25 Business Tips From the World’s Best Coaches

Great sports teams are generally led by top coaches who empower and inspire players to practice, to work as a unit, to overcome adversity and to care about winning.

Business is no different – it’s a team sport. Just as visionary coaches unite sports teams with their guidance and inspiration, the best business leaders serve as coaches to help team members realize their individual and team potential.

Here are some of my favorite quotes from leading coaches in the world of sports that may be valuable to company, division or project leaders in business.

Helping Others Maximize Their Potential

1. “A good coach will make his players see what they can be rather than what they are.” – Ara Parseghian

2. “Don’t measure yourself by what you have accomplished, but by what you should have accomplished with your ability.” – John Wooden

3. “Treat a person as he is, and he will remain as he is. Treat him as he could be, and he will become what he should be.” – Jimmy Johnson

4. “My father gave me the greatest gift anyone could give another person; he believed in me.” – Jim Valvano

5. “I won’t accept anything less than the best a player’s capable of doing, and he has the right to expect the best that I can do for him and the team.” – Lou Holtz

The Power of Practice and Preparation

6. “The will to win is meaningless without the will to prepare.” – Joe Gibbs

7. “Practice does not make perfect. Only perfect practice makes perfect.” – Vince Lombardi

8. “One man practicing sportsmanship is far better than 50 preaching it.” – Knute Rockne

9. “A coach is someone who can give correction without causing resentment.” – John Wooden

10. “I don’t think I was a fine game coach… I think I was a good practice coach.” – John Wooden

11. “One day of practice is like one day of clean living. It doesn’t do you any good.” –Abe Lemons

12. “It’s not the will to win that matters – everyone has that. It’s the will to prepare to win that matters.” – Paul “Bear” Bryant

Commitment to Winning

13. “There are only two options regarding commitment. You’re either in or you’re out. There is no such thing as life in-between.” – Pat Riley

14. “Winning isn’t everything, but wanting to win is.” – Vince Lombardi

15. “Some people believe football is a matter of life and death. I’m very disappointed with that attitude. I can assure you it is much, much more important than that.” – Bill Shankly

16. “If you are bored with life, if you don’t get up every morning with a burning desire to do things – you don’t have enough goals.” – Lou Holtz

17. “You need to play with supreme confidence, or else you’ll lose again, and then losing becomes a habit.” – Joe Paterno

18. “If you make every game a life and death proposition, you’re going to have problems. For one thing, you’ll be dead a lot.” – Dean Smith

Perseverance and Determination

19. “Never give up! Failure and rejection are only the first step to succeeding.” – Jim Valvano

20. “The difference between the impossible and the possible lies in a man’s determination.” – Tommy Lasorda

21. “People of mediocre ability sometimes achieve outstanding success because they don’t know when to quit. Most men succeed because they are determined to.” –George Allen

22. “The vision of a champion is someone who is bent over, drenched in sweat, at the point of exhaustion, when no one else is watching.” – Anson Dorrance

Caring, Empowerment and Leadership

23. “The only thing worse than a coach or CEO who doesn’t care about his people is one who pretends to care. People can spot a phony every time.” – Jimmy Johnson

24. “Leadership is getting someone to do what they don’t want to do, to achieve what they want to achieve.” – Tom Landry

25. “Leadership is a matter of having people look at you and gain confidence, seeing how you react. If you’re in control, they’re in control.” – Tom Landry

It’s little wonder that these quotes come from some of the winningest coaches of all time across many sports and many eras. The best and most enlightened business leaders – while perhaps less quoted or quotable – live by the same principles.

By Joel Peterson