SPORTS Analogy: Realistic Goal Setting, Strategy and Tactics

Services for Real Estate Pros with John Henry Masterworks Design International, Inc. 13013

I played football for only a short while in high school.  I did not follow it after that.  I preferred baseball and basketball.  Sports is a good analogy to assess your abilities to 'play' any game or operate a business and to judge whether you will succeed.

Something is very clear in football: there is a goal marker on either side of the field.  The field is 100 yards long.  You have four chances to either run, kick or pass the ball and get it over that 100-yard distance.  There are boundaries and rules to play.

You score points for taking the ball across 100-yard line and the team that gets the most points in the end (a timed game)-- wins.  The team switches possession of the ball every four 'downs'.  Four tries to get the ball moved towards or over the goal, then it's the other team's turn.

The decision on what plays or maneuvers to make in each of those four chances is made by the quarterback.  The rest of the team understands their roles and act accordingly.  

That's the basic idea.  But what can we glean from this game?

Each side has a clear 'aim' to achieve: get the ball over the final yard marker on the opposite side or kick to clear the goal posts.  Each team member has a specific role and must act to further the 'aim' of the team, while fending off the opposing team (which has exactly the same 'aim' in mind).

A.  So in life or business, there are fixed 'goals' set by others to play 'their' game or some established routine that leads to an end, or it can be a 'game' or goal you wish to put in place. 

In order to get an academic degree, you must take courses and past tests to receive a diploma.  In order to win at basketball, you have to make more baskets in four 15 minute quarters than the opposing team.  In order to be a musician, you must practice daily and play more complicated pieces of music to expand your technique and repertoire.  In order to be a successful (conventional) professional, you must follow a program of education and day to day practice.  Years of experience or the quick application of skills and management mean that you can charge more for your services or products or that you can deliver them faster and better thus making more money at least.  Satisfaction gained from serving others well is also an intangible reward.

B.  To conclude: you must make realistic goals based on your personal abilities, have available time and resources to learn your craft or skill, and motivation to succeed.  There are always seemingly attractive shortcuts and quicker ways to 'make big bucks'.  A profession is not built on shortcuts though. 

You cannot achieve any goal by a lack of ability or means, by not taking the time to hone your competence or expertise, and by not motivating yourself to set a schedule and step by step program to achieve your goal.


There are three basic scenarios that will lead to failure:

1. Having a dreamy goal to be 'rich and famous' without the attendant means and effort -- which will not get you anywhere. 

2. You may have the means and goal in mind but do not wish to 'pay your dues'.  Same result: you cannot reach your goal.

3. You may have time and energy to make a go of it but do not have the necessary foundation to move forward or a clear goal in mind.  You will not succeed.


You may learn, after following one or two of the three activities above that something is not working and you are not getting closer to a level of achievement.  Many of us flounder after getting the foundation and do not continue to apply our skills.  

Get additional information and tactical knowledge from sources beyond the typical educational system.  A mentor may be ideal.  Seminars, articles, blogs, books, and private testimonials on cutting to the quick is also in order.


That's it. 


As I related in an earlier post, my sons were tall and motivated to play basketball.  They were encouraged by coaches who saw their potential.  The younger son found the pressure too much and quit in his Junior year in high school and eloped.  The older son pushed hard and realized in early college play that there were too many competitors who were much better than he was.  He could have stayed 'in the business' and coached or become a sports physician, etc.  But he switched tracks completely.


 Sports and music - the entertainment world - is a high stakes game where some early 'talent' can be whipped into stardom.  The risks are very high, the rewards high but the failure rate is astronomical.  Even with great motivation, but without superior ability and staying power, you cannot succeed.  And in these high reward big money enterprises there are, unfortunately, managers and agents - publishers and attorneys - who are there to cut out a huge part of the winnings.


In business, the road is clear on what needs to be done.  With preparation and motivation and ability you can 'make it'.  In sports games there is 'strategy' and so in business.  Strategy is developing a plan of action to achieve an aim.  Tactics is harnessing the available resources to follow and execute the strategy.  The rest is psychological.  You can call it a determination or will to succeed, self-motivation.  Think about the locker room talks coaches have with their players.  It is about motivation. 

TACTICS for Business

A. The quick break: see an opportunity and act quickly to get ahead

B. The fake: your competition will read you going in one direction while you take a better route to your goal

C. Full court press: resist your competition man to man, hold them at bay while you maneuver to your goal.

D. Forward pass: while the competition is rushing you, operate above and beyond their ability to block you, bypassing their strategy.

E. Steal the ball: while your competition is mismanaging their tactics, take the opportunity and position yourself to get your services contracted.

F.  Drafting: stay right behind the leader as he/she breaks through the pack and gain momentum, timing, and speed.

G.  Keep your head in the game: maybe one of the most important to keep in mind.  You cannot forget the game and be distracted or complacent.  You cannot 'set and forget'.  The game is ongoing and the players change and rules are altered, like laws.  Nothing is immutable.

