When I had kids, I didn’t expect that watching them play sport would teach me much. This month, I should have spent eleventy billion hours watching my boys play basketball, cricket and tennis. But then a COVID-19 cluster shut down community sport for two weeks. It was great to have some bonus time before Christmas, but I was really looking forward to watching them.
I’m super proud of my boys playing so much sport, especially as I was completely rubbish at sport as a kid. I was that kid that would come up with ALL the excuses not to play. That’s not to say I didn’t give it a crack. I tried netball, gymnastics, swimming and physical culture but I was very uncoordinated.
Luckily, the boys have inherited my husband’s sporting ability. And like him, they’ve realised it’s a great way to make friends.
I’ve realised we can learn some valuable lessons watching our kids play sport.Anyway, what does all this have to do with business? Let me explain.
1. You need a team.
In most sports, you need a team. It’s rare that one person can do it all. The team has different players with different roles. Some in offence, some in defence. There are those players that will always start, and the support players who come off the bench. And good teams aren’t always those with a line-up of superstar players. The good teams are those that all work together. They’re the teams where people will pass to another player, even if they could score the goal.
Lesson: In business, you also need a team, which might include a copywriter like me.
My business has thrived because I’ve outsourced proofreading, website maintenance, bookkeeping set-up and tax. I’ve passed work on to other copywriters when they have been better suited, and I’ve worked as a subcontractor when other copywriters needed a hand.
Many of my clients could write their own copy. But it makes more sense to outsource it to me so they can focus on the work they do best.
I wouldn’t be where I am without the communities I’m part of. I feel like I’m part of an incredible team, even when these people are technically my competitors. We share work, experience and insights. And we work together to improve our industry by educating clients and setting prices that reflect the value of our work.
2. Listen to the coach.
My kids (at 10 and almost 12) often think they know it all. They’re great boys and they have a confidence I’d like to bottle. And sometimes they think they know it all.
But sport has taught them to listen to the coach. And not just because the coach has more experience.
They’re learning that the coach watching every kid in every training session can see where the strengths and weaknesses are in the team. They know when they’re on the court or the field or the pitch, it’s the coach that has eyes on the whole game.
Lesson: In business, ‘listening to the coach’, is about learning from more experienced people. It’s also about learning from those who have worked with more clients or businesses in different fields.
3. Practice is key.
The older the boys get, the more they have realised they need to practise. They’re up against kids who are often obsessed by that one sport, while they play many sports during the year. They’ve realised that turning up to training isn’t always enough.
The boys are learning that they need to put in the work at training and then come home and practise more.
It’s where stories about Don Bradman hitting the ball against the wall come in. Or the kid from school who wasn’t a standout player, but kept training hard and eventually played for Australia.
Lesson: In business, this doesn’t mean doing another course or training session. For a long time, I hid behind my lack of formal copywriting training. As a copywriter, ongoing professional development is important, and I’m grateful for the expert training offered in the Clever Copywriting School and Digital Masterchefs.
But turning up and watching a training session isn’t enough. That’s like my kids watching a professional basketball game and expecting it to improve their game.
To get better at the thing, you have to do the thing. Whether it’s hitting a cricket ball, dribbling a basketball or writing copy. The more I write, the better I get. The more clients I work with in different industries, the more I learn.
4. Play hard but fair.
Playing in the local competition, the boys often play against kids who are their teammates in the regional team. And even though these kids are their friends, they know that once they are on the court, they still need to play hard.
And while they’ve enjoyed a tough competition against their mates, they’ve also played against kids who haven’t always been as nice as you’d hope. Watching their reaction to poor sportsmanship has provided an important opportunity to talk about the need to play hard and fair.
Lesson: Being a good sport is just as important in business. There’s nothing wrong with competing against other businesses in our industry (we are running a business), but we need to be fair. For me, this means I can share the wins of other copywriters without feeling like it’s undermining my business.
5. Celebrate wins and learn from defeat.
My kids have realised they won’t win every game. They’re learning to be good sports, even when they don’t like the way the result has gone. They know that regardless of the result, it’s all about having fun and improving.
And they’ve also learned that they need to celebrate the wins graciously.
Lesson: The same goes for business. It’s not bragging to share that great testimonial or even your financial wins. If you can use the opportunity to give a shout out to the people that helped or showcase your client, that’s even better.
Not every client will love you. There will be jobs that don’t go as planned, clients that are the wrong fit. And that is ok. You just need to learn from the experience.
So, it turns out that me sitting on the sidelines wasn’t just fun or a good thing to do for my kids. Watching sport also taught me some valuable lessons about business.
Over to you
Whether you’re a sporting parent or still playing yourself, I’d love to hear the sporting lessons you’ve applied to your business. And if you’ve enjoyed this article, I’d love you to share it.