The Final Four have been chosen and next Monday the Championship Game will wrap up March Madness. Brackets have been broken, heartbreaks have been plentiful, and overall the dedication has been impressive. Throughout all of my years of running a business, I’m always surprised by the lessons you can learn from watching athletes who have dedicated their lives to becoming the best at their sport. Even if you’re not a fan of basketball, you can still learn numerous lessons from March Madness that you can bring back to your business:
Don’t Dismiss the Underdog – The staggering amount of upsets this year just goes to show that the underdog always has a chance. Just because your business is smaller than some of the better known brands in your industry, that doesn’t mean you don’t stand a chance. Innovative marketing strategies, outstanding public relations and stellar customer service are just some of the ways that your business can compete against larger brands.
Understand your Teammate’s Strengths – When you see a great team play in unison, it looks like they instinctively know where their other teammates will be ahead of time. This isn’t an accident; the players just make it look natural. After months and months of practice, every team member knows each other’s strengths and weaknesses, and they analyze their situation and make their decisions accordingly. This, of course, translates well to a business setting, but your team may be hesitant to admit that they have weaknesses. It’s imperative that you discuss this with your team, because if someone doesn’t understand their weaknesses, they’ll never be able to improve them.
Trust your Mentors – The advice offered by a mentor (or coach) can sometimes sound incredibly risky. They’re not the ones playing the game or running the business, so why should you listen to them? Well, a good mentor has years and years of expertise under their belt, and has experienced both the good and bad in their respected fields. Their triumphs and failures have given them a unique point of view. Don’t ever brush off advice that a mentor is willing to give you, but don’t blindly accept advice either.
You Can’t Predict The Future – This point has less to do with the athletes, but I still feel that entrepreneurs can learn from it. Warren Buffet had offered a $1 Billion to anyone who delivered a perfect bracket. Roughly 8.7 million entered the contest, even though Yahoo Sports said that there was a 1 in 128 billion chance of making a perfect bracket. And while all of the brackets had been called “un-perfect” by the Sweet Sixteen stage, it shows that no matter how astronomically impossible the odds may be, you have to at least try.
What lessons have you picked up while watching the tournament this year? More importantly, is your team still in the tourney? I look forward to chatting with you in the comments.