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3 of the Most Important Life Lessons You Can Learn From Sports

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Among the many values of sports, there are three special lessons that transition flawlessly into life. Every successful person I have ever worked with has developed these three concepts.

FQ is more important than IQ

I was directing a basketball clinic in Salt Lake City, Utah when Dale Brown, the former Louisiana State University coach, spoke these words, “Your FQ is more important than your IQ.” He then explained that your FQ is your Failure Quotient. How often can you fail at something and have the resiliency to get right back up?

Pat Riley, the president of the NBA’s Miami Heat, wrote, “Success is getting up one more time than you’ve been knocked down.” If there is one constant in the athletic world, it is that athletes will meet failure.

Baseball players must develop strong FQ’s because failure is a huge part of their game. Great hitters fail 7 out of 10 at bats. They experience failure 70% of the time. Basketball players have a similar experience. A player is an outstanding 3 point shooter if he fails 6 out of every 10 shot attempts.

The University of St. Francis basketball team I coached for 34 years played in a tournament in New York against the number 2 ranked team in the country. They were a great team and they beat us on a shot at the final buzzer.

Our best shooter, who was averaging 17 points per game, took 10 shots in the game and failed to make one basket. We had to play another game the next day. Before the game I told him, “If I see you open and you don’t shoot, I am taking you out of the game. You are our best shooter and you will shoot us into the national tournament at the end of the season.”…And that is exactly what he did because he had developed a resilient FQ.

Life can often be a struggle. Most of us will meet failure personally and/or professionally. There is a lot of adversity out there and none of us are exempt. We have to beat failure in life just like our player did in the athletic arena. We have to get back up. How? Two ways: Learn from it and put it behind you.

“I’ve failed over and over again in my life and that is why I succeed.” – Michael Jordan

Team ego

Bill Russell played for the Boston Celtics for 13 years. In 11 of those 13 years, the Celtics won the NBA championship. Russell said whenever the Celtic players entered a building for a practice or a game, they left their individual egos at the door. But what they brought in was their Team Ego.

They knew they were a talented team and they also knew they played together. Their Team Ego was telling their opponent that they better bring an outstanding game if they were to beat the Celtics, because the Celtics knew they would bring a great game every night.

The essence of athletics is teamwork. John Wooden, the legendary UCLA basketball coach, taught, “The main ingredient of a star is the rest of the team.” He was fortunate to coach numerous stars and he got them to believe in his team first philosophy.

Michael Jordan was a star. I saw him play in person at the Chicago Stadium and the United Center at least 40 times during the most important time of the season – the NBA playoffs. He is the best player I have ever seen play the game.

When you think of Jordan, you think of his great scoring ability, but you seldom hear what a great teammate he was. He practiced harder than anyone on the Bulls; he was their best defensive player, arguably the best defender in the entire NBA; and he is the leading assist man in Bulls history. Jordan set the tone for the Bulls Team Ego!

I have worked with some outstanding leaders – principals at the high school level and presidents at the collegiate level. They knew they could not lead alone; they needed to develop a strong team and they did two things toward this goal: They surrounded themselves with good people and they gave all the credit away. They created a strong Team Ego by taking the blame but passing the credit on.

Listening

Sport is a great arena to develop the skill of listening. Every sport begins with the teaching of the fundamentals. Every sport teaches a system of play. Every athlete wants playing time and that begins and ends with listening. It is only by listening intently that a player can successfully understand and implement the fundamentals and the system.

One player not listening to game planning and game coaching can destroy team play. One player not in the right spot at the right time leads to broken plays.

Classroom teaching and the teaching of sport are the same, with one exception. Teachers and coaches teach their subject matter in the classroom and their systems on the athletic fields and courts. When the classroom exam comes, the students must know the subject matter to perform well. The exam in athletics is the game.

The players must execute the system the coach has taught them during the game. However, the opponent will do all he can to not allow the team to run their system. It would be like a student taking an exam with someone’s hand waving over his eyes during the entire exam! Players must develop the skill of listening if they are to beat the opponents who are waving their hands at them throughout the game.

Every great leader I’ve worked with was a great listener. They listened with their ears and their eyes. Their eyes were riveted on the person speaking as they gave that person their full attention.

The bottom line to listening in life is simple: LISTENING IS RESPECT.

“It’s lack of faith that makes people afraid of meeting challenges, and I believed in myself.” – Muhammad Ali

The development of a strong FQ, concentrating on team ego, and listening  – great lessons that can be learned in athletics –  do lead to a successful life.

If these lessons of sport and life lead to success, you may want to remember John Wooden’s maxim:Talent is God given, so be humble, Fame is man given, so be thankful, But conceit is self-given, and you better be careful.

