I may get into trouble for saying this, but I love sports analogies, especially the ones that relate to running a construction company or a jobsite. Make no mistake about it, construction is a team sport that demands training, practice, discipline, coordination, and a clear game plan. Competition is tough, and setting up for work every day is like taking the field at game time. You'd better be ready. A well-run team consists of people who are clear about their positions, know the plays, and execute their assignments. But it takes leadership to bring it all together. You and your team may settle for the occasional come-from-behind win, but nobody wins in the long run if you play under that kind of pressure all the time. How well you lead will determine how well your team plays, and that will be the measure of your success in this business, because you won't make money with sloppy teamwork.

Don't get me wrong here. I'm not pretending to be one of those new-age business gurus who picks up a new buzzword or trendy philosophy and pounds it into your head until you find your "inner builder." And I'm not a retired hard-core military man who will help you set up "operations" and "achieve your objectives" by "navigating daily minefields." I'm just a simple guy who used to recruit local high school football players into my company because they made great young carpenters--and because they knew what to do when I'd say "Huddle up" every morning. One of my best crews included a former quarterback, center, tailback, and wide receiver from the same team. The parallels between success in sports and business are unmistakable. To succeed at either one you have to learn to work as a member of a team toward common, agreed-upon goals. Team members must take responsibility for their own performances, and learn the effects on the rest of the team when they don't do their jobs. And if you're the "coach" you must provide effective leadership to motivate productivity and success. These are big lessons, and as cliché as they may seem sometimes, I think they're right on target.

I'll be the first to admit that sports lessons fall short in many ways. For example, you won't really expand your creativity through the single-minded focus of sports psychology. You also won't develop the compassion or communication skills critical to developing talent within your company and keeping customers, vendors, and subs on your side. But if you put the same energy into analyzing your company, crew, and projects that you put into following the ups and downs of your favorite sports team, you'll see how directly related the two are.

Business is a lot like that. And come to think of it--isn't life a team sport?