The Olympics inspire all but the most hardened of us to want to be better.
Maybe we admire the athletes’ fitness and consider starting a regime of our own. Perhaps we use them as a model for our kids of how perseverance can bring rewards.
But what can they teach us about success in business?
Quite a bit, it turns out. Here are five (yes, one for each ring) lessons we can learn from the Olympics.
1. Be curious
Admit it, you were wondering what the five rings stand for as you watched those odd Opening Ceremonies. Did you look it up? I know I did. Being a curious Olympics spectator makes you a better party guest but being curious at work makes you a better team player.
Rather than sit around at a meeting and speculate what your competitor spends on advertising, look it up. Everyone likes an “answer person;” be that go-to person in your organization. With the online tools at our disposal, it is easier than ever to find out answers and information if you take the time to look.
2. Be coachable
Olympic athletes know they can’t do it alone. They need someone – usually a cadre of “someones” – helping them with their workout plans, their nutrition needs, their training as a whole.
The same is true in business. It’s important to have a mentor; but these days, it’s more about a group of mentors than one wise elder. With today’s collaborative work environment, you typically come into contact with lots of professionals with a variety of skill sets.
Identify those people who can help you with various parts of your career. Is there a mentor who’s particularly skilled at new business and can coach you on presentation skills? Is there someone younger who is dialed into social media and can help get you up to speed? Create your own mini coaching staff of go-to people for various areas where you can use knowledge and assistance.
3. Be a team member AND an individual winner
Olympic athletes know that world success is dependent on both. In a sport like swimming, some of the events are individual, but some are team. Ryan Lochte and Michael Phelps were competitors the first night; collaborators the second. If you are a gymnast, you are competing against your own country in individual events, but ultimately you win or lose as a team.
The same holds true for business success. While you want to stand out for your individual achievements and contributions, avoid doing it at the expense of the team. Say you are competing for a huge piece of new business. You want to shine in the portion for which you are responsible, but keep track of the bigger picture: The whole company benefits when the entire team wins the new account – business is a team sport as much as an individual sport.
4. Be confident
Watch athletes approach their mark. Heads up, shoulders back. Proud and confident. Whether they feel the confidence or not, the way they project themselves can have a huge impact on their competitors’ mindset. It’s what we call “the Game Face.”
Show your confidence by speaking strongly at meetings. By owning the room when you enter it for a presentation.
People are watching. Make sure you are exuding confidence by putting your best foot forward.
5. Be dedicated
So obvious; it borders on being a cliché: Olympic athletes put in the time.
They are single-minded in their focus to achieve greatness.
And we all know how this applies to business: Work harder and smarter than your competition. Go the extra mile, figuratively, as a track star goes the extra mile literally.
The Olympics bring out the best in participants and spectators alike. As you root for your country, pay attention to how you can translate Olympic moments into your own “podium moment.”
by Cathie Ericson