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15 Work Ethic Lessons We Can Learn From Professional Athletes

When you watch that next game, you can actually learn a lot of great insights that you can apply to your own life…

In order to reach the echelons of a professional athlete, you have to have enormous drive, grit and determination. Grit, drive and determination are critical work ethic lessons that most us can apply in our own life.

Here are 15 short lessons I learned from prominent sports stars.

I hope you find some of these nuggets useful!

Dream Big

Dream Big. To make it to the top, you have to set the bar high. While it’s taken me decades to make it to where I am today, none of it would have been possible if I hadn’t pursued my dreams. When I was in college my marketing professor asked us to create a brand that people would want to buy. I came back to class with Shaq shoes, socks, a Shaq shirt, everything. My professor gave me an F because at the time, he couldn’t see my vision. If I’d listened to him, who knows where I’d be today. — Shaquille O’Neal

You have to take care of yourself

Football is a year-round thing. It’s not something you can do once in a while. You can’t not work out, not eat right. You have to take care of your body because your body is what allows you to play football. You have to take care of yourself by working out, eating right and being in shape. — Gary Barnidge

Always compete like it’s your last

Always compete like it’s your last: When you compete like it’s your last, it turns on something inside of you. It brings out your inner monster. It’s almost like life or death. Like you have to go out there and make a point. If you go into a competition thinking “oh, I have many other races to run. Many chances to win.” you will never completely give this one race your true all. — Justin Gatlin

it’s not going to always be glitters and gold

I wish someone told me that it wasn’t going to always be glitters and gold. I have personally ran into a bunch of obstacles along my journey dealing with my size but I never gave up. I continued to train harder because I was determined to show the coaches that I am good enough to play no matter my size. Though I have found success in the NFL I am still fighting for a secure place in this league because I am still criticised and doubted for being 5’9 175 pounds. — Rashard Markese Davis

If you are the smartest person in the room then you are in the wrong room

If you are the smartest person in the room then you are in the wrong room. Spend time getting to know you team or co workers strengths and weaknesses and surrounding yourself with people who’s strengths make up for your weaknesses. — Ashley Busch

Someone is outworking you

“Someone is outworking you” is a quote my baseball coach said in high school that sort of stuck with me. During my summers when I would wake up at 4:30 in the morning to get to the gym, and then to my finance internship by 6:30, and then out on the turf by 5:30 in the evening, then home, cook dinner and go to bed just to wake up and do it all over again, it can be really easy to let yourself sleep in, or let yourself off the hook by telling yourself you’re working really hard and that you deserve a little bit of slack. I wrote that quote down on an index card and taped it right above the doorknob of my apartment. Every morning at 4:30, when I was leaving for the gym, I would read it and say to myself “not today!” — Jaeden Graham

Take advantage of your “me” time

Take advantage of your me time. My position requires me to do a lot of networking and staying in constant communication with my people. My mental energy gets drained fast so I need time to myself to relax and recharge my battery for more interaction. — Walter Powell

Trust the Process

Trust the Process. Sometimes we aren’t quite ready for a task even though we might think we are. After my first couple of books came out. I felt like I was ready to do it on a larger-scale, long before I really was. Whenever I created and released a project (book, film, video etc.), in the back of my mind I would be thinking, “Is this going to be my big break?” Looking back, it’s quite embarrassing, but it took a lot of faith and trusting the process to keep moving forward. I was really working hard and investing all of my time, heart and personal finances into my projects. Looking back, I needed to go through all that I did to solidify my foundation and continue to grow. — G. Brian Benson

Don’t be happy with the lowest rungs of success

Do not care what others think- so many people actually fear success that when you go for it you scare the crap out of them. Add to that, many people are actually happy with the lowest rungs of success. In the NFL I thought everyone wanted to win a championship. The truth is many players did not. Many loved what it meant to play even a down and that was all for them. Every year in training camp I could tell you the rookies that were not going to make it and blame someone else- all the while they knew the work it would take to be successful and they wanted nothing to do with it. Over 1600 players will suit up in a given year and only 53 will call themselves champions. — Ryan Harris

Things do not fall into place right away just because you are famous

I wish someone would have told me that things do not fall into place right away just because you are famous. I learned that being famous almost seemed to have a negative impact regarding certain areas of running a business. — Vernon Davis

Rome wasn’t built in a day

Rome wasn’t built in a day. Whether it’s a single workout or a soccer season, it’s an important thing to remember. When I was younger I easily got down on myself for not accomplishing certain things quickly. I wish it was told more to me that it’s a journey that you should be looking forward and not focus on individual battles because everything sets you up for growth. Whether you achieve it or fail. — CJ Sapong

Break Habits

I’m a believer of breaking habits, I would like all of the people on this planet to embrace who they are and their talents. Instead of following what others want us to be. Can you imagine how different the world would be if every single person would embrace her/his talents and do what makes her/him happy? — Anna Bogomazova

Focus on what’s best for you and not on everyone else

Focus on what’s best for you and not on everyone else because everyone else doesn’t understand your process and will try to steer you the wrong way based off their own hidden agendas. — Jordan Campbell

You need to know the rules and learn about all aspects of the game

“If you’re going to make the choice to be the broadcaster in any sport you’re working, you need to know the rules and learn about all aspects of the game. No matter how complex the rule book, fans expect you to know the rules. You can’t really learn about offense or defense and special teams. You have to learn the rules and how the rules are administered.” — Mike Pereira

I believe this is true in general as well. If you want to be a master of your craft, you have to master the rules.

Work out your profit margins in advance

Work out your profit margins in advance so you know exactly what percentages you’re working with. For me it’s important so that I know exactly what I’m able to offer charities, discounts, and wholesale and still be profitable. — Eve Dawes

This is of course true of business in general. Make sure to carefully watch your numbers and don’t make assumptions.

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