the team to victory. But "team" is still the operative word. Not even Lebron James or Breanna Stewart win the game single-handedly; their teammates set the conditions allowing the star to shine.
For me, it's all about the team. I strive to be a servant leader, where nothing is above or below me doing it. When I support my team and set them up for success, that's exactly what I get from them.
Related: 5 Leadership Lessons on the Court, for Business off the Court
5. Build a strong company culture
Here in South Florida, the Miami Heat is our team. They're known for Heat culture: They work harder, promote toughness and play defense, which is not always done in the NBA.
I believe culture is one of the most critical factors in a company's success or failure. It helps employees and managers identify their mission and values, and it helps them fulfill the mission. But culture must grow and develop naturally from the team members' traits and personalities — it can't be forced. Getting the Heat to start playing more offensively probably won't work, and a casual company can't suddenly become formal and bureaucratic.
6. Watch and learn from the instant replay
Teams don't watch videos of the game for entertainment. They want to know — they need to know — what went right and what went wrong so they can perform better next time.
Like an NBA player or any other athlete, you must sit down after any business experience and review your performance. Write down everything you learned, pay attention to how your team executed your plan, and apply the lessons immediately. Having a post-meeting with the group involved is mandatory.
7. Believe in your success
Michael Jordan famously talks about all the shots he missed in his legendary career. I know he has never stood at the free-throw line or under the basket and told himself he was going to miss the shot. I feel safe saying no player who's made it even as far as the high school level would ever pick up the ball and expect to fail.
You must always believe the next shot is going in, just like the next call will bring an appointment, and the next meeting will yield a sale. These seven lessons learned from playing and coaching basketball create the perfect game plan for business success.
Related: 8 Quotes on Motivation, Hard Work and More from Basketball Legend Michael Jordan