Pat Sullivan was a successful coach, teacher, and administrator in the Chicago area for 44 years – 10 years at the high school level and 34 at the collegiate level. His basketball teams won 602 games; he was named Coach-of-the-Year 11 times; and he has been inducted into 8 Halls of Fame. He has received Lifetime Achievement awards from Lewis University, the Joliet, Illinois, Chamber of Commerce, and the Illinois Basketball Coaches Association. Pat has offered basketball clinics and camps in Austria, Ireland, Belgium, and Greece and has spoken at clinics throughout America for the USA Coaches Clinics. He has also spoken to business executives from IBM, Accenture, and Sun Microsystems, as well as the University of Notre Dame’s Play Like A Champion conference. He is the author of Attitude-The Cornerstone of Leadership and Team-Building: From the Bench to the Boardroom.

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A Simple but Effective Technique to Be More Confident

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Many people want to learn how to be confident in different situations, but it’s not always easy. Maybe we’re too addicted to comparing ourselves or maybe social media has brainwashed us to believe that we should all be rich, famous, and in incredible shape. (more…)

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Knowing Your Message vs Delivering Your Message

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Have you ever sent a text message only to have it misinterpreted by the person reading it? Happens all the time. Have you ever given a presentation that you were totally prepared for only to have it fall flat? Happens all the time. Have you ever had someone ask you something like, “Why are you mad?” when you were not at all mad? Happens all the time. (more…)

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The 3 Most Important Things I Learned About Personal Growth

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When you look back on your life, what do you want to think about? Do you plan to reminisce on all of the good things that have happened and how they shaped who you are today? Or would you rather remember all of the bad decisions, challenging experiences, and mistakes made that hurt or wasted a portion of your life?

In my opinion, I think it is important to reflect on both. While it’s important to remember the hardships we’ve been through in our lives – without them we wouldn’t be where we are now. There are 3 very specific areas that I feel have helped me grow in a personal sense more than anything else in my life so far. 

These aren’t simple lessons in a book or a lecture that you can just absorb and apply to your life. These are things that I’ve learned through experience and reflection, and I’m still learning and growing today.

1. We determine how much we’re worth by what we think about ourselves, others, and life in general.

This might seem like a pretty obvious lesson in life but it’s actually one of the most important because we can determine our own worth by how we think about ourselves and the world around us. If you’re looking for success in any kind of business or social setting (dating), then I’ll tell you right now that it doesn’t matter if you have 10 billion dollars or not – people are still going to judge you based on your thoughts and beliefs alone.

What determines our value isn’t necessarily what we do with our lives (which is often based on luck) but whether or not we believe that ‘our work’ is worthy or not in some sort of grand scheme or universe. We may not always be able to control what happens in our lives, but we can always control how we value ourselves and others.

“Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better.” – Maya Angelou

2. You don’t have to change your habits or personality just because someone else doesn’t like it – their opinions are THEIRS alone.

This is another one of those lessons that people tend to pick up on a little bit late in life, but if anything that makes its importance even worse! Basically, there’s going to come a time when you’re going to meet someone who has certain expectations of you as a person…but these expectations might not be realistic due to their motivations and personal beliefs. For example, sometimes parents might expect you to be a lawyer or doctor because that’s what they believe is best for their child.

However, this isn’t the case for everyone and so maybe your passion lies in music or writing novels. In this example, if you were also pressured into becoming a doctor – then there would obviously be some kind of conflict going on within yourself as a person. You should never have to give up something that you want to do just because someone else doesn’t like it! The reason why we’re put onto this Earth is to make our own choices and go after our OWN dreams instead of letting others determine what we can and cannot do with our lives .

3. You can’t change your life until you accept that you need to make a change.

When I was younger, I thought that this lesson would be pretty obvious – but as I got older, it really made me appreciate the fact that there are always different ways of perceiving our lives. For example, if someone wants to become rich and famous one day – their mind might simply overshadow any other possibility in their head because they feel like this is what they NEED to do right now.

However, this isn’t always true within our own lives because we think about things too literally instead of having an open mind. If you want to achieve success in any kind of business or social setting (dating) then you should be willing to try out different things instead of staying in your comfort zone. If you want something, then it’s up to YOU to actually go after it – nobody else is going to give it to you!

The three lessons above are some of the main things I want to pass on to everyone because they’ve come at an important time in my life where I need to start thinking about others instead of only myself. It’s great if we can learn to love ourselves first before anything else, but that doesn’t mean you should neglect everyone around you even though they might be your friends and family members!

If you enjoyed this article on the 3 most important things I learned about personal growth, then please share it with your friends and family! Also, check out my other articles on success & motivation as well as life lessons that could help people who are struggling with their life right now on lifengoal.com. Thanks for reading!

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​​4 Boss Level Growth Strategies That Create an Optimized Life

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Building a business is about more than sales, marketing, and flexing on social media. While those things tend to draw attention, they attract the wrong type of clients and are not how you build a sustainable and freedom-focused business. (more…)

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