H. Be flexible and adapt: Technology changes, the market changes, competition increases, resources may dwindle, politics and social mores affect how people think and act.  Keep on top of your game at all times.


The coxswain (or simply the cox) is the member who sits in the boat facing the bow, steers the boat, and coordinates the power and rhythm of the rowers - by communicating to the crew through a device called a cox box and speakers. (Wikipedia)

I.  If you are in charge: Keep your staff informed, educated, and motivated.  Make sure they respect you as you lead your company.  Reward them when they do well and coach them back when off track.


We are surrounded by competition who is mastering every possible way to brand and market goods and services to gain a larger and larger percentage of  'market share'.  The corporate companies have huge budgets and the small players are marginalized.  Creating your niche may be a way to overcome this disadvantage.  

Have you heard the idiom: "level the playing field"?  It is about playing by the same rules.  But the 'rules' in business can be broken in legal and illegal ways.  We have to watch out for those who are unscrupulous.


Right now, after ten or more years relying on digital methods, I see more opportunity and success in going back to the tried and true methods: personal contact and relationship building.  Physical and psychological persuasion through print ads, flyers, mailers, cold calls, etc.

That is not to say abandon the internet, social media, SEO, etc. -- because there is a coming generation that was babysat and raised with digital devices, and now believes in their use explicitly and operates day to day using mostly these methods alone and we need to use them also to make connections.  This generation actually prefers the text, email, and social media in many of their pursuits and entertainment over human interaction.

Digital media and communications is actually a cost-effective way of posting your business and marketing it.  The question is: how effective is it per hour and dollar vs. personal contact and physical advertising.


Best wishes for a positively motivated, strategically planned and tactically successful life and business~~~!

If you would like more ideas on strategy, tactics, and motivation by members of AR see the Mother Of All Blogs here!




And if you are motivated to build but don't have a strategy or tactical plans (blueprints!) you will need to consult an architect to create the best design for your investment, keeping in mind the many steps and items required to make your vision a reality.







Re-Blogged 4 times:

Re-Blogged By Re-Blogged At
  1. Roy Kelley 02/12/2019 01:00 AM
  2. Will Hamm 01/16/2019 06:09 PM
  3. Barbara Todaro 02/12/2019 01:31 AM
  4. Joyce Marsh 02/12/2019 06:50 AM
Real Estate Best Practices
setting realistic goals
strategy motivation and business tactics
business analogy to sports

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Michael Jacobs
Pasadena, CA
Los Angeles Pasadena 818.516.4393

Hello John - I did not participate much(as in NONE) sports in school or in fun but the analogies are still beneficial.  In ActiveRain and in life. Signed, the last one chosen for the team.  The learned lessons as well as the observations while sitting on the bench can be/are invaluable. 

Dec 03, 2018 06:56 AM #7
Roy Kelley
Realty Group Referrals - Gaithersburg, MD

You have packed much advice and and many recommendations in a single blog. Well done!


Dec 06, 2018 10:53 AM #8
Kathy Streib
Room Service Home Staging - Delray Beach, FL
Home Stager - Palm Beach County,FL -561-914-6224


                                           Thank you, John. 

Dec 08, 2018 05:45 PM #9
Dorie Dillard CRS GRI ABR
Coldwell Banker United Realtors® ~ 512.750.6899 - Austin, TX
Serving Buyers & Sellers in NW Austin Real Estate

Good morning John Henry,

I'm so glad that Kathy Streib featured your post in her "Ah" moments for the week! It was a lot to take in and a lot to walk away with. Your analogy's are so appropriate. In our family we have some wonderful athletes. My son was a competitive swimmer earned a scholarship to Clemson. He is a marathon runner and completed 2 Ironmen competitions. He is disciplined, a pro at setting and attaining goals. He is compassionate, a wonderful father, husband and son and a astute business man with his own real estate company. This all came about by having faith in his abilities, being loved and encouraged but most of all by keeping his mind and head in the game of both life and business. Yes he is a digital pro BUT he understands this business is a people business and his interaction and one on one face meetings are the best business. People love and respect him. They know what to expect everytime...the right thing to always be done! asset not everyone displays. Wonderful post John as always!

Dec 09, 2018 05:37 AM #10
Lottie Kendall
Compass - San Francisco, CA
Helping make your real estate dreams a reality

Hello John - I also found your post on this week's "ah ha moments" of Kathy Streib .

Your post is full of take-aways. This point rings especially true to me:

"you must make realistic goals based on your personal abilities, have available time and resources to learn your craft or skill, and motivation to succeed.  There are always seemingly attractive shortcuts and quicker ways to 'make big bucks'.  A profession is not built on shortcuts though. "

Dec 09, 2018 07:10 AM #11
Mike Cooper, GRI
Cornerstone Business Group Inc - Winchester, VA
Your Neighborhood Real Estate Sales Pro

John, there is a lot to unpack in there. Great tips for anyone who wishes to be in business.

