We love sports because at its best, sports can exemplify high achievement and success. Sports is a great parable for life itself and there are a number of things one can observe on the athletic field that translate to the classroom, the boardroom or even personal relationships.

There are many intangibles in sports. Above and beyond athleticism, coaching and preparation there are some less obvious factors which can ultimately determine success. Things like desire or heart as it is often referred to cannot be defined by a tape measure or a speed gun. It does not show up on a stat sheet. But you know it when you see it. Chemistry, while scientific by nature, is one of sports many hard to define characteristics when it comes to team sports. It’s not a formula that can be easily duplicated or everyone would. It is instead an amalgam of selflessness, positivity, generosity and sometimes even luck that slow cooks over time to create a strong bond among athletes. How many times have we seen good teams become great and the sum of its parts grow exponentially when athletes come together and buy into the plan. The San Francisco Giants and Kansas City Royals are two excellent and recent examples of great team chemistry and success.

Then there is confidence. Maybe above all else, the most critical element to an athlete’s or team’s success is not only believing you can win, but knowing it. Before the fall, there was perhaps no more confident athlete on the planet than Tiger Woods. Yes, he was skilled. He practiced his craft tirelessly and received the best coaching available. His desire was second to none. The thing that separated him from the rest of the field though was confidence. Every time he stepped between the ropes he expected to win because he knew he could and believed he was the best player out there. For more than a decade he dominated his sport like few before him. He was the man. We knew it. The other players knew it; but most importantly, he knew it. Others hit the ball farther or reached more greens in regulation, but when it came down to winning, nobody did it with more regularity and confidence than the guy in the red Nike golf shirt. For years, he seemingly never missed a putt within 15 feet and as any golfer can tell you, putting is all about confidence.

In terms of team sports, there are few better examples of confidence these days than that being exhibited by the New England Patriots and Golden State Warriors. Sure, both teams are well coached and have excellent players including maybe the best quarterback, Tom Brady and point guard, Steph Curry to ever play the game, but the thing that separates these teams is confidence.  Every player on these teams goes into each game knowing they will win. There is no doubt they are better than their opponent and this gives them a decided edge. Some would call this being cocky, but there is a big difference between being cocky and being confident. Cocky talks the talk. Confidence walks the walk. Winning certainly builds confidence and both of these teams are winning with regularity, but I would argue that without supreme confidence these would just be better than average teams.

So whether it is sports or business or simply living life, we can all create success by listening to our coaches, practicing hard, having heart, nurturing chemistry and most importantly, being confident.