Tim Tebow’s first season as a starting quarterback came to an end this weekend in the playoffs against the New England Patriots. I don’t know if Tebow will be a long-term starting quarterback in the NFL or not. Regardless, there is a lot to like about Tebow and a lot that entrepreneurs or aspiring startups can learn from him.
1) Ability to drown out criticism. Even before Tebow declared for the NFL draft the noise around his ability to play in the NFL was loud and critical. It only intensified as he moved from backup quarterback to starter this season. As an entrepreneur your idea, your timing and your ability to execute will be criticized. Entrepreneurs have to develop the ability to separate the noise from the substance, always listening to improve but never listening to be discouraged.
2) Strong work ethic. Tebow is normally the first guy at practice and the last guy to leave. He works out with the lineman, often benching and powerlifting alongside them. He studies game film late into the evening, calling his coaches after 10pm with questions. As an entrepreneur there are a lot of things that will come your way that you can’t control but the one thing you are always in control of is your own personal effort. Your company may not succeed, but don’t let if fail for lack of hustle.
3) Inspires confidence in others. “A good leader inspires people to have confidence in the leader, a great leader inspires people to have confidence in themselves.” – Eleanor Roosevelt. At every level, Tim has inspired the best in those around him. (And not just players on the field but people fighting illness, disabilities and other obstacles are inspired by Tebow). Maybe that’s why he’s been able to succeed at every level as a quarterback with only marginal football skills. Growing and scaling a business is a team sport. When your company is just getting started people will look to you for confidence. It’s your job to bring out the best in them and teach them to believe in themselves.
4) Loves to compete and win. John Fox, Tebow’s coach, refers to it as his “competitive greatness.” Tebow doesn’t slide into a first down, he lowers his head and runs over people. He may be a gentle spirit off the field but he’s a giant presence of a competitor when he’s on the field. Business is the most competitive sport in the world. Today we are competing against people from all over the world and all different ages. If you’re sliding into first downs then it’s time to turn the company over to someone else or to dissolve it gracefully.