Making it to the top of any profession requires an insane amount of hard work, perseverance, belief, preparation, and precise execution. Being a former professional athlete in the NFL required everything I thought it was going to take and more. And yet my football career didn’t last all that long; in 2010, I was injured in my first game as a linebacker for the Chicago Bears and, during the months-long recovery, decided that my true calling was in helping people find their true calling.
Now, having established a career as a business-performance strategist and motivational speaker, it’s amazing how much of what I learned in football applies to business. I wish more athletes, particularly those nearing the end of their careers, were able to see that what helped get them to the top as an athlete can also play to their advantage in business.
Here are three things I learned in the NFL about being successful in business.
1. You must win from the neck up before you win anywhere else.
I tell people all the time: the only way I was ever able to at least give myself a chance to play in the NFL was to work on developing my mind. The best athletes in the world will tell you just how important it is to have vision and focus. The same goes for business. Whether you’re an entrepreneur, business owner, executive, or employee, for you to win, you must first win in your mind.
Motivational books can help interrupt the negative inner dialogue that often shrinks your vision; some of my favorites are As A Man Thinketh by James Allen and The Power of Positive Thinking by Norman Vincent Peale. I also find it helpful to read the autobiographies of people who have achieved a great amount of success in the world. It’s important to engage in conversations that build you up instead of tear you down. It’s important to go to work on your mind every day of your life. And when you do, you will begin to experience a whole new level of happiness and success that will prime you for a bigger future than you ever imagined.
2. Preparation breeds champions.
Every single football coach I’ve had since the age of 6 has rightly preached the importance of preparation.Preparation breeds champions. The football teams with the best cultures and Super Bowl records prepare like no one else. That same trait carries over to the most accomplished leaders.
In my short time with the Chicago Bears, I saw the value of preparation in probable Hall of Famer Brian Urlacher, who consistently put in the time and effort to perfect his craft. Look at Steve Jobs, Elon Musk, and other business legends; they prepared and worked to master their craft. Make it a priority to make sure that your preparation is second to none.
3. You can’t become great by yourself.
In order to be great in athletics or in business, it’s imperative you build a world-class team around you and seek out the best talent to carry out your vision.You may be able to reach a certain level of achievement by yourself, but it’s impossible to be great alone.
When I first started writing and speaking, the first thing that I did was assemble a world-class team of mentors and friends to provide me with the knowledge and skills to help me along the way. Take a long and hard look at the team that you have around you. Are they supporting your vision and helping you to grow and get better? If not, start now. It means everything.
Originally Posted on Fortune.com