Business Lessons I've Learned From Being A Track Coach
For 25+ years I have been a funeral home owner, having had the opportunity to expand into four provinces and work with a wide range of employees and partners. Over the past 10 years I have also been a track & field coach helping athletes from middle school through to university pursue their athletic goals in running.
So with each year, I realize how much coaching has reinforced or taught me about the business of leading people in the workplace. After thousands of hours of coaching and hopefully many more to come, it comes as a pleasant surprise how much my management style is also impacted by my sport life. The pursuit of individual or team performance at work or at the track is a science and an art, so for me a couple important things stand out….
Take a long-term focus on the goals…
Athletes strive for success over the long haul. Coach and athlete need patience and discipline. Their goals may be big or small, ranging from personal bests to provincial teams to Olympic glory. One thing is consistent in that the athletes who excel take a long-term view of their goals. They look for incremental improvements over time. They invest in the process of training and committing to the work. The best companies do the same, focusing on the long term vs. the short term gain. They invest every day. With big successes, we often see the result, medal. or in business, the great product or quarterly profit, without really appreciating the effort, patience and discipline it took to make it happen. Investing over the long term is the only way.
Mistakes along the way build toughness and character…
Mistakes happen in sport and business. In coaching, we always want to embrace those mistakes. They could be in training or competition but if we don’t learn from them they have no value. Mistakes help build the foundation of a successful athlete. They teach them what works and what does not. What is definitely apparent in sport is that those who can weather the mistakes and tough times build character and mental strength. It makes them better athletes and people. Supporting our work teams through their mistakes does the same, resulting in a strong staff and more successful business. Mistakes are not fun but embrace them to learn and get better.
Our volunteer commitments, in my own case as a coach, can have a big impact on our work life, being one of the most valuable professional development tools available to us. More to come!