Athletes and Business Leaders

10 Common Traits

The Well-Built Triathlete by Matt Dixon purplepatch fitness

Business leaders and professional athletes share similar mind-sets.  This isn’t surprising because elite performance requires plenty of determination.  The gift of physical talent is certainly the ticket to get into the room, but it is these characteristics of performance that help drive the talent toward real and lasting success.  – Matt Dixon; The Well-Built Triathlete, Turning Potential Into Performance

I’m a triathlete.  Why?  Because it’s hard. 

When I first started going to the gym, I got bored.  There is nothing more boring to me than getting up at 5:30 in the morning, putting on shorts and a t-shirt to going to lift weights or run on a treadmill for an hour.  When my Dr. told me that I needed to lose weight I joined the gym, but I was so bored after just 3 weeks I almost quit. 

It was then that I realized something about myself.  I need a goal.  Not just any goal.  For me to stay interested and motivated over a long period of time I need a specific, measurable and most importantly a lofty goal.  In short, I need what Jim Collins, author of “Good to Great” and other business case studies calls a Big Hairy Audacious Goal (BHAG).

So, I decided I was going to run a half-ironman triathlon before I’m 50.  I’m 47 now so I’ve got about 2 and half years to go.  After that I just might shoot for a full ironman but one BHAG at a time. 

As part of my triathlon journey I’ve been studying up on the science and technology of athletic training.  Reading a lot and listening to podcasts.  One of the surprising things I’ve noticed is that there are an incredible number of parallels between athletes and business leaders.    

With the help of Matt Dixon’s book, I have identified at least 10 common traits.  Here they are in no particular order:

1 – Be goal-oriented

All top performers, be they athletes or business leaders, have a clear and distinct vision.  Goals may evolve over a career or a lifetime but you can’t achieve positive results without creating and then chasing a vision or set of goals.

2 – Commit to ongoing assessment

Staying on track is key and the best performers are great at personal reflection and self-assessment.  But they also aren’t afraid to look for outside guidance and advice.  It takes courage to regularly assess yourself and let others give you advice.  It takes even more courage to make the necessary changes to your approach. 

3 – Train for specificity

Great athletes have the ability to develop laser-like focus and carve through the noise to execute their plan.  Great business leaders do the same.

4 – Be resistant to adversity

Managing and overcoming adversity is a major shared trait between business leaders and athletes.  It’s not going to be a smooth ride, things will come up that threaten to derail your journey and navigation through hard times is the price of admission.

5 – Have patience

You have noticed I’ve been using the word “journey” to describe the path to success?  I do that because it doesn’t happen instantaneously.  Behind every overnight success is many, many years of hard work.  Patience is a key attribute of every elite performer.

6 – Feed the passion

Achieving good results leads to a high that is unparalleled, but the high doesn’t last long and it won’t create the will to embrace the struggle.  You have to fall in love with the process as much as the results to excel.

7 – Embrace support

No athlete or business leader can go it alone.  No one has all the answers, the best performers are humble and spend time building an inner circle of experts who help drive the bus and maximize performance.  Mentors, guides and a strong support team are common to elite performers across all disciplines.

8 – Achieve balance

Avoid dwelling on either failure or success.  Celebrate victories but keep your emotions in check – yesterday’s achievement can quickly disappear and be forgotten in the face of new challenges.  Life goes on, tomorrow always dawns with a clean slate regardless of what was written yesterday.


9 – Take calculated risks

A willingness to take risks comes in many forms.  It most often involves a willingness to expose your weaknesses and being unafraid of failure.  The best performers are willing to take risks with a purpose to strive for the next level. 

10 – Make time for recovery

Establish a strong platform of health and recovery.  You only have one body and if you don’t take care of it, it will fail you.  Learn to appreciate the value of recovery and recuperation, get enough sleep, eat right, and don’t neglect your family and fiends, they are the people who will be there for you long after you have achieved everything you set out to do and are enjoying the fruits of your labors. 


I’d like to hear from any other athletes/business leaders out there if there are any other common traits I may have missed, let me know in the comments. 

Thanks, see you at the finish line – Lauren

Run All The Way!

Have you ever watched a baseball game and seen a player give up on a play before it was over?

Watch this video for an example of what I’m talking about…

Sports bloopers are funny but when you really stop and think about it most of these errors are the result of players, who get paid millions of dollars playing a kid’s game, giving up too early.

When I was a kid I played both T-Ball and Softball just about every summer until I was 14.  One thing the coaches always drilled into us was the need to run out a play all the way to the end.

If it looks like you’re going to be out, keep running, you never know if the other player will drop the ball or miss the tag.  If it looks like a ball is going to drop or the runner is going to beat the throw, keep running, you never know what the other players are going to do.

