Learning Matters: What Sport can teach us

I have always been a lover of sport both as a participant and as an observer. For many like me sport is a passion and one that plays a big part in our lives. I have had the privilege of playing in and watching some amazing teams, both amateur and professional. Last weekend was the pinnacle of many sporting leagues across Europe, when months and years of work and effort came down to 80 or 90 minutes that, for many supporters, would define success or failure.

While following these final days of a 10-month sporting season I began to reflect on what sport has taught me over the years and what characteristics define sporting excellence. There are too many to cover in one blog but below are a few thoughts and reflections.

“There is no such thing as failure – only feedback!” This is a phrase that has stuck with me throughout my life and I have used in many coaching situations and leadership sessions. Possessing a growth mindset is critical to success; both on the sporting field and off it. The ability to reflect and learn from setbacks, rather than beat yourself up as a ‘failure’ is essential to growth and success.

Teams are exactly that. While they may possess some individuals who excel, successful teams are greater than the sum of their parts. There are often the unsung heroes who don’t get the headlines, but without who the success would not be achieved. In sport, life and business, as leaders and coaches, we must ensure we recognise all elements of the team and ensure that they are celebrated and appreciated appropriately.

Finally teams achieve together. Individual success for a true team player does not come close to replicating the joy and exultation that comes from being part of a team success. They care not about a player of the match award or being top scorer in a season, if the team does not achieve their collective goal. While recognition for individual contribution is clearly important, teams that that encourage a mindset that recognises the sacrifices, effort and tireless work of all that have contributed to their success are the ones who succeed.

Enough of my thoughts for now. Would love to hear your personal reflections on this subject.