Dec 09, 2018 01:48 PM #12
Kevin J. May
Florida Supreme Realty - Hobe Sound, FL
Serving the Treasure & Paradise Coasts of Florida

The greatest take away was "I see more opportunity and successi n going back to the tried and true methods" although it may not apply to sports as much as it does to business. It's a trend that's been growing for a decade or more.

Dec 09, 2018 02:35 PM #13
John Juarez
The Medford Real Estate Team - Fremont, CA

Your post is lengthy and covers a lot of ground.

One thing that I gleaned is that natural talent is a blessing that will take you only so far. Talent must be combined with hard work, training, goal setting and perseverance in order to be successful.

Dec 09, 2018 02:57 PM #14
Bruce Kunz
C21 Solid Gold Realty, Brick, NJ, 732-920-2100 - Howell, NJ
REALTOR®, Brick & Howell NJ Homes for Sale

WOW! So much to think about!

Analogies are a great way to relate. Very thoughtful presentation, John Henry which will be helpful in sorting out business future goals.


Dec 09, 2018 07:59 PM #15
Gene Mundt, IL/WI Mortgage Originator - FHA/VA/Conv/Jumbo/Portfolio/Refi
NMLS #216987, IL Lic. 031.0006220, WI Licensed. APMC NMLS #175656 - New Lenox, IL
708.921.6331 - 40+ yrs experience

Wow!  I'm blown away by the depth and magnitude of this article, John Henry ... congratulations on such a wonderful piece!  Being a sports fan (and old athlete), I enjoyed the message and analogies immensely ...


Dec 10, 2018 10:55 AM #16
Elisa Uribe Realtor #01427070
Golden Gate Sotheby's International - Oakland, CA
Opening the Doors to California Homes -East Bay

Hi John! Great Post! Definitely thought-provoking, realistic insights. Looking forward to your next blog!

Dec 10, 2018 01:14 PM #17
Kat Palmiotti
406-270-3667,, Broker, Blackstone Realty Group - brokered by eXp Realty - Kalispell, MT
The House Kat

Thanks for another in-depth and thought-provoking post. In our businesses, I agree that preparation, motivation, ability, strategy, tactics all play into success. Thank you.

Dec 11, 2018 04:29 AM #18
Georgie Hunter R(S) 58089
Hawai'i Life Real Estate Brokers - Haiku, HI
Maui Real Estate sales and lifestyle info

Shall we call this post a slam dunk? Congrats on another feature.

Dec 11, 2018 12:05 PM #20
Kimo Jarrett
WikiWiki Realty - Huntington Beach, CA
Pro Lifestyle Solutions

When you fail to plan, you plan to fail, yet not all plans are executable as you illustrated, regardless, great post.

Dec 12, 2018 02:08 PM #21
Barbara Todaro
RE/MAX Executive Realty - Franklin, MA
Marketing Agent for The Todaro Team

Good morning, John Henry business IS a sport for those who love to compete.... AR needs to wake up and keep those eyes open....they missed this one.... love the sports analogy....

Feb 12, 2019 01:28 AM #22
Sheila Anderson
Referral Group Incorporated - East Brunswick, NJ
The Real Estate Whisperer Who Listens 732-715-1133

Good morning John. This is superb. You thinking is on the mark in my view. 

Feb 12, 2019 04:36 AM #23
Michael J. Perry
KW Elite - Lancaster, PA
Lancaster, PA Relo Specialist

Our Goals are the top rung of the ladder . Without a well defined Action Plan ( the other/ lower rungs) , we will not make it to the Top !

Feb 12, 2019 05:25 AM #24
Beth Atalay
Cam Realty and Property Management - Clermont, FL
Cam Realty of Clermont FL

Good morning John Henry, great analogy. You've provided some great ideas. We're in the people business, they're still looking for human touch, the internet has not changed that. 

Feb 12, 2019 05:33 AM #25
Joyce Marsh
Regal | Christie's International Real Estate - Ormond Beach, FL
Regal Christie's International Real Estate

What a wonderful well written piece and an excellent choice for reading today. 

Feb 12, 2019 06:54 AM #26
Sharon Miller
RE/MAX Platinum - Crane Hill, AL


Great Post! Congrats!!!

I saw the following posted on the door leading to the indoor baseball batting practice facility my grandson attended and realized it was so good, concise "roadmap" for achieving success, regardless of one's endeavor.

                 "Hard Work Beats Talent, When Talent Doesn't Work Hard"

                             "Ability is what you are capable of doing."

                                "Motivation determines what you do."

                              "Attitude determines how well you do it."

Feb 12, 2019 07:52 AM #27
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