A successful content marketing writer possesses drive and passion. These qualities are vital in weaving compelling copy for your unique marketing campaign. But, over the last year, a potential source or sign of having what it takes to curate excellent copy popped to my attention, one that may further promise victory.
I have come to see a strong relationship between the achievements of business leaders and their athletic pursuits, past and present. In fact, some effective leaders rose from Olympic or professional athletic fame. Others pursued fitness or athletic accomplishment outside the limelight. And, high school, collegiate and adult sport pursuits came into play.
But, as the physical victories or athletic side hustles of high-achieving business leaders came to my attention, the concept amazed me. How do these business leaders redeem their overscheduled time to find success in both physical and business pursuits?
Are these men and women anomalies who have success written directly in their DNA? Or, is there something in this connection that we can each learn from? After all, doesn’t this dual-focus steal precious hours from achieving their business goals? And, what if you are not a gifted athlete? Are you doomed to lackluster leadership?
Thought and consideration of these questions return to my mind periodically. As I hear leaders speak stories sprinkled with athletic experience, I wonder. As friends succeed in physical endeavors and life accomplishments, I am further intrigued.
I come to this conclusion: Athletic pursuits magnify the business efforts of those who pursue both. And, if you and I allow the wisdom and inspiration of these sports enthusiasts to impact our lives, we too find success. Yes, our work and play benefit from getting active.
Personally, these principles build us into stronger writers and leaders as well. And, what’s more, inquiring about such interests when hiring a CEO, manager or content marketing writer just may land us a victory.
See what you think…
When We Are Young
The stereotype of the dumb jock survives the ages. And, while many of us likely know a quite bright football, basketball or lacrosse player, the jokes continue and give us a good laugh. But, the business world lays out a different profile for those with athletic pasts. The scholar-athlete is a reality.
Revenge of the Jocks?
In a study conducted by Kevin Kniffin and Brian Wansink of Cornell’s Dyson School of Applied Economics and Management, sports develop favorable traits in teens. Athletically inclined students developed stronger leadership and teamwork skills, and greater confidence than their sport-less counterparts.
This may be no surprise to you. When we think about it, this just makes sense.
But, these traits also translated into favorable adult perceptions of these teens as well. In other words, those working to win one for the team were viewed as possessing significantly greater leadership, self-respect and self-confidence than those not involved in sports, according to Kniffin.
And, these impressions remain with athletes long after their glory days. In fact, even 50 years post graduation, high school athletes maintain a consistent profile of greater leadership, self-respect and self-confidence in the eyes of others.
Kniffen sums it up this way: “People who played sports in high school–I wouldn’t say they have the last laugh, but you get my picture..”
Link to Actual Success
But, is there an actual link to success? Is this a case of perception minus reality? Are these facts merely conjecture? Do athletes succeed or just give the impression they can do so?
Elizabeth Covay Minor at the Michigan Consortium for Educational Research at Michigan State University, believes these findings reinforce her experience. In her work, Elizabeth finds the skills learned in extracurricular activities mimic those of the work world. And, she claims that competitive youth sports raise successful professional persons over the long haul.
Francis J. Yammarino at the State University of New York at Binghamton recognizes the limits of the work done by Kniffen and Wansink. However, he admits the results agree with earlier research on the positive link between sports and a teen’s post-high school future.
Kniffen and his colleagues prove careful not to stretch the assumptions too far. But, he finds that athletic benefits accrue well beyond high school. In the hiring process, regarding career path status and in their donation of time and money, athletes experience advantages.
But, there’s more.
Long Term Business Impact
While not all successful business leaders possess athletic experience, many do. And, the business world continues to take notice. As Kniffen reported, the athletically-minded excel during the hiring process and tend toward higher status career paths.
One concrete example comes through Ernst Young’s (EY) Women Athletes Business Network. This group matches 25 elite female athletes with prominent female business leaders to successfully transition them into leadership and career.
Why? EY research indicates that women develop significant leadership and team-building skills through sports participation. In fact, they go so far as to say that sports play a crucial role in honing these skills.
And, the data supports their purpose. According to the EY study, 94 percent of women executives played sports with over half participating at the collegiate level. Therefore, translating these needed skills to the business world, EY helps raise the low percentage of women in leadership positions.
So, how does this help you and me?
Learning By Example
If athletics populated your youth calendar, access those skills in your current career. The leadership, confidence and self-esteem gained bring positive traits to adulthood and your work. Strategically put them to good use.
If your teen years are far behind you and void of such sport experiences, do not lose heart. There are ways to learn from those tossing the pigskin or lacing up skates. (Plus, remember not all successful people were athletes. You are in good company.)
While cleats in the dirt or living the experience for oneself is typically the best teacher, learning from the example of others is possible as well. Likely, you have done it all your life. So, rather than feeling intimidated by, experiencing low self-worth around or avoiding successful athletes turned profitable business persons, let these role models inspire you.
