7 Lessons Entrepreneurs Can Learn From Elite Athletes

This article comes from Entrepreneur.

7 Lessons Entrepreneurs Can Learn From Elite Athletes

By studying the habits and mindset of an elite athlete, we can gain important insights into how to translate athletic success into entrepreneurial endeavors. These 7 lessons from elite athletes will help you attain any objective you set your mind to.

1. Know exactly what you’re trying to achieve.

Entrepreneurs may find themselves setting grand and lofty goals. Or they may have some vague notion of what they’d like to accomplish someday. But many creative types have a hard time coming up with solid objectives — both in the long term and short term — and often have difficulty devising a plan of action for how they’ll achieve those goals.

Elite athletes, on the other hand, know that nothing is going to be handed to them without a lot of hard work. They may have their eyes locked on an ambitious goal in the future, but they’re also firmly rooted in what they need to be doing in the present. In order to sweep competitions and win championships, they know they must set smaller “process goals.” Doing this helps them build their fundamental skills, as well as their confidence and their mental capacity to compete at increasingly higher levels.

2. Don’t fear pressure.

Imagine standing on a field or in an arena and hearing the roar of a crowd, knowing that everything you have hoped and worked for comes down to your actions right here, right now. To become successful as an athlete, you must learn to perform to the absolute best of your ability, despite enormous odds and incredible stress and tension. Elite athletes don’t fear pressure, they thrive on it. Each moment in their sport is an opportunity to prove themselves, and they won’t allow themselves to back down or falter, no matter what the odds.

Similarly, entrepreneurs must learn to perform well under pressure, even in chaotic circumstances and uncertainty. An entrepreneur must maintain situational awareness and continue to make good decisions, even in the heat of a difficult moment.

The best way to handle pressure is to have confidence in yourself, no matter what the situation. It helps if you know you have done all you can to be prepared. When you’re feeling pressure and tension, take it as a cue that it’s time to focus and be ready to perform. Don’t panic, take a deep breath and charge forward. That’s what an athlete would do.

3. Have grit.

It’s easy to say that the best athletes are the ones who are faster, stronger and more flexible — the ones who have unique skills and talent. But there is something else that separates a good athlete from a great athlete — and it’s often just as important as raw ability and skill. It’s grit.

Angela Duckworth is an author and psychologist who studies what traits differentiate successful people and why. She has found that the most successful people have grit, which she defines as “self-discipline, combined with a passionate commitment to a task and a burning desire to see it through.”

If they want to be successful, entrepreneurs should cultivate grit. They must have resilience in the face of adversity, and the tenacity and determination necessary to reach their goals. They should maintain an optimistic attitude, but also be realistic and recognize areas they need to strengthen.

4. Be in the moment.

In the heat of fierce competition, an elite athlete’s mind is firmly rooted in the moment. They’re “in the zone,” meaning their attention is in the here and now. They’re only thinking about each step they must take to win and be successful.

Having their mental and physical capacities completely focused on the task at hand means they’re working as efficiently and effectively as possible. Nobody becomes a world-class athlete without learning to tap their full mental and physical potential, and maintain that focus under pressure.

Entrepreneurs must also learn how to be mindful and stay in the present. They will have their attention pulled in many directions as they juggle multiple deadlines and competing projects and issues. By staying in the moment, and staying focused on the task at hand, you’ll be more productive and will stay more engaged, allowing you to make the most of all those moments. This will add up to a major “win” for your business.

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