What entrepreneurs and elite athletes can learn from each other

Nicklas Pyrdol
Feb 11, 2017 · 4 min read

When people like Gary Vaynerchuk, Noah Kagan and Lewis Howes talk about adopting the mindset from elite athletes, it is because they have spent their years in the trenches and have seen and felt what it takes to become a successful entrepreneur. As a psychology consultant for both Olympic athletes and tech entrepreneurs I have come across some elements where the two types of high performers can learn from each other.

Entrepreneurs have a higher purpose than results

The most successful entrepreneurs I meet wants to see their business succeed and they enjoy getting the rewards from it, but it is not the core motivation. It is the purpose of changing the world for the better by challenging the way organizations and people think and act. Because they have this purpose, they can maintain their drive and focus in the tough times. Many athletes lack this sense of purpose and are only driven by results. That means, that when they face a period with bad results, they can’t see the meaning of keeping on practising and sacrificing an “ordinary” life.

Athletes can learn to have a higher purpose with their career than the results. Something that is beyond the medals! When they find that purpose, they find a stronger motivation than any medal.

Athletes know the importance of recovery

Early on in their career athletes learn, that in order for them to keep on pushing themselves everyday, they need to recover, both physically and mentally. That is why every elite sport organization have a strict recovery system controlled by psychologists and physical therapists.

There has been a dangerous culture in the entrepreneur world, where you had to work 19 hours a day without a break to call yourself an “entrepreneur”. But being an entrepreneur is not a sprint, it is a marathon and if you are not recharging the batteries once in a while, you end up burning out or making poor decisions.

Entrepreneurs can focus on recharging their physical and mental batteries, so they can keep on performing and focusing in the long run

Entrepreneurs have the courage to challenge the status quo

The big entrepreneurial success stories come from people who have had the courage to change the status quo. Creative minds who have a feeling, that the way things are done can be changed for the better. They dare getting the response that “That will never work” or “It cannot be improved”. To put yourself on the line like that requires courage and determination, but it is the only way to get the competitive edge.

Some legendary athletes have had the same courage. Dick Fosbury, who introduced the Fosbury flop and “Candy” Cummings, who invented the curveball are a couple of them. If the athletes of today have the courage to mix the old with the new and disrupt their sport, they can find a competitive edge.

Athletes can adopt the courage from the entrepreneurs and think on the edge of the box when trying to find a competitive edge

Athletes think as much about development as performance

Elite level athletes are constantly looking for a way to improve themselves. They know, that a hungry pack of competitors are just waiting to push them off the throne and that they have to keep focusing on how to BECOME better in order for them to MAINTAIN being the best. That is why they spent so much time getting feedback from coaches, teammates and experts. They know, that they have to be self-aware in order for them to know, when to activate the right strategies.

Entrepreneurs have a tendency to get caught up in developing the business, the product or the team, because that is their passion. But they sometime lose their focus on developing their own communications skills, work-life balance, emotional control and decision making. If entrepreneurs want to succeed, they have to realize, that it is them as human beings, who is going to be the key to success.

Entrepreneurs can adopt the focus on personal development from elite level athletes in order for them to enhance their strengths and beware of their weaknesses

Entrepreneurs and elite level athletes are to groups of top achievers, which the rest of society can learn from. But they can also look towards each other and find some inspiration.

Nicklas Pyrdol, M.Sc. in Sport Psychology. Nicklas works with top level athletes, business leaders from multi-million coorporations and entrepreneurs trying to change the world. For more information go to his LinkedIn profile: https://www.linkedin.com/in/nicklas-pyrdol/en

Nicklas Pyrdol

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Performance Psychology Consultant for organizations, business leaders, entrepeneurs and athletes.

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