Learning from Athletes
Learning from great athletes means watching how they think, prepare, work and live. In fact, according to the Forbes’ article, Greatness: The 16 Core Characteristics Business And Sports Champions Share, great leaders and sport champions possess similar qualities.
Check it out. Notice how many of these parallel skills apply to your work:
- Achieving goals and targets.
- Laying out long and short-term strategies.
- Handling success and overcoming setbacks.
- Realizing small margin victories (or defeats).
- Facing fierce competition.
- Performing to high levels continually.
- Attacking unrelenting demand and performance curves.
And, can you relate to the payoff of these learned traits?
- Hard work.
Sustained excellence in athletics and business (including content marketing writing) requires the development of mental toughness. And, on and off the playing field, these skills can be learned and honed.
Real Life Examples
Looking to men and women as role models proves a valuable means of mentoring. And, the Internet brings instant access and connection to a wide variety of athlete-business leader mentors. Let’s consider a few worthy of knowing.
Jim Collins is a leadership expert, consultant, author and lecturer. Founding a management laboratory in Colorado, Jim remains a student of leadership and what “makes great companies tick”. Putting his research to the test, he has served as a CNN International senior executive and worked with Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, the Girl Scouts of the USA and the United States Marine Corps, to name a few.
On top of this over-the-top resume, Jim is an avid rock climber. He successfully completed one-day ascents of the north face of the Half Dome. And, his internal drive sent him climbing the 3,000-foot south face of El Capitan in Yosemite.
Inspired to tackle that mountain?
Hewlett-Packard CEO, Meg Whitman also acts as the chairwoman of HP Inc. Previously, executive positions at The Walt Disney Company, DreamWorks, Hasbro and Procter & Gamble filled her resume. And, if that were not enough, she served as president and CEO of eBay with great credits to her name.
Named twentieth on Forbes 100 Most Powerful Women in 2014, Whitman participated in four high school sports and two at the collegiate level. Furthermore, she uses these skills today stating, “I liked team sports the best. When I’m pulling a business team together, I still use those basketball aphorisms I learned as a young person…”
Understand where her power originated?
Craig Groeschel founded and pastors Life.Church, named America’s Most Innovative Church and one of the top 50 churches in America. With over 100,000 people attending 25 campuses weekly, today’s Life.Church is a far cry from its humble beginnings in Craig’s garage in 1996. Add to this resume his creation of YouVersion Bible, numerous books authored and the role as Director of Gulfport Energy Corp., and one wonders how to keep up.
Tennis was the name of Craig’s game. A collegiate tennis scholarship helped finance his university education. Today, he makes a more-than-frequent appearance at the gym to maintain fitness. One look at his photo reveals the extent of his passion in this area of life. It seems healthy eating and avid fitness pursuits train Craig for the business world as well.
Ready to sign up at the gym?
For inspiration, Google search a business leader in your industry and their athletic accomplishments. Or, find one participating in the sport linked to your passion. I grant you freedom to think outside the box as well. Surfing, motocross, snowboarding and more reveal role models outside the traditional sports arena.
Inspired to Athletic Endeavors
Stories inspire. And, lessons pulled from them strengthen skills. But, what if you took this idea a step further? What if you acted on this inspiration?
Dust off that high school basketball and shoot a few hoops. Dig in the back of the closet for those college running shoes and jog a few laps. Shop for a new swimsuit (likely the old one will not work well) and go beyond treading water. Whatever it takes, set a goal and get back in the swim of things.
If athletics were the furthest thing from your schedule back in the day, pick a direction and run with it. You are never too late to adopt a hobby. Why not make it a physical one? Your body and your business thank you already. (Side note: Outdoor activity brings added benefits of being in nature.)
Exercise alone benefits your work. But, setting physical goals and seeing them through to victory reaps business rewards. Imagine the new perspective to be gained. And, if you think there is simply not enough time, look to the stories of Jim, Meg, Craig and more for a jump start.
Snagging a Successful Content Marketing Writer
While not all business successes pursue physical challenges, the potential benefits are worth a look. The idea seems counterintuitive. But, spending focused time working toward athletic goals increases your efficiency with business objectives.
Furthermore, you may consider looking into the interests and hobbies of those working for you at high levels, including your content creators. Teamwork, leadership, determination and perseverance along with endurance in attacking unrelenting demands means profits for you.
However, be warned that I am not suggesting that you hire a football player over a more qualified candidate simply because he spent Friday nights on the gridiron. Qualifications still matter. Just keep in mind, writers with a breadth of experience, including athletic victories, may spin out stronger content.
So, what do you think? Tomorrow is a new day. Why not make it an active one? I know I am inspired to return to my active athletic roots. Will you join me?
And, if you are looking for a content marketing writer with mad skills (athletic or not), give us a yell today for a free consultation.
P.S. Did you participate in sports at a high school or collegiatelevels? What physical goals do you pursue today? Leave a comment below.