Long before I was a successful CEO, I was an athlete. I may not have been destined for the NFL, but I learned a lot from my years as a player, and I like to think my coaches and teammates valued my contribution. Even today I count among my friends those who did make it to the elite levels of sport.
I played many sports, but in particular, I was a receiver and team captain at the college football level in Ontario, Canada. I was a great fit for the University of Guelph Gryphon squad, which had a culture of team before individual goals, aggressiveness and old-fashioned hard work. My coach, Dan McNally, taught me that life and sports aren't fair and that those who are prepared to make personal sacrifices and prepare better than their competitors will succeed.
In my professional field of executive recruiting, I began to focus on culture and recruiting for fit because I saw how vital that was to maintaining a competitive advantage. In many ways, the best practices to find great talent, recruit it and keep it aren't all that different from the measures used by the world's most elite sports franchises.
Here are three lessons from three off-the-field sports geniuses — the general managers and coaches of pro teams — that can serve as models for 'business athletes.'