Why Creatives and Marketers Need to Train More Like Athletes with Dr. Bhrett McCabe

Posted on January 18, 2013

Sometimes you walk into a presentation and the speaker gives you irresistible content that you just can’t manage to scribble down fast enough. Other times you get a phenomenal speaker that uplifts you in some way to act and make a change. The rest, well, you probably don’t remember those because you got neither content or inspiration out of it.

It’s incredibly rare that someone is capable of delivering the perfect content in an entertaining and memorable performance for 60 straight minutes (except for Alabama football, of course.) Dr. Bhrett McCabe, Founder/Licensed Clinical Psychologist of The MindSide in Birmingham, Alabama practices what he preaches so well that it’s unbelievable. I know, I know. To each his own; the presentation and content may not have knocked the socks off everyone in the room. However, my socks, which by the way, are always awesome and colorful, were nowhere to be found in the building. Let’s just say this guy can preach his stuff.


Because you wanted proof, here are today’s socks.

The talk Dr. McCabe gave focused on the idea that athletes and creatives share an incredible amount of similarities. I’ll give you a moment to clean up your thoughts. (90% of you just muttered “they’re polar opposites, Zack” to your computer screen.) McCabe drew a few parallels between the motives of a true athlete and a dedicated creative:

  • Both are driven by excellence
  • Both operate in and are driven by extreme levels of competition
  • Both are committed to their careers
  • Neither are satisfied until perfection is delivered and they have won the game

Perhaps my love for both sports and marketing have not allowed my brain to draw parallels in an effort to keep pleasure as far away from business as possible. However, I gained a lot just by listening to Dr. McCabe. I’ll touch on some of the main ideas that he offered:

Success does have a formula

Is this another story about a stranger walking onto a stage claiming he knows exactly what you need to do to become more successful? Absolutely not. McCabe backs his points up, and damn well, too. Here’s what he proposed:

Talent + Desire + Plan + Belief = Success

Impressed yet? Probably not. Let’s dig deeper.


Researchers claim that it takes roughly 10,000 hours of preparation to consider yourself an expert. That’s equivalent to 4 years of education including study hours. When you completely immerse yourself in something for an extended period of time, you naturally hone your skills and find your weaknesses. In college, you study to overcome your weaknesses and close knowledge gaps in hopes of improving your test scores. Repetitive behavior, over time, helps us develop skills and find our talents.


The opposite of desire is dislike. If you don’t desire to do something or be someone, you won’t want to put those hours in to become an expert. Don’t waste time on things that aren’t important to you. McCabe helps his clients realize the intense desire to become what they want by first developing a plan.


Not having a plan allows you be successful only to a certain level. The little wins, the low hanging fruit, are where you will spend your time since you can’t see what’s above that. Though outliers exist, most people can’t prepare for what they don’t see coming. A lack of planning cuts off any opportunity to get to the higher branches where the most successful people hang out.


This is pretty self-explanatory and pulls concepts from each of the previous points. Having a plan and creating manageable steps helps you visualize your goals. If you don’t desire to be a successful designer, you’ll be less inclined to put in the hours of preparation and thus lack the belief that you can produce great work. Believing in yourself and what you want to accomplish gives you motivation to continue being awesome. Luck will only get you so far in life.

Let this soak in for today and be on the lookout for more tips on why creatives and marketers need to train more like athletes from Dr. McCabe!

Click the link to check out his company, The MindSide.

Feel like stalking Dr. McCabe on Twitter? (Please give him a huge RTR since he’s an LSU football fan.)

Or, for more insight, check out his blog.

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