I’ve carried this lesson into my professional life.

I work ten hours a day, five days a week.  My goal for every weekday is to hold two meetings, reach out to forty contacts, and send 5 cold emails.  On the weekends I spend time with family and friends, go to church, and do research.

Some days, I can get all my work done quicker than others.  On the days I’m done early I keep reaching out, sending more emails and booking more meetings because you never know when you are going to have a day that you don’t get anything accomplished.

But just as often I get toward the end of the day and it looks like I will fail in my goals.  On those days I keep pushing right up until quitting time, which for me is 7:00 pm.  I “run all the way” because you never know who’s going to pick up the phone or respond to that email at 6:59 pm.

Last Friday was a perfect case in point.  I had been out most of the day meeting with clients and had only managed to reach out to 33 contacts.  It was late, and to be fair, on Fridays I do tend to quit early.  But I hadn’t reached my goals and had only booked one meeting so far.  Three calls later, on my 36th reach out, 5 minutes before quitting time I got a prospect on the phone.  We talked for a few minutes and then he said, “It’s Friday afternoon, why don’t we continue this conversation over coffee in my office next week?”

I could have given up 3 calls before I dialed that guy’s number.  But because I am committed to running all the way I kept going and as a result I booked that meeting and reached my goal for the day.

So that’s all I’ve got for you today.  I hope you are as inspired to “Run All The Way” as I am!

Tell me a story in the comments below of a time when you ran all the way, or failed to, and what the results were.  I look forward to hearing from you.

I love watching sports bloopers too, feel free to send me your favorites and give me a laugh.

L C Sheil writes regularly about, spirituality, life and business coaching.  He is the founder and director of The Matthew 5:5 Society (formerly The Meekonomics Project) where he coaches ministry and business leaders to Live Life to the Fullest in Complete Submission to the Will of God. 

Mr. Sheil has authored two books and is available for public speaking and one on one coaching in the areas of work life balance,  finding and living your core values  and financial literacy.  Write to The Matthew 5:5 Society here for more information or follow L C Sheil on twitter and instagram.  


I’m not a basketball fan.

Truth be told I’m not really a rabid fan of any sport.  I watch the odd game here and there and I’m not above getting swept up in a bandwagon when my local teams go on a winning streak, but I wouldn’t call myself a loyal sports fan.

What I am a fan of is the relentless pursuit of excellence.

To many basketball fans the number twenty-three is the embodiment of these values.  Michael Jordan wore the number twenty-three from 1979 at Laney High School, all the way through college at North Carolina State and for the Chicago Bulls and Washington Wizards of the NBA from 1984-2003.   He won the NCAA tournament with North Carolina, was the 1985 NBA rookie of the year, won 6 NBA championships and 2 Olympic Gold medals, was named to the NBA All-Star team 14 times, and was named to the NBA’s 50th anniversary all-star team in 1996.

Michael Jordan is arguably the greatest basketball player of all time.

However; in 1978 he was cut from his high school team because he was too short.   In the 1984 college draft he was selected 3rd overall having been passed over by both the Houston Rockets and Portland Trailblazers for Hakeem Olajuwon and Sam Bowie respectively.  While Olajuwon had a respectable NBA career, playing 18 seasons for Houston and Toronto and winning two NBA championships, Bowie never lived up to his potential and retired after just 11 seasons with Portland, New Jersey and Los Angeles.

Jordan rarely led the league in any statistically category other than wins.  It is true that he was the scoring champion for 10 seasons but a closer look at that stat reveals that he also led the league in missed shots all 10 of those years as well.  His actually field goal percentage was only 30% over his entire career.

What made Michael Jordan the greatest basketball player of all time wasn’t his innate ability as much as it was his drive to achieve greatness.  The way I see it we can all learn a thing or two from Michael Jordan.

1 – Don’t Give Up Too Easily

How different would his life, and indeed the history of both North Carolina State, the NBA and the city of Chicago have been had he given up when he was cut from the team in 1978?  No one will ever know.  And you don’t know what the future holds for you either.  Set-backs are a part of life.  Hold on to your dreams and don’t give up too easily.

2 – Listen to the Experts

Throughout his high school, college and early NBA career Michael Jordan was widely regarded as a coach’s dream.  His number one desire was to get better and he would listen to advise and apply lessons learned in every situation.  No one has reinvented the wheel in business, there is always someone who has been down this road before.  If you are willing to seek them out and learn from them chances are you will be better for it.

3 – Work Harder Than Anyone Else

Not only did Michael Jordan listen to and take direction from his coaches he also sought out and hired personal coaches and trainers to work with on the side.  Legend has it that the night he won his 4th NBA title Jordan saw his personal trainer in the stands, as he was walking off the court he looked up and said; “I’ll see you in the gym tomorrow.”  Not even winning could stop Jordan’s desire to be better.

