Sports inspire, fascinate, and drive the will of millions of people. This type of competition lends itself to emotion, passion and loyalty. I’d be willing to bet that a very large number of entrepreneurs and business leaders often use elite sports as a metaphor for business…as they should. There are endless ways that sports and business parallel each other; competition, tactics, discipline, determination, and imagination to name a few. Last night, like thousands of others, I sniffed and sobbed through the majority of the ESPY’s. Sports have always held a very special and prominent place in my life. I can’t help but be touched by stories of triumph, defeat, hope, and tenacity. I appreciate not just the awards, but who they were named after and the other organizations that make the ESPY’s a success.
So, how can last night’s ESPY’s help you run your business better, or make you a more valued member of the team? Here are points of interest from the ESPY’s and its winners that, if taken seriously and put to use, could take your company and/or business to the next level.
- World Cup Championship Team: Strong, passionate, and outspoken WOMEN. A team that didn’t care who got the credit as long as they were winning. This team did not start the tournament well. They struggled through pool play, relying heavily on their defense, but stayed confident and supportive of each other. Not one person was the star throughout the tournament. Different players used their skills to help ensure victory until the end. This is a great example of team work and how every player and position is equally important. The lesson here? Don’t be afraid of the women! We can be very tough and persistent aside from great leaders and teammates. Also, make sure to always let the team know how important and vital they are to the big picture. Regardless of their responsibilities or place on the team, it all makes a difference in the end.
- Devon/Leah Still: There have been a lot of articles and posts about maternity/paternity leave for new parents. Some companies are taking steps to ensure both Moms and Dads both have the opportunity to experience those first few weeks with their newborns. This is a big step – especially for executives and smaller start-ups! The Cincinnati Bengals showed that they truly value their players and their families. The organization made sure Devon kept his health insurance and gave him full control of his attendance and participation while dealing with his sick child. This is huge! If you give that type of support to your employees, they will give it back to you ten-fold. If their focus is not on the job, but on something else so personal and painful, why keep them ‘in the game’? Whether or not Devon Still goes to the Pro Bowl won’t matter, because the Bengals can be sure that he will give everything he has regardless.
- Caitlyn Jenner: There are so many directions to go with this one: Acceptance, bullying, and respect to name a few. Let’s stick with the latter, respect. Not everyone in your company is going to be a perfect ‘cultural fit’. People are different and will always have varying opinions and views on certain things. Most of these things have nothing to do with the business, products, or services you’re providing. They are social and they stem from your environment, your upbringing, and your individuality. You will meet people that don’t fit into your realm of comfort and familiarity. These differences could be based on religion, sexual orientation, geography, race, etc. Caitlyn spoke about respect, and how (specifically) transgender youth deserve it. In the context of her speech, she was right. In the grander scope of the world and cultural differences, everyone deserves respect. This doesn’t mean complete acceptance of differences, but an understanding that regardless of differences, peace is possible. This can be so important in the workplace! Not only will everyone feel safe (physically and psychologically), but mutual respect can help put the job first. Once respect is given and received, an opportunity for communication opens. This is a great way to educate each other on and about differences. A more educated team is a smarter team. Education can lead from respect to the next big step: acceptance.
There were many other great moments on the ESPY’s…I will never forget Lauren Hill’s story or the legacy of Stuart Scott. Sports give us the closest thing to real life Super Heroes we can get. They demand so much of their bodies and minds with the sole purpose of victory and success. Some disappoint us with decisions and actions, but a majority of them provide inspiration and examples that can be used every day. In closing I’d like to include one of the best speeches of all time – ESPY’s 1993, Jimmy Valvano.