Much of what I’ve learned about the world of business has its roots in my amateur athletics career. Whether you realize it or not sports and business have many parellels (probably because sports are business), especially when it comes to the areas of talent and performance.
Take the “contract year” phenomenon for example.
Every year a handful of veteran players emerge to dominate professional sports leagues; seemingly from nowhere. It’s the forward who scores 10 goals a year his first three years in the league, then all of sudden nets 40 in his fourth year.
Usually their herculean efforts are spurned by the almighty “contract year.” The year that proceeds becoming a free agent, infamous for inflated performances, because the player knows that the better they perform the more they will make the next year.
The problem with the contract year for teams and players is that the player is often solely judged on that last and is compensated into the future and rarely repeats this performance.
It can be seen year after year. A player gets hot, gets a big contract, then stinks it up until they’re released or come on in another contract year).
Now most of us don’t have contract years, nor the luxury to coast for a few years. We’re somewhere between getting the job done and, well, not.
But what if you played every day like it was your contract year? If you played every day like you’re trying to earn that big signing bonus, salary, promotion or whatever else it is that you’ve got your eye on.
And what if after you’ve got it, you don’t stop, but keep going. Sort of like you had never achieved the goal at all.
What would the impact be on your life, your career and your success?
Unless you’re a rookie, fresh out of college, looking to get drafted, chances are that you’re a veteran somewhere and have this choice every day. You can play every day like it is a contract year or you can not.
Think about it.
Most people jump through all sorts of hoops to get a great job only to coast. Sales professionals kill themselves to land that big deal, only to never call the customer again. Entrepreneurs beg, borrow and steal to get their enterprise off the ground, only to kick back once things are rolling.
Make every snap count. Compete. Compete. Compete. With your boss, your peers, but most importantly compete with yourself.
Because unlike that professional athlete, you can’t afford to coast. You’ve got too much to play for.