Which brings me to the last point…

4 – Never Settle

Winning is fun.  We should all strive to win and achieve at whatever we set our minds to but once we’ve won this prize or achieved that goal there is always something more.  “What’s next?”, is the question most prevalent on the mind of winners.

I’m not a basketball fan but I am a Michael Jordan fan.  His number twenty-three hangs in the rafters of the United Center in Chicago for good reason but he’s still not done.  Even though his playing days are over, as the owner of the NBA’s Charlotte Hornets, Jordan is in pursuit of his seventh NBA title.  I for one wouldn’t bet against him achieving that goal one day too.

What does your relentless pursuit of excellence look like?  Let me know in the comments below.

Goals and Resolutions – 2018 Version

Every year around this time I sit down and work on my goals for the coming year.  Not New Year’s Resolutions per say but a handful of things that I plan to do on a regular basis over the course of the year to reach my major goals.

It’s a two-step process.

In accordance with the second of Steven Covey’s famous Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, I begin with the end in mind.   What are my major goals for 2018?

1 – Complete an Olympic Distance Triathlon

The Olympic Triathlon is the official distance run at the Olympic games and is approximately one quarter of an Iron Man.  It consists of a 1500 m swim, 40 km bike and 10 km run.  World class athletes can generally complete an Olympic Tri in about 2 hours.  The world record is 1:39:50, set at the World Championships in Cleveland Ohio in 1996.  That record has stood for over 20 years and is the stuff of legend in the Triathlon community.  I’ll be happy if I complete my Olympic Tri in under 4 hours.

2 – Finish my Third Book

My first two books came relatively easily to me.  I poured a lot of pent up energy into those books.  My third effort has been quite a bit harder.  I’ve been writing a book on Leadership for about 3 years now and it’s just not working.  Probably because I don’t really have a lot of experience in leadership.  I’m more the solopreneur type so writing about leadership seems a bit disingenuous.  I have several other books sketched out so I’m going to return to my favourite topic – behavioural economics, and work on something along those lines.  I’ve also started writing a memoir of sorts, maybe that could be something, we’ll see, keep an eye out here for more information as these projects grow.

3 – Develop the Financial Coaching Aspect of my Practice

The Meekonomics Project, (financial coaching) has been near and dear to my heart and my plans since the very beginning.  For the past six years I’ve focussed on building my financial practice along traditional lines, Life Insurance and Investments for the family market, Disability Insurance and Group Health Plans for businesses and business owners.  But that’s not where my heart is.  I have a passion for the poor, disadvantaged and victims of predatory lenders.  The Meekonomics Project is my assault on the PayDay Lending industry and stewardship planning for the working poor.

4 – Grow my practice to $85,000 in gross income

Two years ago, I made $74,000, and I thought I was on my way.  The next year I struggled to make $60,000 and this year I will make about $66,000.  These past two years have been hard.  I made a few mistakes, missed a few opportunities and got drawn off on some tangents.  To hit these goals, I need to remain focused and learn to filter out the noise that could pull me off track.

So those are the major goals.  But how are we going to get there?

Covey’s third habit is to put first things first.  In other words, work backwards from the end goal and figure out what to do next.  As a result, I have figured out five daily goals that are going to move me closer to the four major goals every single day.

1 – Go to the Gym for an hour at least 3 days a week  

There are several different triathlon training programs on line.  Most of them say that you can train for an Olympic Tri in about 10 weeks.  They all require at least six days a week in the gym, but I don’t have that kind of time.  I’m pretty sure I can modify a program to work over a 3 day cycle and be ready to complete the distance in about 20 weeks.  In fact, I’ve been working on this for a few months already and should be ready to complete the distance by April.  If I do, great, if not I will save eight months to work on it and hit the goal by the end of the year.  I’ll let you know how it goes.

2 – Spend 30 minutes in prayer and meditation every day

Now I know what you’re thinking.  Why isn’t this the number one priority?  If I was a good Christian boy nothing should take precedence over spending time in prayer, but hear me out.

This list is semi-chronological, and I have learned from experience that if I get up early and do anything other than get out he door and go the gym, it’s not going to happen.  Therefore, for the three days that I plan to go and train for the triathlon, nothing else happens until I can check that off the list.  That being said; my 30 minutes of prayer is the only thing that I am committing to doing every single day.  It keeps me grounded and on point for the rest of the day.

There is a lot more I could say about the importance of connecting with a higher power, however you define it, but I think maybe I’ll save that for another post.  For now, I’ll just say this, releasing my stresses and worries to the God of the universe while at the same time expressing my hopes and dreams and confessing my short comings is incredibly relaxing.   Starting my day in a state of peace and relaxation is the best way I’ve yet found to remain centered, balanced and calm.

