We won the national championship! That was one of the best days of my life but now as we all look back, it wasn’t that one win that made the moment great, it was the journey. There were so many leadership lessons learned on and off the field hockey field that helped drive everyone to want to win, but to win as a team.

5 things I learned:

Differentiate Yourself

Everyone is the same, that’s how I felt that first week. You are mediocre so you better push yourself more than the other gal. The first day of college I sat in one of my teammates dorm to just hear each of us share our accolades. Each of us were all-county, all-state, team captain, top scorer and on, and on, and on. What did it mean? It meant we were the same, starting at the same point, no one was better than the other. I had to use any advantage I could to differentiate myself. This is the most humbling experience knowing that you are playing amongst the best and trying out against this group.

This is the same in business, you want to leverage your unique skills to succeed.

Work hard

Just because you made the team last year doesn’t mean you will make it again. So as the saying goes, hard work pays off. Every summer I had to work twice as hard to make sure I secured a spot on the team. My dedication paid off each year, maybe out of fear or want, I worked out each day, doing more than was expected.

This is the same in business, working hard always pays off but don’t rest, keep going.

Want to Win

We all wanted to win. And we wanted to win together. No one was selfish, we all had a job and we wanted to do the best we could. Our coach recruited a top goal scorer to come to our college. This girl’s purpose was to score goals – that’s it. I believe our coach was a bit nervous that the team would be jealous because she may take away the spotlight on some of us. That didn’t happen, we welcomed her and she helped us win that title game. We wanted to win and we knew we need someone like her to help make it happen. It wasn’t about one of us, it was about what was important to the team.

This is the same in business, if you are missing an expertise, find out and bring it into your organization.

Fail but turn it into a lesson

We got caught doing something we shouldn’t have been doing. We were college kids being stupid. Well our coach benched us and it cost us the game. Yes, she thought it was more important to teach us a lesson vs. have us play and win. That doesn’t happen too much today, it was always about something bigger than ourselves.

This is the same in business, if you fail, you need to learn and move on.

Give back

We had to give back, we had to volunteer our time for our community and help the special olympics. I’ll be honest, there were Sunday nights in college when I just wanted to relax but had to get up and coach our kids. It was always worth it. They completely appreciated our team coming to help. While they were always thanking us, supporting us at our games and writing us notes…the one’s who benefited were my teammates and I.

This is the same in business, while winning may be the prize, giving back and being socially responsible is just as important.

After all of these years, those lessons will be with me always. Playing collegiate level field hockey has taught me more than classroom work. It has taught me the ability to win, work hard, keep fighting, keep learning, keep practicing, work as a team and more.

*This is a post from 2016 that I wrote for LinkedIn