“In baseball and in business, there are three types of people. Those who make it happen, those who watch it happen, and those who wonder what happened.” – Tommy Lasorda, Hall of Fame baseball player and manager (1954-1956, player; 1976-1996, manager)
There is a lot to be said for committing the time and energy it takes to be an athlete. Many people grow up engaging in athletics at various levels. Whether or not they reach the highest levels of athletic competition is irrelevant because there are essential life lessons to be gained from participating in athletics.
While there is a multitude of arenas one can acquire important life lessons, athletics serve to challenge the physical and mental psyche of its participants. This doesn’t infer that only athletes understand physical and mental obstacles, but that athletes have the unique test of overseeing both, often simultaneously, and amidst other teammates and competitors.
Athletes undergo a lot of strenuous demands on the mind and body. This level of stress, assuming it is healthy, aids to benefit the athlete in other areas outside the sphere of competition. Essentially, what an athlete acquires in terms of knowledge, skills, and abilities coupled with what is amassed intangibly, arms the individual with “life” qualities that have the potential of contributing to enduring success in any field.Advertising
It’s important to remember that this list isn’t an attempt to generalize all athletes. It is merely a personal belief that athletics have a very positive effect on participants who take full advantage of them.
1. Athletes are disciplined and have strong work ethics.
Unless a particular athlete is blessed with raw, athleticism and talent, which equates to complete domination over the competition, athletes have to dedicate themselves to honing their crafts. It is also noteworthy that many of the greatest athletes possess immense natural ability which is complemented by an intense work ethic. And as the motivational quote states, “Hard work beats talent when talent doesn’t work hard.”
Employers desire employees who are disciplined and know what it takes to work hard. Athletes possess both of these necessary qualities or they probably wouldn’t have become athletes in the first place.
2. Athletes know what it means to fail, persevere, and overcome adversity.
Anyone who participates in athletics will at some point encounter obstacles. Athletics are a great metaphor for life. There are ebbs and flows to an athlete’s performances and experiences on the field or court. This is similar to life.Advertising
An athlete will fail at one time or another during the scope of competition. At this point the athlete has only two options: give up or persevere. Most athletes will choose to work through and conquer the impediments before them so they can achieve the goals they have set for themselves. Athletics offer a unique opportunity for athletes to learn how to fail gracefully and persist patiently.
3. Athletes are goal-oriented.
While many athletes are involved in their sports simply for the “love of the sport,” there is often something else that motivates and inspires them. Athletes excel at setting goals, pursuing those goals through training and nutrition mediums, and eventually accomplishing their objectives. This skill is very useful in the workforce where setting goals is critical for any successful business.
4. Athletes usually know how to work as a member of a team.
I write usually here because not all athletes are involved in team sports. While the majority of athletes participate as members of a team there are some who perform sports that are individual in nature.
Given the large proportion of athletes who are involved in team sports it would behoove any employer who seeks willing and effective “team players” to hire athletes. Teamwork and learning how to be a competent teammate are ingrained into athletes’ psyches from the time they first engage in athletics.Advertising
5. Athletes know how to lead.
At some point during athletic competition an athlete has to be a leader. Whether this is vocally or through action, athletes acquire the necessary skills to lead.
Leading doesn’t merely occur during the heat of competitions; athletes lead by the way they train and take care of their bodies; they lead by the way they treat their teammates and coaches; and perhaps most importantly they lead by the way they represent themselves, their team, and their sports on and off the arena.
Not all athletes are charismatic or even desirable leaders, but somewhere inside they have acquired the capabilities to lead. Working with other people on a daily basis in pursuit of a common goal forces you to learn how to lead. In the end it is a matter of whether or not they are willing to use those abilities to the fullest.
6. Athletes know how to accept criticism.
At one point or another any athlete will receive criticism, constructive or otherwise, from a coach. If an athlete is unwilling to accept this criticism, than he or she is probably not going to last long in athletics.Advertising
Just like athletes learns how to accept failures and work through them, they must also learn how to accept criticism. Realizing that their coaches are looking out for their best interests makes accepting criticism more manageable.
Employers want employees who aren’t going to shut down every instance they are criticized. Athletes are often “thick-skinned” and able to handle critiques more fluidly.
7. Athletes know how to learn a new skill and utilize it.
One of the most important components of being a competent employee is the ability to learn a new skill and utilize it. All athletes must undergo some kind of skill development in order to sustain their athletic performances.
Athletes strive strenuously to hone their skills in order to make themselves the most complete asset for their specific sport. Equipped with voracious work ethics, and the desire to master their skills, many athletes ultimately breed themselves for success on and off the playing field. And many of the skills athletes whet will pale in comparison to the skills they learn in the workforce.
Featured photo credit: Kemba Walker via cdn-jpg.si.com
Last Updated on October 21, 2018
How to Learn Twice as Fast? Get More Feedback
Have you ever heard of the idiom ‘practice makes perfect’? I’m pretty sure someone has said that to you at least once in your life! It’s a common saying, often used to encourage someone when they’re learning or doing something that is new to them.
They may need many tries before succeeding and getting it right. It’s like beginning to ride a bicycle, learning how to drive, taking up a second language, or cooking for the first time. It’s rare for someone to ace it on their first try.
