football player scoring a touchdown

As the end of my undergraduate career rapidly approaches, I’m beginning to accept the notion that I’ll be out in the big, scary, real world all on my own in less than a year! I’ve done many things during my time at Western Connecticut State University to prepare for my future career: I’ve maintained a high GPA, held a few part-time jobs, and had a great internship experience with Church Hill Classics. However, I believe what has best prepared me for my future endeavors is being a player on WCSU’s women’s lacrosse team. Every lesson I’ve learned from being an athlete can be applied to the workplace. Here are just a few examples:

Teamwork

womans rowing team

Being on a sports team teaches you to work well with others. You and your colleagues (teammates) are all working toward a common goal, and the best way to accomplish that goal is to work together. Sometimes you have to pick up the slack for a teammate who’s not performing well that day. Other times you may need to reach out to others when you’re the one struggling and in need of help. Either way, athletes know how to support each other and understand the power behind the message, “united we stand, divided we fall.”

sprinter ready to run

Practice Makes Perfect

Athletes know that luck is not something you should rely on. You will probably never score the winning goal in a game if you haven’t scored in practice first. The endless drills, aching muscles, and relentless coaches always seem worth it when your team is celebrating its victory. My point here is that sometimes things you don’t like are good for you. I’d be lying if I said I love the part-time jobs I’ve held since high school. However, I like to look at them as practice for when I finally achieve my dream career. Phones ringing off the hook, dealing with angry customers, hours upon hours of mind-numbing data entry…all experiences that are not particularly fun but are all necessary rites of passage. If you can view the things you don’t like about your job as “practice” for your future success, the half-empty glass suddenly seems half-full; add a little hard work in there, and you’ve got yourself a recipe for career victory!

Self-Confidence

Playing sports teaches you to have self-confidence. If you’re up at bat with a fastball coming your way and all you are saying to yourself in your head is, “Oh man, there’s no way I can do this”…then strike three, you’re out! The best way to approach a difficult task is to believe you can do it from the get-go.

softball player

If your boss plops a seemingly insurmountable pile of work onto your desk, don’t panic. Take a deep breath, tell yourself you can do it, and make a game plan. Strategizing ahead of time gives you a clear focus and is far more productive than diving into something when you’re feeling overwhelmed and unorganized.

Confidence is especially important for any person whose profession requires them to make sales. Without confidence, your customers are not going to believe in you or the product. If you can conduct yourself with poise and charisma, it’s much easier to earn the respect and admiration of those around you. People with high self-confidence are not discouraged by defeat or failure. They can learn from their mistakes and use those lessons to create success in the future.

There are countless other analogies that can be created about athletics and workplace success, like setting goals, hard work and determination, team bonding, or even accepting defeat. So whether you participate in sports or not, the next time you are on the field or in the stands, think about how much the game can teach you. What you learn may surprise you!

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