3 – Reach out to 40 Individual Clients and Prospects each work day

Working backwards from my goal of making $85,000 this year I need to make approximately 2 new sales per week.  Decades of statistical research in the insurance and investment industry has proven that it takes 5 face-to-face appointments for every sale.  Many of those appointments are simple policy reviews and service calls that don’t necessarily lead to anything new and of those that do require additional services it usually takes 3 or 4 meetings to move someone from prospect to client.  That means I need at least 10 appointments a week.

The same research has show that it takes approximately 20 client “touches” to book an appointment.  Again, many of those touches are simple check in calls or emails that don’t necessarily lead to a meeting right away.  All of this to say that I need to reach out to 200 clients and prospects a week to book 10 appointments.  Broken down over the course of a 5-day workweek that amounts to 40 unique “touches” per day.

4 – Initiate 5 Cold Introductions to new Prospects each work day

This is the law of attrition.  If I’m reaching out to 40 individual clients and prospects each work day it stands to reason that a percentage of those prospects are going to be non-responsive or say they aren’t interested.  All that research about the number of sales and the number of meetings also says that a little better than 10% of your prospects will die on the vine.   So, to keep the numbers consistent I need to be reaching out to 5 new prospects every day.

5 – Write 500 words or film 2 minutes of video each work day

I’m a writer and writers write, ‘nuff said.

Not everything I write will be worth publishing and not every piece of video I record will make it out of my phone but like training for a triathlon the daily discipline will help to improve the final results and hopefully lead to a lot more content on my blog and another book.

500 words is approximately one typewritten page and takes less than 2 minutes to read, the perfect length for a blog post.  2 minute videos get more views than 20 minute videos.  It’s about accessibility, short sweet and too the point, that’s what a blog or vlog should be.  Save the longer thoughts and more detailed analysis for the books.

This combination of major goals and daily goals aren’t exactly New Years Resolutions.  They are more like an execution plan.  I do have a few resolutions tough.  These are simple tweaks to my personality designed to boost my productivity, social capital and emotional connections.

1 – Just Do It

Procrastination is the enemy of productivity.  If a job takes less than 5 minutes to complete it should be completed immediately.  If it takes less than 15 minutes to complete it should be completed by the end of the day.  If it takes more than 15 minutes to complete make an appointment to work on it before the end of the week.

2 – Smile   

Happy people are proven to be more successful people, especially in sales and customer centric industries like financial services.  Even if you don’t feel happy, smiling has been proven to trick your brain into thinking you are happier and so becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. Smiling puts people at ease and increases your credibility so that they like you more.

3 – Say Yes as much as possible

Defaulting to yes, even when it’s a yes, but or a yes, and is far better than saying no.  In difficult situations, starting with yes makes you appear as though you are a problem solver even when the eventual outcome is not what was originally desired.  Saying yes is collaborative, while no is confrontational.

So, there you have it.  My goals and resolutions for 2018.  What do you think? Do you have goals or resolutions?  I’d love to hear them, please comment back.

Quick Tip #24 – The Value of An Advisor

There are a number of reasons why working with a financial security advisor can help you achieve your investment goals. A financial security advisor can take a holistic approach to your planning to ensure you have the right mix of strategically selected assets in your portfolio. The sooner you start, the more time you’ll have to beat inflation to help you achieve your short- and long-term goals. With the help of a financial security advisor and by investing in professionally managed funds, you can benefit from:

  • The expertise of professional investment managers with professionally managed funds
  • Broad diversification that’s not always possible when you invest on your own
  • Ongoing reporting, through regular statements, of your investments to help you track their performance and complete necessary tax reporting.

Quick Tip #20 – The Value of an Advisor

There are a number of reasons why working with a financial security advisor can help you achieve your investment goals. A financial security advisor can take a holistic approach to your planning to ensure you have the right mix of strategically selected assets in your portfolio. The sooner you start, the more time you’ll have to beat inflation to help you achieve your short- and long-term goals. With the help of a financial security advisor and by investing in professionally managed funds, you can benefit from:

  • The expertise of professional investment managers with professionally managed funds
  • Broad diversification that’s not always possible when you invest on your own
  • Ongoing reporting, through regular statements, of your investments to help you track their performance and complete necessary tax reporting.

Quick Tip #10 – The Value of An Advisor

As your partner in achieving your goals, I’ll work with you to help you make informed decisions about your financial future. Life is full of unexpected changes. I can help you understand from a financial perspective what you can expect, your options to handle unexpected financial situations, and the risks and benefits associated with the decisions you make.