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Have you ever noticed that a large percentage of motivational speakers are current or former professional athletes? There is a reason for that. Athletes have a very distinct way of building the energy of an audience and inspiring motivation and creativity. Their stories of overcoming all odds and becoming famous for their particular sport or skill set have a way of sparking adrenaline and excitement.

Professional athletes are an example of excellence. They show us that success is possible if we work hard, play hard and dedicate ourselves to our craft. It’s no wonder that there are so many movies about sports. The narratives portrayed by these films provide everything an audience wants: high stakes, grit, drama, action, and hope in the human ability to overcome adversity.

Whether or not you are a sports fan, there are many lessons from the world of professional athletics that can be applied to personal, daily life. Here are five of the biggest and most important lessons.

  1. Resilience can be learned and practiced. Resilience is the ability to adapt to or recover from difficult, stressful situations. It is well known that stress and trauma can have a significant negative impact on psychological and physical health. But studies have shown that individuals with high levels of resilience experience less negative impacts when going through stressful situations. Professional athletes are prime examples of resilience. They regularly face intense physical challenges, high pressure, and the threat of failure. They are able to channel their stress into their athletic performance and use it to succeed, instead of letting it get the best of them.
  2. It’s okay to fail. The thought of failing is terrifying, no matter your age, situation, or stage of life. It is something that many of us avoid and feel guilt and shame about when it does happen. The fear of failure can lead to anxiety, procrastination or perfectionism—which ironically can make failure more likely. That is why many experts in the mental health field recommend reorienting the narrative around failure and viewing it as something helpful and valuable. No one can teach this lesson better than professional athletes. In order to succeed in the world of sports, you have to fail time after time and learn how to pick yourself back up again. In fact, failure becomes an intrinsic part of the experience for professional athletes. If they miss a crucial pass or game-winning shot, they can’t throw in the towel. They have to keep going.
  3. Perfectionism can slow you down. Perfectionism can be a big challenge. It typically affects individuals who set high personal standards for themselves, or who are trying to adhere to high standards set by their families or cultures. Wanting to excel personally or professionally is an admirable goal. However, when the desire to do well becomes an obsession or prevents individuals from following through with daily activities, it can become a problem. In these cases, perfectionism can actually increase the chances of failure, which cyclically reinforces self criticism and can lead to a doubling down on perfectionist tendencies. Professional athletes can teach us a lot about managing perfectionism. They are examples of individuals who set high standards and work hard to accomplish their goals. However, they also know how to prevent perfectionism and the fear of failure from debilitating them.
  4. Discipline is key. Professional athletes are a source of inspiration for many, and some are even considered heroes. Pro athletes spend years of their lives in the spotlight as the world tracks their triumphs and defeats and witnesses the hard work and dedication that go into their craft. If discipline does not come naturally to you, you may find yourself struggling with sticking to commitments or developing routines and healthy habits. Athletes have a lot to teach us about how to build discipline so that we can achieve our dreams. They don’t expect to perfect their skills immediately. Instead, they set realistic goals and work incrementally to meet those goals with the help of trainers, coaches and teammates.
  5. Your health is your biggest asset. Athletes devote dozens of hours each week to maintaining their physical health. Not only do they follow strict diets that are nutrient-packed and can sustain them through tough workouts and games, but they also invest in their health through getting proper sleep and restoration time. When we push ourselves too hard, our health can suffer, which can derail our biggest hopes and dreams. Professional athletes teach us to be smart and take care of our bodies.

Athlete on Demand connects organizations with motivational sports celebrities for a range of events and speaking engagements. We empower current and retired professional athletes transitioning to entrepreneurship by eliminating middle men like booking agents and giving athletes more control over their business careers.