U.S. Chamber President Suzanne Clark discusses tough decision making and teamwork with NFL referee Sarah Thomas.

Like most entrepreneurs, Sarah Thomas knows a lot about making difficult decisions. The only difference is that Thomas has to make them in a split second and in front of a stadium full of people. As an NFL referee, she knows the importance of making the best decision possible and recovering from making a bad one.

“We never want to see any of us fail because we know the passion and the work we put into this to get it right,” Thomas said in a recent interview with U.S. Chamber of Commerce President Suzanne Clark.

Thomas, who joined the NFL in 2015 as the first female referee, is the subject of the most recent episode of “5 Business Lessons,” in which Clark interviews leaders from a variety of fields to learn the skills they apply to their work and illuminate how they apply to helping entrepreneurs run their own businesses.

In this episode, Clark reveals five key business lessons from Thomas experience in the NFL.

Lesson 1 — Success is shared. So is failure. Officials stick together as a team, Thomas said. Even when you make a bad call, they’ve got your back.

Lesson 2 — Don’t dwell on your mistakes. If you’re focused on the past, you’re missing the present and it will truly mess up your future, Thomas told Clark.

Lesson 3 — Stick to your deadlines. If you have to have a decision by a certain time, you’ll do it on deadline, Thomas said.

Lesson 4 — Build your relationships. It’s the off-the-field trust when you really get to know someone that just builds on being on the field with them, Thomas said.

Lesson 5 — Be a “learn it all,” not a know it all. I am putting in the time. I am doing my due diligence. I am a sponge, Thomas said, of constantly working to be a better referee.

For more unexpected lesson and business advice, check out “5 Business Lessons I Learned from a Paleontologist,” another in Clark’s series.

CO— aims to bring you inspiration from leading respected experts. However, before making any business decision, you should consult a professional who can advise you based on your individual situation.

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Published November 18, 2019