The Art and Sport of Business

I just moved into a new home a few weeks ago. The last time I moved was about six months ago and again about six months prior to that. I’m averaging a new home about once a year right now (thank you for being awesome about that, Sarah!). So, the question is why, right? Why build a 6,000 square foot house, move my wife and three kids, and pack up and unpack over and over again? I wouldn’t exactly call it fun. But neither is business. Neither is working out. Neither are a lot of things I’m passionate about. The fun comes in the challenge, the negotiations, the design, the skills it takes to execute a vision.

Really, above all else, for me it’s about the vision. It’s about being able to see something so clearly in my mind on a raw piece of dirt that no one else can see and then working through people to execute that vision and watch it come to life. I do this with tangible buildings, I do this with my team, I do this with my business at large. It’s an incredibly cool feeling to show up on a job site and see 40+ people there all working and you can literally see the vision coming to life. I get the same feeling walking into my company and seeing teams of people moving our company forward and growing my organization.  That’s why I love building new homes. That’s why I love business.

For me, designing and GCing a luxury home is both an art and a sport. I get to use my creativity in the design through the careful selection of lighting, flooring, trim, stone work, and more. I get to use my creativity designing floor plans and spaces where my family will make memories. Because it’s not really about the home, for me or my family. Our family life is rooted in experiences and building a new home and picking out new paint color with the kids or having an indoor picnic, is just that, an experience. Architecture, interior design, landscaping – it’s all an art. All an experience.

And art and sports aren’t mutually exclusive (thank you Glee for breaking those stereotypes!). Building a home is also a sport. Negotiating contracts, tight deadlines, the non-stop action to drive towards the ultimate goal of seeing how much added value I can bring to a piece of land and then sell for a nice profit. It feeds my competitive spirit.

So does business. You have to play in leadership constantly.  There is no other option then to be the owner, often the coach, and to build a team of star players. Probably the most exciting part is that business is an ever changing game. Once you’ve figured out the rules, something in the industry changes or better yet, you disrupt your company first before your competition ever can. Business building is competitive, often brutal. It’s an intellectual sport of innovation, team building, operations, deals, and leadership. The battle for rank and title and for building a legacy that lasts well beyond your human existence. It’s a game I’ll suit up for any day.

If business is your sport, then you have to focus on building a bench of people. Take football for example. There are only 11 players on the field at any time. But 53 players on the roster and 46 of them dress for the game. That’s like having three back-ups for every position on the team. Do YOU have that many team members or employees on the bench or in your organization? The concept for building a professional sports team is awesome. You’re never missing a player, you’re never out of the fight, because you have depth! And the crazy thing is, each team has several scouts looking for people to add to their bench for years. Scouts will start following athletes in middle school to watch their development, analyze their skills, and see how their character develops. Middle school! Most business owners or hiring managers throw out a job ad and hope to be able to secure top talent from the 10 resumes they receive. If you treat business like a sport, a big part of that is relentlessly scouting for talent and building a deep bench.

If business is your sport, then it means you eat, sleep, live, and breathe it. It’s why I work 60-80 hours a week “practicing” and honing my skills. Between reading, journaling, setting aside time to think and strategize, it’s all a deliberate practice designed to increase my leadership. Sure, some people will question your dedication and call it an obsession (it is and that’s not a bad thing!). They will ask why you don’t take more vacation time or why you’re at the office on a Saturday. But let me ask you this. Does anyone ever ask Tom Brady to take more vacation time? Does anyone expect Oprah or Tony Robbins to relax and take more time off? No. Because they are their business and their business is them. They play in it every day. So do I.

If business is your sport, then you have to practice the art of business daily. I’m talking about emotional intelligence, leadership, mastering behavior and personalities, casting a massive vision and inspiring others to follow. Navigating the complexities of people is definitely an art form! As a leader, you must understand the players on your team and how to get them all working together towards a common goal. Is this an art? Is this a sport? Both. I could compare a well-oiled team of employees to that of an orchestra or an NFL team. The sport is the competition and aggressive drive, the art is the finesse. You need both to build a business.

Is business your sport?

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