On the surface, it’s easy to understand why some view sports as simple games, things that provide a brief escape from everyday life and a way to stay active.
But whether you participated in competitive sports through high school or went on to lead a professional career as an athlete, one thing remains the same: those who grew up playing sports gain life lessons that transcend far beyond the playing surface.
In this article, we’ll break down what sports can teach that help people in the real world, particularly the world of franchising. 1851 Franchise caught up with Slim Chickens franchisee – and former athlete – Bill Hooks to provide insight on the topic.
Hooks, franchisee of two Slim Chickens location in Lincoln, NE, played baseball from childhood up until he graduated from college. In addition to managing his franchise locations, Hooks continues to help coach his daughter’s softball team.
1. Holding others accountable
A team will not have success unless all of its members are on the same page and agree to work towards a common goal. It’s important to be comfortable enough with your teammates to the point where you push them to be the best that they can be. In franchising, everyone from the franchisee to the general manager to the cashier has a role. With the franchisee essentially being the coach, they need to be able to let others know when they are not pulling their weight. In sports, teammates and coaches are constantly pushing each other.
“When you’re coaching a team, you learn to recognize weaknesses and make decisions that will ultimately allow success for everyone,” said Hooks. “I use this same approach at my Slim Chickens locations.”
2. Holding yourself accountable
With competitive, team sports, you learn to hold yourself accountable. If you’re ever not doing enough or make a mistake, it becomes clear that you need to improve for the good of the team. As a franchisee, you are the leader of a group – a team. If you make a mistake, it’s important to own up to it and take steps to ensure that it doesn’t happen again.
3. Trusting others
No one individual player makes the team. One superstar player will not be able to do everything on their own. A great teammate and franchisee knows that they need to be able to trust others to get things done. Trust is an essential part of a team’s success, and the same thing goes for franchises.
“Teamwork was the trait I learned that has helped me the most,” said Hooks. “It’s bigger than me in this business. You have to build a great team, train them right and then trust that things will be done the way you’ve taught them to be.”
4. Taking instruction
Again, no one is bigger than the team, even if you are the best player. There is always room for improvement, and the ability to take instruction and learn from others who have had success is a very important skill to have. Franchisees are working within a system that has had a proven track record of success. They have guidelines to follow being a part of a larger brand. The franchisees who have been involved in sports have a leg up in understanding the importance of this concept.
5. Knowing your role
Every player has a role on a team. Whether you are the star or a substitute, everyone on the team has responsibilities. Playing in team sports teaches people to understand the importance of roles and sticking to them. A franchisee with a background in sports fully understands this concept, and will not only stick to their role, but will help employees do the same thing to ensure a successful operation.
6. Having Patience
Every athlete or former athlete understands the importance of patience. Success does not come over night, and it is important to keep your mind focused on the big picture. Franchisees need to be patient, because even with a proven success model in place, growth takes time.
“As a coach, you learn how to game plan the big picture,” said Hooks. “You start to realize what makes the team successful and put those pieces together to develop the right combo over time.”
7. Having Endurance
Running a franchise on a daily basis can be a stressful task. Having experience playing a sport every day can help in staying focused and calm throughout.
“I also think you learn endurance in sports,” said Hooks. “When you factor in the length of games and focus that it takes to play a sport for 3-4 hours with few breaks, it’s actually pretty intense. That experience definitely helps me run my restaurants.”
8. Learning to lose, but always aiming to win
Losing is a part of sports. One of the most valuable things people can experience in life is some form of failure, because they then have the opportunity to learn from it. People can certainly learn a lot from having success, but the most successful people have also learned from some sort of failure. Franchisees who are former athletes will have the wherewithal to take a step back and correct a mishap having experienced the ups and downs that occur in sports.
“I do believe there’s an advantage for those in franchising who have a sports background,” said Hooks. “The advantage comes from the competitive nature that develops with sports. You never want to lose, and you are always pursuing the victory.”
9. Bringing results through hard work
Athletes quickly learn that in order to improve, they need to put in the work. Franchisees who are former athletes often take this mentality into the professional world and put in the work necessary to sustain success.
“The on-going practice it takes to be successful in sports is a huge factor in developing who I am today,” said Hooks. “The actual games are simply the results of the practice that you put in beforehand.”