Conventional wisdom dictates that participation in team sports builds character and makes one a better person – or a better business developer.
However, the supposed benefits – learning to work within a group, becoming accustomed to hard work, stick-to-itiveness, bouncing back from failure – are traits you can develop without ever slugging, dribbling, catching or kicking a ball. (Apologies to those who swim, shoot a bow and arrow, put a shot, etc.)
The main difference between a sports team and a job in, say, business development, is that a team has coaches who spend all their time telling you how to behave or improve, who motivate you to close that little gap that transforms you from loser to winner, and who console you when you end up losing anyway.
Oh, wait: Many coaches, it turns out, aren’t really very good at teaching those things. And most of the time, players figure out for themselves how to persevere or they get kicked off the team. In that way, many jobs and bosses are similar. You may find you are pretty much on your own, and unless you seek out a mentor, you alone are in charge of practicing your shot, preparing for the big presentation, marketing yourself, building endurance for the long run, and keeping track of the details that cumulatively give you the capacity to succeed.
And just as all but one team in every league ends each year with a loss, you must prepare to deal with inevitable disappointment, preferably in a professional and mature manner. (Any fool can celebrate a win; character comes to the fore during the difficult times.)
Who will teach you all that? Mostly, it’s going to be you, learning from your own experience, while figuring out whom you can work with.
That’s why, whether on the field or in the office, it pays to always keep practicing.