Playing in the NFL was one of the greatest accomplishments of my life. I won’t lie. It was pretty darn cool to wear a jersey that represented not only a team but also an entire city of a devoted fanbase. But it was so much more than that. Beyond the glory that came with playing in the NFL, it was one of the greatest accomplishments of my life because it taught me how to define and achieve success. While I played in the NFL––as I trained for each game––I was also training for the business world. I was establishing habits and training myself to apply the rules of the game to the rules of life. These are the 4 things the NFL taught me about the business world.
Be a team player before anything else
We’ve all heard in life that “teamwork makes the dream work,” and these words rang truer each day during my time in the NFL. Through long days, hard practices, and big wins, I learned that fundamentally I am part of a team before I am anything else. My definition of success came to rely heavily on not only how I performed individually, but also how I performed to improve my team. I learned quickly that you can’t win a game on your own because the number on the back of your jersey doesn’t mean a thing unless there are other numbers on the exact same jersey on the field right there with you.
So when it was time for me to take my football skills and apply them to the business world, I carried that same team-oriented mentality with me. While there are highly determined and independent business superstars out there, no one can run an entire business on his or her own because success is not possible without the support and the guidance of others. When it comes to business, I worked with the mindset that my accomplishments and successes were a direct result of the determination to get things done as a team. Kimberly and I each played a fundamental role in building our business so we could reach success together because it truly does take teamwork to make the dream work.
Do your pregame work
If there’s anything to learn from playing on a competitive team, it’s to always show up prepared to perform your best. Whether it’s putting in the extra reps at the gym, spending hours watching game film or showing up to practice early and staying late, I made sure I was ready to play my best every single day. Essentially, the NFL taught me that I had to wake up every morning ready to show up on the field. Each day was a new test, a new challenge, and a new chance to prove myself on the field.
I quickly learned that the business world is no different. In order to achieve success, you have to face each day ready to get to work––no excuses. I faced each day mentally prepared to put in the work to do whatever it takes to get Kimberly and I one step closer to our goals. And that mentality right there is what gave me an edge on the playing field and in the business world.
Maintain a coachable attitude
If you find yourself surrounded by talent, consider yourself one of the lucky ones. I learned early on in my football career to never take learning from others for granted. I learned from my teammates, my opponents, and my coaches. I was surrounded by insane talent on a daily basis and would have been crazy if I didn’t show up ready to learn from them. And I became a better player because of it.
So why should this mentality be any different in the business world? When it comes to business, I embraced mentorship at any point I was presented the opportunity. I learned from experts and gained invaluable insight from others to help me reach my goals. And in doing so, like I played better on the field, I performed better in the business world with the help and guidance from mentors and coaches.
Earn respect from others
I learned from my experience on the field that the best thing a player can be is a player of integrity, which goes beyond the results of sheer talent. I gained respect from my teammates and my coaches because of the dedication I brought to the field, my willingness to be held accountable, and my personal decision to devote myself to the efforts of my team day in and day out––even when I was injured.
The business world is much the same. The most important thing a business man or woman can be is one of integrity––one that has earned respect in his or her field. Playing in the NFL taught me that no matter what your current hardship is at the moment, push through it. Hold yourself accountable for your shortcomings and do whatever it takes to get yourself back to producing your best work. The NFL taught me to make sure people know they can count on me. It showed me how to earn respect from others by always holding myself to high standards and conducting myself with integrity no matter what happens.
The business world isn’t all that different from the football field after all.