7 Things Athletes and Successful Business People Have in Common

There have been lots of comparisons drawn over the years between top athletes and successful business people. Success breeds success and there are common attributes that can be found in all top levels of athletes and business people.

Below are 7 similarities that stand out:


They all have a winner’s mindset


Top sprinter Usain Bolt visualizes winning a race. Christiano Ronaldo visualizes kicking the winning goal. It’s the winning mindset these athletes live and breathe each day to bring out the very best in their performance on and off the field.

The same goes for successful business people who have a ‘never say die’ attitude and ‘yes we can’ mentality. Donald Trump is a great example of a successful businessperson that has a winning mindset. Winners always focus on the positive, look for solutions to challenges and obstacles and ways to overcome hurdles that life throws at them. It’s the way they have trained themselves to have a ‘winning mindset’ that enables them to be the very best they can be in their chosen sporting or business profession.


They are self-driven


You’ll notice that top athletes and successful business people are wired to make things happen. They will work longer, harder and push through pain barriers most people will not, despite the odds.

Eddie the Eagle was a famous ski jumper who by sheer grit and determination was able to qualify and represent his country in the 1988 Winter Olympics. Steve Jobs, founder of Apple and Pixar was a successful business owner who was self-driven and wanted to change the way the world operated.

Self-driven individuals don’t need a lot of convincing to get the job done. They arrive early, leave last and do whatever it takes, usually stopping at nothing until they achieve their goals. It’s at the core of who they are.


They are coachable


All athletes have a coach to guide them. The great Roger Federer at his peak of number 1 in the tennis world had a coach, because he knew he had room to improve and it was the job of his coach to ensure that this top gun remained in peak physical and mental condition to achieve his potential at all times.

Several top businessmen like Robert Kiyosaki and Jim Rohn have attributed their success to having great mentors, advisors and business/peak performance coaches to continually challenge themselves, be accountable and lift their game.

Being coachable is a key success habit of anyone who wants to achieve their very best, be it at an elite sporting level or in the business world.


They are always looking to improve


Ray Kroc famously said, “as long as you’re green, you’re growing. As soon as you’re ripe, you start to rot.” Throughout the journey of top athletes or successful business people, they are constantly looking to improve, never satisfied with where they are.

They never sit still. Once they achieve a goal, they are looking to breakthrough and hit the next milestone or target. It’s a continual cycle of constant and never ending improvement.

For example, Olympic athletes train for years leading up to the main event and continue training afterwards, always looking to improve on their personal best. Successful entrepreneurs like Richard Branson continually look for opportunities to make a difference and improve on the services they can provide, constantly challenging themselves and raising the bar. This is what drives them each and every day. 


They learn from their mistakes


One of the biggest similarities you’ll find with top athletes and business people is that they will make more mistakes than anyone else. More importantly, they learn from their mistakes and become wiser, achieving better results. The more they fail, the more they succeed.

Michael Jordan, arguably the greatest basketball player ever to play the game said, “the reason I succeed is because I have failed more than anyone else”. Most successful business people have failed multiple times prior to them succeeding. As a youngster, Bill Gates was dismissed dozens of times when he first pitched his idea of uniting the world through home computing. He never gave up, learned from his mistakes, refined his approach and was finally able to get the start he needed to build Microsoft, changing the world as we know it. Mistakes are a pathway to success for those who wish to pursue it to the end.


They have clearly defined goals


Brian Tracy describes in his book, ‘flight plan’, beginning with the end in mind. Athletes train themselves to visualize winning the grand final, crossing the finish line or smashing a world record and achieving a specific goal. They know exactly what they want to achieve and can set a series of steps in place to achieve this.

If you know your goal or destination, you can mark a route to get there and measure your progress along the way. John Wooden, legendary basketball coach for UCLA was successful in driving his team to victory on multiple occasions by having clearly defined goals and objectives. This helps him and his team focus on the job and exactly what was needed in order to get it done.

Without clear goals, it’s hard to measure whether you are on track. If you can’t measure your progress, it’s hard to know what to improve, or if you’re even heading in the right direction.


They have a strong ‘why’


Thomas Edison, renowned for inventing the light bulb in 1879 said, “Many of life’s failures are people who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up”. After a thousand failed attempts, he finally succeeded where others had failed because his ‘why’ was so powerful.

The great Mohammed Ali famously said, “Service to others is the rent you pay for your room here on earth.” His reasons for doing what he did was to champion the cause for the people at the time, be it in defiance of going to war, fighting for what you believe in, or equality of people. His ‘why’ was to be a champion and inspire change. His ‘why’ was greater than winning any fight.

Never stop fighting.