Not so soft skills

guest post from Edward Couldwell

For over a decade, rowing was my ‘thing’. I gave it a pretty good go, reaching an international standard as an U23 and scooping up numerous domestic wins, including at Henley Royal Regatta before the lure of a career in design got the better of me.

Although I never reached the Olympic bar, many of my close friends did and I’ve seen and felt the challenges of making the transition from full time sport, especially the further up the performance ladder you go.

Grappling with your own identity, starting from zero, going from a tangible structure to navigating the subjective are all things that I’ve experienced and seen many close friends struggle with.

These days I help people to launch and grow businesses. It mostly involves noticing things and designing a solution of some kind.

This means I get to meet a lot of entrepreneurs and be a ‘fly on the wall’ in a lot of businesses. After a while you start to notice patterns.

One of the things that seems abundantly clear are the traits shared between the top performers in both sport and business. Resilience, drive, discipline, focus, teamwork, resourcefulness, ownership… I could go on for days. Some people would call these ‘soft skills’.

As an employee you can get away without these things. It’s all too easy to hide away in the corner of an office doing the bare minimum. However, if you’re looking to start your own business, these ‘soft skills’ are not a nice-to-have; they are a must.

Building a business is tough and in most cases you are going to take a beating. 60% of startups fail in the first three years. If you’ve spent a considerable amount of time in a sporting environment, those odds feel like a luxury.

The way the world is heading at the moment favours anyone who has got the drive, creativity and resilience to make something for themselves and others. The barriers to building the career of your dreams has never been so few.

For anyone currently coming to the end of their sporting career, there are lots of great things waiting for you on the other side of the bumpy transition period.

Instead of thinking of it as ‘life after sport’ how about: Life because of sport?

Your time as an athlete has equipped you better than you could imagine.


Check out Ed’s new project:

You can find Ed on:

His website:


Instagram: @eddyoninsta



LAPS Members can discuss Ed’s post on our Community page.