What Your Business Can Learn From Olympic Athletes
With the Rio Olympics now well underway and the excitement is high while Australia is on equal first with gold medals! How does this relate to business you ask? Well, there is a lot an athlete, team and country must do in preparation to achieve this success, which can be applied to your business.
1. Have Dedication and Passion
You have to want it. Don’t take my word for it. Take it from these Olympic winners:
Passion is a huge prerequisite to winning. It makes you willing to jump through hoops, go through all the ups and downs and everything in between to reach your goal.
(Kerri Walsh, beach volleyball Olympic gold medalist)
If one can stick to the training throughout the many long years, then willpower is no longer a problem. It’s raining? That doesn’t matter. I am tired? That’s beside the point. It’s simply that I just have to.
(Emil Zatopek, winner of 4 gold medal at 1948 London and 1952 Helsinki Olympic Games)
Never underestimate the power of dreams and the influence of the human spirit. We are all the same in this notion: The potential for greatness lives within each of us.
(Wilma Rudolph, USA gold medalist in track and field)
2. Set Goals
Setting goals is important. People who set goals accomplish more, feel better about their daily work, and appreciate their work. Writing your goals on paper helps to ingrain them into your emotional and physical efforts. First you must Identify your goal. You can’t achieve your goal until you define what it is. Then Identify what you need to reach your goal. What tools, resources, training, etc., do you need to achieve your goal? Identifying the path you need to take is the first step on the road to victory.
While Olympic athletes continuously strive to win the grand prize, their success relies on setting small, manageable goals. Their training process may start off shaky and some may even feel uncertain, but it is these small achievements that help them improve over time.
Similarly, your business may have long-term projects that are simply too big to achieve without breaking them down. This is especially crucial for newer small businesses, as they must first construct an actionable business plan and work with limited resources. It is okay to think big—in fact, it is even encouraged—but you should remember that taking it slow and steady will help you win the race.
Not only do Olympic athletes know what they want and have the passion and drive to see their dreams come true, they make a plan and they stick to it. They surround themselves with people who support them and help them achieve their goals.
We all have dreams. But in order to make dreams come into reality, it takes an awful lot of determination, dedication, self-discipline, and effort.
(Jesse Owens, USA track and field gold medalist)
Olympic athletes have their heroes, those who they aspire to be. The same works in business. Look for influencers and role models in your field. Identify what they do really well, learn from them and model the behavior.
4. Recognize the importance of teamwork
No one can do it alone. Build an incredible team and recognize the value of each individual as well as the team itself. When Michael Phelps won his record-setting 19th Olympic medal in the 4 × 200 metre freestyle relay the first thing he did was to hug and thank his teammates for their support and inspiration.
Business, like sports, often requires a group of people to work together towards collective goals and with common intent.
5. Perseverance & Discipline is critical
We live in the real world where businesses do fail, and leaders stumble. Push through the pain and frustration and try again. Discipline improves performance. Make preparation, practice, and accountability hallmarks of your company and the goals that were once dreams will become a reality.
6. Stay Focused
Gabby Douglas didn’t get to the pinnacle of her sport and her craft just by being supremely talented. She worked. Hard. Her training would have included hours of practice on the various equipment, but also calisthenics, running, stretching, yoga, pilates, and weight training. Beyond the physical training, it is the mental and emotional skills that truly make the difference between great athlete and gold medal-winner.
Businesses can take a simple lesson from this: your business is like an athlete – it needs to be kept competitively healthy and fit, but also requires that you focus deeply on your own business fundamentals, and strategy, and that you always keep in mind that this is a competition; your own level of focus may be the difference needed to best the competition.
7. Train & Practice Daily
Olympic athletes have a schedule that is never broken. They become the best, in part, because of repetition. Repeating a scenario over and over ultimately gives you a competitive advantage. Don’t confuse this with “doing the same thing every day and never changing.” Practice doesn’t make perfect. Purposeful practice makes perfect.
In business, practice equates to training and preparation. Practice with a purpose by thinking about the point of execution, whether it is with a project or everyday operations. Follow a plan, go over your execution with your team and review your plans daily. How can you improve? Seek feedback from others and make necessary changes.
8. Have the right mindset
Only the most determined Olympic athletes succeed through long hours of training, assessing their environment, and undeterred optimism. They are occasionally faced with tragic or unexpected setbacks, such as an injury, but what sets them apart is their uncanny ability to bounce back and face adversity head on.
When business goes bad, the ability to find an ideal solution is what will define your experience and success. Your business may face internal conflict or financial difficulties, or take much longer than expected to bring in a profit. Regardless of your situation, develop the mindset of an Olympian to swiftly bounce back and move forward. While failure can be blamed on various, unforeseen scenarios, having the right mindset about your business can help you get out of particularly difficult situations. This is the competitive advantage that forces you to think outside the box and put your best resources to work.
9. Embrace competition
Olympians compete against one another for the gold medal, but they truly admire fair and productive competition since it helps them improve their skills. Similarly, someone will always attempt to take your place and win over your customers, which should motivate you to offer better services and maintain your winning position.
In the event of failure, the success of a fellow athletic competitor inspires others to reassess their strengths and weaknesses. No matter how you look at it, there is nothing to lose by embracing competition and learning from it.
10. Don’t Be Afraid to Make a Mistake
Just because something has been done a certain way, year after year, it doesn’t mean you can’t improve or change the technique. Find new ways to be better, stronger, and more efficient, yes it will involve risks, but there is no need to be afraid. Worst that can happen is a mistake, and making mistakes is normal. Failure happens to the best of the best. Even Olympic gold medal winners have failed at some point. What is important is to learn from mistakes and failures. Do not let mistakes defeat you. Embrace them and learn from them, make corrections, and use the lessons to change the future.
Does your business attack success like the athletes in Rio? If not, it is time to stop shooting in the dark and GO FOR GOLD!