What Entrepreneurs Need to Know About Performance Coaching
Recently, the SportStrata Performance Coaching team had the opportunity to sit down with the Entrepreneurs Organization Brooklyn chapter, which is a group of entrepreneurs that have been involved in founding and/or owning a company grossing over one million dollars annually.
One of the first things that jumped out at me was that this group was intensely interested in the work our team has done with professional athletes. As a former Division 1 athlete, I am accustomed to being around elite level athletes and have seen personally what it takes to play at the next level. What I have not been exposed to as much is entrepreneurship, so I was curious to see how receptive these entrepreneurs would be to performance coaching. Turns out, this group of performers was not only receptive, but highly engaged in the ideas presented by our team. It is both interesting and important to point out that all performers have a specialized set of skills, whether that is athletic ability, managing a company, performing a Broadway show, or putting out a fire in downtown Manhattan. What is less obvious is how much each group of professionals appreciate what the other professionals are able to do. For example, an Entrepreneur may be making millions and millions of dollars, but be awestruck by the way an NBA star can dominate a basketball game, or that first-responders are willing to risk their life to put a fire out. Meanwhile, that same firefighter or professional athlete is equally impressed by the entrepreneur’s ability to manage an entire business from start to finish. As a performance coach who hears these different high performers speak about each other in this way, it is clear to me that we should take a moment to acknowledge and appreciate the different strengths each one of us has. It is also very valuable to notice the ways that these high performers in different arenas use the same mental skills to do what they do, whether that’s sinking the game winning shot in front of 100,000 screaming fans, scaling the side of a building to rescue a child, or nailing a business presentation.
THREE STRATEGIES ENTREPRENEURS CAN LEARN FROM A PERFORMANCE COACH
Fixed vs. Growth Mindset
Fixed mindset is the belief that your abilities are innate, static, and unchanging, where a growth mindset is the belief that abilities can be shaped and improved. When it comes to owning your own business, most people aren’t born as an owner or founder of a business that generates $1 million in sales annually. So how did they get there? They get there by realizing there is never an opportunity to stop growing. During the workshop, you should have seen how attentive and involved these entrepreneurs were. Some may think, “Well they have made it! They make over a million dollars a year, what else do they have to learn.” But to quite the contrary these individual’s mindsets were the opposite. They could not get enough of what we had to say. If they didn’t understand something, they would ask for it to be repeated, or ask us to elaborate on a specific example, or even asking questions about how Major League Baseball players handle these types of situations. This speaks volumes, as they are always trying to learn and grow no matter what success or failure they have seen in the past, and is undoubtedly a major reason they are so successful.
Process vs. Outcome
The second strategy is being process-focused instead of outcome-focused. In the workshop, we had the entrepreneurs partner up and tell the person sitting across from them what their goal was for the next year. “What did they want out of their business?” Once they had completed that, we asked them to turn to their partner again and this time be more specific, “How are you planning on getting to that goal?” Dr. Fader asked someone to shout out their goal as an example, one woman immediately yelled, “7 MILLION!” Meaning she wanted to make $7 million in revenue this year. Then he asked her, “How do you plan on doing that?” It is important for entrepreneurs to have that one outcome goal, but it is even more important that they know how they are going to reach that goal. If we just sit around hoping and wishing for a black shiny briefcase full of millions of dollars to end up on our front porch we are going to waiting a long time. We must figure out what we can control in order to put ourselves in a situation that a black shiny briefcase full of millions of dollars is more likely to show up at our door step. A more appropriate question to ask yourself is, “What can I do today to get closer to the $7 million-dollar goal?” You can determine this by figuring out what is in your control and what is not. The sooner you can learn to differentiate between what is and what is not in your control, the sooner you can take action. Do you fire that employee you’ve been avoiding? Do you make those phone calls you’ve be dreading? By identifying what it is you need to DO today to get one step closer, you are able to guide yourself one step closer to the outcome you wish to achieve, but inevitably have no control over. A great example of controlling the controllable is Nolan Ryan, a former pitcher in the MLB and a first-ballot hall of famer who still holds the record for most career strikeouts. Everyone wanted to know what his secret was, how was he able to strike out so many batters? The short answer, he knew how to control the controllables. He is known for saying that he never struck anybody out. He picked the pitch he wanted to throw, and then threw it as well as he could. It was the batter’s job to strike himself out. Ryan was focusing on his process and what he could do, versus focusing on striking out the batters, which he ultimately had no control over.
Responding to Failure
The third strategy is knowing how to respond to failure. During our meeting one of the Brooklyn Entrepreneurs asked Dr. Fader, “So what do you tell the Major League Baseball pitchers to say to themselves after a batter launches a homerun off of them?” Great question. During a game you can see a pitcher reacting negatively to an unwanted outcome by throwing his hat, slapping his glove on his thigh, kicking the dirt, crouching down and covering their face with his hat, or cursing under his breath, but is that the right response to have? How someone responds to a perceived failure has an enormous impact of what is to follow.
Being an entrepreneur, there are many times in which failure will occur, be it large or small, but all will be opportunities to learn and grow. It’s how you react to this failure that is going to make or break you. While the founder of Harley Davidson was testing out engines for a motorcycle he realized the motor was making too loud of noises, so they changed the engine to a quieter version, and no one bought it anymore! They went and put what was called the “defect” back into the motorcycle to make it sound louder and began selling their motorcycles again.
How will you react? I don’t want you to read this article and think that I am setting you up for failure by making a plan for what to do when it happens; quite the opposite. Life is full of setbacks, or “microfailures”, and how you are able to bounce back from those and respond effectively will eventually define who you become. Have a plan. If you are late to meeting, how will you respond? If you don’t get the call you want, how will you respond? If your new idea gets rejected, how will you respond? By having these plans in place and practicing them you will be able to feel more prepared, more confident, and have ways to carry on despite any minor or major setback.