As I’ve experienced my adult life, I’ve held a few different jobs and also started my own coaching and consulting business. I have worked on teams, led teams, and been mentored and managed. While “adulting,” I’ve realized that many of my most valuable assets and characteristics have come from my childhood – from my time playing sports.

As a successful athlete, you acquire certain traits. Day in and day out, I spent hours at the swimming pool and in the weight room doing countless laps and reps. Weekend after weekend I was competing, committing, and working towards the lofty goals I had set for myself.

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Being an athlete boils down to mindset.

Athletes make great employees. That’s because they possess valuable qualities that have been honed into something special for the workplace; hard work, leadership, commitment, and the ability to manage time. These characteristics are fostered and developed from athletics, but not restricted to sport. They are proven on the practice field, but realized in business every day.

Your playing field is your office. It’s the boardroom. It’s on stage. On a conference call or in the countless hours spent at a computer with spreadsheets. It’s about who you are and how you go about your work. What defines you isn’t necessarily an experience, but what you embody from those experiences.

Regardless of your playing field, if you exhibit these four characteristics, you are an athlete:

1. Mindset

It’s all about the mindset. When I really dig into all the characteristics of an athlete, this one leads the pack. Your mindset is what helps you see what you want and what it takes to go after it. This is what differentiates the mediocre from the exceptional.

2. Drive

I’d like to say determination, but there is a distinct drive in most athletes. It’s something in your head that pushes you to take chances, work a little bit longer, and spend a little more time on a project. For me, it’s a clear voice. It’s what tells me to get up at 4am and that there is little time to waste in order to achieve my goals.

3. Competition and competitiveness

Innate in athletes, this is difficult to turn off.

Whether it’s in business or at the gym, it’s a part of achieving success. In business it takes a different form: First to market, best product, the most sales. Competition is inherently a part of business and propels the workplace each day.

4. Feedback

Athletes thrive on feedback. I think back to some of the most critical times in my careers – athletically or in the workplace – and am grateful for the feedback I received. Whether it’s from a coach, boss, manager, or teammate, athletes are always looking for ways to get better, and feedback is an essential part of that process. Embracing it, welcoming it and using it, are all keys to growth and success.

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People who participate in sports go on to enjoy professional success.

Likewise, an individual isn’t only an athlete if they play a sport. An athlete comes from within and the way in which you show up and execute.

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