Playing in Pain – What Business Owners Can Learn from Sports Legends

I saw a great “photo essay” at Sports Illustrated yesterday inspired by Tiger Wood’s recent victory.  It captured the moments where 24 sports greats such as basketball star Michael Jordan, Olympic medalist Kerri Strug, and baseball pitcher Curt Schilling played and WON when they were suffering great pain.

Reading this article made me think about the times in my career when I have pushed myself when I was sick and seen it pay off. On the other hand, for me, no success is worth causing myself permanent injury. So finding the right balance is key. When do you push?

What’s the Payoff?:

In just about all the examples listed, there was a lot on the line. The times players pushed themselves when they were in pain were for World Series, World Cups, the Olympics, etc.

So, if there is nothing special going on with your business, it might make sense to call in sick, or stay home as long as you need to to fully recovery from your surgery, etc. However, if a deal you have been working towards all year is coming down, you might want to consider making a strong show of your commitment, gritting your teeth, and “playing your hardest.”

What’s the risk?:

There area few types of risks involved: 1) What are the risks to your business if you don’t “play”, and 2) What are the risks to your health if you do?. A third point is that you don’t want to get other people sick either.

Remember, you have to look at the big picture, getting back in the “game”, even the business game, can render a surgery useless and can require a second one. If you meet with a top client when you have the flu, they might be less impressed if they are home sick a week later.

Do you have what it takes?:

Before you make a great sacrifice and work hard when you are in pain, think about it and decide if you actually are able to function. If you are someone who can grit your teeth and get the job done, then go for it. But if you’ll just screw up and make everyone wish you had stayed home, then it is a useless and counter-productive sacrifice. No one wants to work with a martyr – they want to work with a hero. If you can’t be the hero, stay home until you are feeling up to it.

My advice?:

As I wrote earlier, look at the big picture, the risks, the payoff and your capabilities. But the best rule of thumb? Stay healthy!

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