Whenever you want to start learning something new, I’m sure you’re always hoping to get good at it quickly. But the reality is that sometimes it does take days, months or even years before you can confidently master a skill.
That’s simply how learning works. You try, you gain experience, you learn from it, and you try again. And each time, you’re improving and making progress. Everytime you repeat this learning process, you’re going through something called a Feedback Loop.
What separates a fast learner from a slower learner, is not some innate, natural talent. Instead, it’s because they understand how they learn, and have a systematic way to apply it all the time to learn a variety of things. They know how to effectively use their Feedback Loop to speed up the learning process.
So if you’re currently wanting to learn a new skill as quickly as possible, then you’re first going to need to learn how to create an effective Feedback Loop.
The Feedback Loop
Feedback means getting information about how well you’re performing each time you make an attempt at practicing or applying a skill. Feedback is what tells you what went wrong, or what went right.
A feedback loop is made up of 3 stages:
- Practice / Apply – This is the stage where you put what you want to learn into action.
- Measure – This is the stage where you’re acquiring information about your performance. This is also the stage that is most ignored… or done ineffectively.
- Learn – This is the stage where you analyze how well you performed, and make adjustments to improve and practice/apply again.
It is important to recognize these 3 stages and put them into place each time you practice a new skill.
Many people only have Stage 1 completed, and a very unclear or fuzzy process for Stage 2, which leads to poor results in Stage 3.
A good, smooth cycle will help you continuously make improvements with each loop, creating steady progress and upgrading your understanding of the skill.
How to Have an Effective Feedback Loop
To make sure your Feedback Loop is effective, you will have to look at 3 key factors: Consistency, Speed, and Accuracy.
Being consistent means having a regular way to get the same quality of feedback. You need to be able to compare every practice or learning experience in order to measure, learn and make adjustments. If your feedback is not consistent, then you’re going to have a hard time knowing what went wrong or what went right.
For example, say you’re learning to play the guitar. If you play a different song every time you practice, you’re going to get very inconsistent feedback. Because the difficulty, rhythm, and pace of every song is different, you won’t have a reliable way to compare how well you played the current song versus the last. So, the best way to learn would be to play the same song over and over again until you get to a certain proficiency.
Seems obvious in this case, but it’s just an example. A lot of times learning is hard because we don’t focus on keeping with a consistent environment or actions.
Let’s move on to the second factor: speed. Having speedy or fast feedback is important because the longer it takes to get feedback, the longer it will take to improve on the skill. That’s why some people spend a tremendous amount of time practicing, but make very slow progress.
On the other hand, the best forms of feedback are almost instantaneous. The shorter the time it takes for one Feedback Loop to complete, the better. This is because you’ll have more attempts, which means more improvements within the same timespan.
How to get fast feedback
So the key to getting fast feedback is to take the skill or knowledge and break it down. Try to breakdown the skill into different components. They could be broken down into steps, subskills or processes, or even by difficulty.
For example, if the skill you want to learn involves a sequence (ie: there is a step by step process), you can break your learning down by each step. Create a Feedback Loop for each step individually instead of the whole process. Isolate the processes into different parts that you can focus and work on individually.
Let’s say you’re learning to cook. You can break this skill into steps, such as finding fresh and suitable ingredients, preparing and handling the ingredients, preparing condiments and sauces, serving and plating, etc.
Or let’s say you’d like to learn how to play soccer. You can identify the sub-skills that make up the larger learning techniques to playing soccer, and create feedback loops for each of them individually. So you could start by learning how to dribble the ball, followed by passing, and then shooting.
The third and final factor to an effective Feedback Loop, is accuracy. This means having feedback that actually reflects your performance accurately. Since you’re relying on feedback to tell you what and where to improve next time, this is very important. This is why measuring feedback is a key skill to have for an effective Feedback Loop.
How to Measure Feedback
Obtaining accuracy in feedback is a common weak point for many learners, because it’s not always easy to define what “accurate” means.
To get accurate feedback, we have to have a way of measuring it. The reason why we sometimes get poor feedback is because we’re trying to measure our progress without quantifying our performance. Or, we’re using the wrong metrics to quantify the feedback. Worse yet, it might just be that you were never measuring or recording your performance at all.
In order to find areas for improvement, you have to be able to compare your current performance with your previous performance.
Quantifying something means attaching a number to it. This helps to give objectivity and consistency when comparing two things. Quantifying feedback can give you constructive information that will help you improve during each cycle of the feedback loop.
Continuously Improve Your Feedback Loop!
Are you ready to put your feedback loop into practice? What’s a new skill that you’d like to start on?
Try implementing every stage of the Feedback Loop when learning this new skill and see for yourself whether your learning improves at a quicker rate.
It is essential to continuously improve your Feedback Loop in order to keep up your momentum, and avoid running into the law of diminishing returns. Improving your Feedback Loop means knowing what to measure next, and what questions to ask to find out.
If you’d like to learn more, subscribe to our newsletter. You’ll discover a lot more gems that will help you speed up your learning; and, these skills will push you towards the goals that you’ve been striving for. All your goals are within reach when you master the Feedback Loop!
Featured photo credit: Raj Eiamworakul via unsplash.com