Today’s post comes from Matt over at the Distilled Dollar. I have been following Matt’s blog as long as it has been around, if you are not a frequenter of his site you should go check it out! Easily has one of the coolest themes/logo! You can also follow him on twitter
Personal Finance Lessons from Professional Athletes
The best part about personal finance is that we don’t need to be in the top 1% of the top 1% of “financial gurus” to be successful. The same does not hold true in the world of professional sports, where even the top 1% of the top 1% will still fall short to even greater athletes.
While professional athletes are notorious for going bankrupt years after signing multi-million dollar contracts, I still find that athletes offer many valuable lessons on what it takes to achieve a large goal.
Achieving financial independence is an example of such a goal.
I love the post game interviews with athletes.
Here are guys on both sides, who typically have ‘left it all out there’, completely exhausted and still trying to catch their breath. What surprises me in these interviews, is how often you see how clear their focus is towards their sport. Complete, unrelenting focus in the face of countless potential distractions.
Most athletes in our society benefit from money, fame, extreme athletic ability, huge support systems, etc. Their opportunities are practically limitless, but instead, they’re consistently focusing 100% of the time on the next game a few days away.
The first time I learned this lesson was watching basketball star, Kobe Bryant, take the Los Angeles Lakers to win the NBA Finals. During the season, every loss had a post game interview where he would describe the lessons learned. He would describe how the loss allowed them to see where the pieces were and where they needed to come together for the playoffs.
The defeats they suffered in the moment were seen as building blocks towards a greater victory down the road.
Similarly, I believe personal finance involves much pain at first as we need to observe our circumstances with an honest clarity.
Only once we understand our debts and where our money is going, are we then able to begin the process of improving.
From my perspective, I’ve made plenty of mistakes where I’ve lost money in the past by spending it wastefully or failing to invest earlier. The perspective of athletes has been to look back on your mistakes, improve what you can and move on. In other words, look back, but don’t stare.
Even when the final game of the season is played, athletes will openly discuss what they plan on doing in the offseason. These types of interviews might be hard to come by because 99% of the media attention is placed on the victors who are seen celebrating and throwing parties.
Once the champions start to talk about their pre-season prep, the media interviews essentially disappear.
I believe this same description applies to people who are wise about their time and money. We see them glorified at the top, spending money on lavish cars or expensive yachts. What we don’t see is an inside look into the attitude and habits that they’ve had for decades to get to where they are today.
Each season in the end represents its own microcosm of events.
There can be spectacular plays within a game, but the highlights will be hollow if the final result is an end to the season. A recent interview from this past weekend came when Xherdan Shaqiri scored what may be the goal of the tournament in the European Championships against Poland. In the post game interview Xherdan claimed it was of course an especially important goal for him to score, but he didn’t take another breath before reminding everyone that the end result was a loss and he was very disappointed to be going home.
We can take a moment to acknowledge a victory, but we should never lose sight of the bigger picture.
Do you find the same value in the post game interviews than I do? Do you copy any of the habits or attitudes from some of your favorite athletes?