What sport can teach you about career success

Attention to detail will help you stay on top of your game
Precision and discipline are vital if you want to make it in business.
As any entrepreneur will tell you, setting up your own business is not for the fainthearted – but it is incredibly rewarding. Prior to starting my firm, I enjoyed a career as a professional footballer in Asia. While it’s admittedly a world away from executive search (which is what we specialise in), I have adopted the same approach to my company as I did to sport.
This has helped me overcome many of the challenges and hurdles that you associate with setting up and running a business. Here’s how I’ve gone about it.


In sport, you know where you want to be and you have a roadmap that tells you precisely how you’re going to get there – nothing is left to chance. Team GB cyclists make sure that every speck of dust is removed from their bike tyres, so that nothing gets in the way of that all-important win. The same level of precision should be applied to business.
My staff are meticulous in everything they do: from carefully timing when they call a client, to how they talk a candidate through that first handshake.


In football, no matter how good you might be, you’re nothing without a great team behind you. It’s the same in business. The ability to attract and retain the best talent is key to running a successful operation. Building a team that works together to achieve and celebrate shared goals will create a great motivational atmosphere in the office, and this is key to success.


Your staff are your company’s most valuable asset, and just like in sport, it’s vital that they are well looked after. After all, a happy and healthy workforce is a productive one. This is why I provide my staff with fitness trackers, so they can monitor their daily activity; and it’s why I’ve kitted the office out with a smoothie maker, so that staff have the opportunity to stay as healthy as possible.


When establishing myself in the world of recruitment, I applied the same mentality of dedication and sacrifice I had in my sporting career, working tirelessly from 4am to 8pm in order to make a name for myself.
It takes hard work, determination and dedication to succeed in business, and you need to be prepared to leave your comfort zone and make personal sacrifices to get there. But even if it seems impossible at times, you must stick with it.
My career in sport taught me many things, but most importantly it taught me this: if one day things don’t go so well, then get up and try again. Learn from your mistakes, keep refining your technique, and you’ll find yourself at the top of your game.
Stephen Stott is founder and chief executive of Stott and May.

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