What Can Football Teach About Business Success?

by Dianna Brodine, Plastics Business

The college football season has one game remaining, and the professionals are narrowing the field on approach to the Super Bowl. Teams don’t make it to the pinnacle games without a significant investment in personnel, equipment and training. And, when an investment is made, results are expected.

With expectations so high, what are the pathways to success? And, how do the lessons taught on a football field apply to those of us in the business world?

  • Practice the fundamentals. In football, practice sessions are devoted to cut routes, snap counts and kick-off coverage. In business, the fundamentals translate to a deep understanding of the industry in which you work, the role you play within the company and the needs of the end customer you serve. Review your clients’ websites to see what is new. Check industry publications to keep up-to-date. Read related books or take courses to keep your industry knowledge fresh.
  • Put in the work. Three hours on a Saturday afternoon aren’t enough to build a successful program. Instead, success on the football field is built on the sweat expended in the weight room and the hours studying film. Are you fully present during your work hours? Are you “all in” when the team needs your assistance to pull off a project? Are you willing to do whatever is necessary to get the product delivered on time?
  • Understand the end goal. The head coach’s job is to ensure every player on the field understands the playbook that – with skilled execution and a little luck – will lead to a winning score at the end of the game. Likewise, it’s up to the head of the company to clearly articulate what victory looks like in your business. Talk to company management to be sure you have a vision of where the company needs to go and how you can help it get there.
  • Enjoy the journey. The roar of the crowd on a Saturday afternoon only happens a few times each season. If a player is living for those moments without enjoying the days and weeks spent off the field, they’re missing out. Likewise, if the annual performance review (and potential salary bump) or new signed customer contract is the only reason you’re showing up every day, you may need to reevaluate your career. Enjoy the smaller victories, such as shipments that go out ahead of schedule or employee anniversaries that indicate an overall level of job satisfaction at your facility.

Only one team each year is crowned as champion at the Super Bowl or the newly minted College Football Playoff National Championship. The 200+ players on each of the other NFL or FBS teams will come back the next season with a new determination to succeed. What will you learn from them?