With the London 2012 Olympics drawing to a close, and the Paralympics not yet begun, I thought it might be both fun and beneficial to the Scaleogy community to take a look at what separates the highest achievers in sport from the rest of the pack.
More importantly, what can we learn from the greatest Olympic champions that we can apply to our business lives?
PLANNING IS CRUCIAL.
It still amazes me the number of people who go into business without a real plan. By a ‘real’ plan, I mean that you’ve actually sat down and drawn out a series of goals for your business and how you plan to attain them.
The same lack of planning cannot be said of Jessica Ennis, Olympic heptathlon champion:
‘I sit down with my coach and we plan short-term goals… and then long-term goals for year upon year.’
This kind of planning helped Jess to see a path mapped out before her, with steps along the way that she had to achieve to be on course for an Olympic medal.
If you plan your goals, both in the short and long term, you get a great sense of clarity for the direction you’re heading in. It also shows you the importance of certain things, and the unimportance of others, meaning you can focus more clearly on each step, thus achieving your outcome more quickly.
Most importantly, if there’s a plan, you only need to focus on completing the current step, or as Jessica Ennis says: ‘Focus just solely on each event.’
YOUR SELF-CONFIDENCE IS KEY.
‘Self-belief is probably the most crucial factor in sporting success. The bodies are roughly equal, the training is similar, the techniques can be copied, what separates the achievers is nothing as tangible as split times or kilograms. It is the iron in the mind, not the supplements, that wins medals.’ – Steve Redgrave (Six-time Olympic Rowing Champion)
Take out the sporting elements of the above quote and replace them with business ones, and it’s the perfect lesson to bear in mind when you’re creating and running any kind of business.
In particular, think about the fact that in your industry, as in most, genuine innovation is rarer than you’re lead to believe. Marketing messages exult the ‘next big thing’ when in fact it’s often just a re-working of what’s gone before.
With that in mind, you soon realise that it really isn’t about the techniques your business employs, but far more about you as the business owner knowing (not believing but knowing) that you will achieve your goals regardless of anything else.
WHAT OTHER PEOPLE ARE DOING AND SAYING DOESN’T MATTER.
One of the truths that comes out of interviews with Olympic champions is that ultimately, you are only ever in competition with yourself.
‘A psychologist would always say ‘You control the controllables’. You’re not in control of the weather, you’re not in control of the opposition, you’re not in control of the TV audience or the crowd or the event, you know, that’s all beyond you.’ – Matthew Pinsent (Four-time Olympic rowing champion)
So many business owners fret and worry about the things that are out of their control, that it takes them away from optimising all those things that they do control. As a result, they dissolve their own focus and prevent their own success from happening.
‘You can only control how you perform when the gun goes off.’ – Michael Johnson (Four time Olympic sprint champion)
PRESSURE AND COMPETITION ARE YOUR FRIENDS.
Sports psychologist Tom Bates once said:
‘The interesting thing is… gold medal athletes… will not see pressure as a problem. They will perceive it as a privilege.’
Most people do their best to avoid situations that conventional wisdom tells them are risky or pressurised.
The problem with this approach is that without pushing yourself to dissolve that fear, you cannot possibly grow into a better business owner. Actually, never mind about business for a second, you can never hope to become the incredible person you are capable of being without pushing yourself a little.
Again, Michael Johnson has got this on lock:
‘What you want to do [is] figure out ‘What works for me? How do I get myself best prepared to… have my best performance and deal with the pressure that I’m about to be under?’… Just like you develop a race strategy, you can develop a mental strategy to come out and have your best performance.’
There are going to be pressures in your business, just as there will be in your life. It’s a given. So how are you going to get good at using them to your advantage?
If all this leaves you a little daunted at what it takes to succeed in life and business, then remember something that Olympic heptathlon champion Denise Lewis said in a recent interview:
‘It’s something that can be improved, you don’t necessarily start off with great mental control, [or the] mental ability to get the best out of yourself. It’s something you can develop.’
Just as with everything else in your business, you can constantly be learning and improving your mindset.
Now, let’s share this Olympic wisdom with as many people as possible…
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
James Gladwell is an internet marketing expert and professional blogger who shares tips and tools to help you succeed faster via his blog Adventures in Internet Marketing. You can follow him on Twitter @AdventuresinIM