Sports are a Great Metaphor
It’s no secret that my life has always revolved around athletics. From my early days playing pop warner football, through my college years of lacrosse and on into the various community leagues since, being part of a team has always been where I feel most comfortable. What I enjoy most about being part of a team is not just the camaraderie, the spirit of competition, or even winning. What I love most about team sports is working together with your brothers in arms to fight, claw, sweat and grind to the bitter end. Victory or loss aside, knowing that you all gave it everything you had gives you a sense of pride and an unbreakable bond.
Vince Lombardi, one of the great coaches of our time once said:
“Winning is not a sometime thing; it’s an all the time thing. You don’t win once in a while; you don’t do things right once in a while; you do them right all of the time. Winning is a habit. Unfortunately, so is losing.”
Sports are the ultimate metaphor for life. Running a small business is no different than coaching a team. The two biggest differences are that there is no off-season and there is no time limit. However, just like in sport, a small business must always be prepared to face adversity and learn to overcome and persevere. Sports, like life, teach us all the time what it takes to get back up, continue to fight the good fight and to never quit. We all bared witness to what our beloved Red Sox did last season after one of the most monumental collapses in all of sports just two years prior. They overcame tremendous adversity and won the World Series in 2013, going from worst to first.
Over the past few weeks of watching the World Cup, we have also witnessed what it takes to fight back from adversity. We saw the US Soccer team place itself in a precarious position against a determined Portugal team just five minutes into the match. Instead of pointing fingers at who was to blame, the team rallied behind one another and fought hard to climb back into the match to tie and to eventually take the lead with a go ahead goal from Clint Dempsey. Alas, perseverance is not exclusive to Americans, it is a human characteristic. Portugal could have hung their heads and given up with just 9 minutes left in regulation, but instead, they continued to scoring the tying goal with just 30 seconds left, resulting in a 2-2 draw.
Like the dramatic ups and downs of the US World Cup match, my business has seen its ebbs and flows over the past 15 years. From starting out as a sole proprietor to having grown into two prime locations, and then back to one The Boston Bodyworker has had its share of ups and downs. At its best, The Boston Bodyworker has been my pride and joy echoed by the testimonials of happy patients and long tenured therapists. At its worst, I’ve dealt with unscrupulous people who have threatened, sued and slandered me as well as wrestled with a volatile economy that nearly wiped me out.
There were many times I ask myself why I continue to fight back. Should I just throw my hands up and just walk away? The answer was always very simple to me; I believe in my vision and I’m confident that it fills a need. On top of that, I also have a responsibility to my staff (teammates) to lead them to continued success.
Like in sports, we depend upon each other to do the job that we are given. If everyone is willing to give 110%, than you have a great chance of winning. I have learned over the years that both accountability and perseverance go a long way in motivating and lifting your team’s performance. We don’t have to be on the plus side every day; no one wins everyday (unless of course you are Charlie Sheen).
Sometimes it is considered a victory in the world of a small business to live to fight another day. Sometimes that’s as good as it may get. It is at those times that I reflect back upon that infamous Lombardi speech that hangs over my desk that states;
“I firmly believe that any man’s finest hour — his greatest fulfillment to all he holds dear — is that moment when he has worked his heart out in a good cause and lies exhausted on the field of battle – victorious.” – Coach Vincent T. Lombardi
While I never became a professional athlete, I know sports have helped me in my professional career. I love the team I “own,” the people that are a part of my team, and the way our team comes ready to work every day. For those of you who enjoyed the competition and companionship of sports as a kid like I did, I hope you have also found those some great qualities in your jobs. It’s a great feeling.
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