There are often opportunities to learn great business lessons from applicable wisdom that comes from outside business. As I enjoyed the Rio 2016 Olympics over the last two weeks, I see many similarities of the characteristics that are key to achieving high performance in the Olympics to those required for high performance in business.
One of the things I truly appreciate about watching Olympic athletes is their extraordinary athleticism. Their fitness level allows them to push harder, push longer, and endure pain beyond most people's comprehension. Their skill level allows them to demonstrate amazing agility, phenomenal strength, exact precision, brilliant strategy, and perfect technique.
Their fitness level and skill level come as a result of a deep commitment to self-mastery. It comes as a result of focusing on goals, unbelievable dedication to practicing, and finding out who you really are and what you are capable of.
Role of coaches
No high performance athlete, no matter how great they are, gets to where they are, without a great coach. We are great by ourselves, however we can be even greater with help from a coach.
A great coach finds the fire within, rather than relying on lighting a fire underneath.
A great coach reminds athletes of the fun/joy that needs to come from the work, rather than it just being a chore.
A great coach can see the synergy that comes from the strengths of diversity among teammates.
A great coach can see things about our performance that sometimes we can't see ourselves because they have an external perspective.
A great coach can create pathways to learn skills, discipline, endurance, and focus.
A great coach wants us to believe in ourselves and our potential, as much as they do.
When a team is in sync, communicating well, focused on the same goal - it can be quite magical.
When there is deep trust, the team can execute that much more effortlessly.
When each team member is as interested in their teammate's success as they are their own, teams enhance each other's contributions.
Even if you are an individual athlete, you always have a support team around you that will either lift you up or hold you back.
The Importance of Psychology
Almost all high performance athletes recognize the importance of their positive mental states, their visualization abilities, and their ability to jettison their own ghosts that are telling them stories in their heads that aren't true.
Dealing with Adversity
Almost all high performance athletes have experienced adversity in their careers - whether that be a fall, whether that be an unexpected equipment failure, whether it be injuries, whether it be weather or adverse conditions, whether it be loss of coach or support - they all have developed the capacity to shake off adversity and use it to empower themselves. They don't let adversity take them out, but rather they use it to lift up their performance.
Celebration of Success
Personal bests are the amazing stretches that humans make beyond their previous attempts.
Personal bests should always be celebrated. We should be as celebratory over relative results, as we are for absolute results.
As you watch the Olympics, every point scored is celebrated, not just the last one.
We should celebrate all the people that do their best, not just ourselves.
Silken Laumann was a great Olympic hero - one of her great quotes:
"I always loved winning, but I never liked beating other people" :)
The Power of Inspiration
Hearing stories of those who go above and beyond what is expected, hearing the stories of those who are underdogs and still try, hearing stories of those who lead and lift up others - all these stories touch us in our best place of being humans. They all inspire us that the world is full of people who show us what is possible!
The great Latin words which define the Olympics - Citius, Altius, Fortius (Faster, Higher, Stronger). May we have the desire to make our businesses Olympic in nature!