My business coach recently challenged me to watch some basketball and see what business metaphors I could find.
I was not completely looking forward to this because, truth be told, I played basketball in High School. I was Point Guard, and used to make 3-point shots from the top of the key, until some men someplace decided that the standard basketball was too heavy and big for girls to dribble and shoot, and then they made us use a smaller, lighter, ball. I was really angry about this because it threw my whole game off. I couldn’t even make a lay-up. When I tried a 3-point shot, I minus will have been a canon firing a bomb because that ball went clear across the gym. So, after years of bitterness, I had to now watch the game, and apply it to my business?
It turns out that once I got out of my own way, there were a whole bunch of important lessons I got from watching one game of basketball. So, without further bitching and moaning, I will share them with you here:
- Goal and strategy are in alignment. The team has a common goal to score points, and every action they take is about aligning with that single goal. In business, the more focused we are, and the more we align our activities with our main goal, the more success we are likely to have, and this means that you can be generating more money for your business.
- Cheerleaders are pretty and nice to have. While you are out there playing the game, you want your team to feel cheered on and supported. To help you continusously succeed, you need your own cheerleaders. That can be a coach, that can be a mastermind group, but you must have that person or group of people cheering you on to make it through the rough spots, and to celebrate your successes.
- Announcers give tips on gaps in strategy that a player or a team might consider – so they can play into their strengths and weaknesses. (Sometimes, though, they just state the obvious and are kind of annoying.) In business, it’s always good to have a coach that can help you when your strategy didn’t work, or to point out your blind spots. Sometimes, it may feel like they are telling you what you already know, but if you really knew it, you would have shifted it on your own. Make sure you have a mentor to help you see what you can’t, and help you shift your strategy when the one you’re using isn’t working.
- Referees miss some traveling and fouls. When you’re watching your business, pay attention. Hotels sometimes overcharge you, bills sometimes get missed – you gotta keep your head in the game.
- It’s hard to pick a side when your college team isn’t playing. Emotion drives excitement, cheering, and motivation to watch. In business emotion is a key driver to motivation, decisions and success.
- If you miss a shot or the other team steals the ball, you don’t give up. Sometimes in business you fail. Other times your competition seems to get all your potential business. If you’re going to score, you can’t give up until you do.
- The game isn’t over until you have a clear win or a clear loss. The closer you get to either the more commercial breaks there are, making that last mile the most suspenseful. In business, when a prospect nears the finish line, that’s when obstacles suddenly appear, making the final break really nervwracking. You gotta be in it to win it
- Know your numbers. The announcers in basketball constantly point out each players shooting average in percentages. This is what they use to decide what a player should focus on. In your business, know where you have the strongest numbers, and work hardest there. Delegate the areas where you are weakest.
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