Football and Startup; a childhood dream
Last Saturday my brother invited me to watch him play football (soccer, the english game) against a rival team. Watching my brother play was delightful because he was following his love for football and having a good time at it.
What was more prevalent was the importance of the teams and how working together was crucial to winning the game. 3 things stood out very obviously.
1. Decision making is like a muscle, it needs practice.
The team my brother was playing against were perhaps not very gifted when it came to individual talent but they had one major advantage, they played as a team. Every player knew exactly where his team mates were running towards. They made lightning quick passing decisions. This comes from playing as a team and having had the practice of making quick decisions. Decision making happens in the brain but all grey matter, like any other muscle needs practice.
So do not wait till working or starting up to start making decisions, make small decisions daily and you will be prepared when the big ones come to you. Sport, or team sport specifically is great for honing your gut, instinct or 6th sense about situations.
2. There is no I in Team.
The opposing team had no star players but they were star team players. It is crucial for players on any team to understand that One is not playing for personal glory rather the first goal is to win, with the team.
Similarly business is not single man game. You will need a team and having clear goals as well as picking the right people who compliment each other is important. Inflated egos can bring any enterprise (sport included) down faster than money or vision running out.
3. The leader sets the tone for team morale.
There were 2 types of leaders on the pitch that day. My brother’s coach kept shouting, encouraging, and giving instructions throughout the game. The opposing team’s coach was silent and spoke to his team before, during half time and after the game.
Who do you think was the better coach ? Personally I do not know if either method of coaching is superior but what was clear is the opposing team’s coach demanded full and complete loyalty and sportsmanship. I asked him after the game about his style and he said “my shouting and screaming will not encourage, discourage or give my players and edge, if anything it will distract them. Also if I have to scream at them during a game, it means our communication is bad and we have lost already”
I thought it was an interesting concept. Communication is so crucial in startup or sport that the teams that play to their strengths and communicate often can pull off major feats. (See Moneyball) The leader needs to understand to set the tone for the endeavor and give his team mates the confidence in following him.
Ultimately, the biggest takeaway from the whole game is to leave the pitch knowing you gave each game your best and you can smile despite the result. Because truly only you know if you have given it 100% or not.
It was indeed an enlightening Saturday.