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It’s Not Just About Sports


Have you been watching the Olympics? I always enjoy the competition and the personal stories. I found myself staying up late watching several of the events live. I continue to be inspired by watching people who are the best at what they do. Here are some of the business lessons I saw.

1. Set really big goals. I have watched Katie Ledecky’s pursuit of her Olympic goals for the past few years. She grew up and went to high school in my county, so she is covered by our local news. Her coach, Bruce Gemmell, worked with Katie to look at the bigger picture, developing a vision for the future. Gemmell brought his corporate speak to his swim coach career and talked about setting BFHG — Big Fat Hairy Goals. One of those goals was swim a time in the range of 3:56 in the 400 freestyle race. Neither shared the goal. It seemed absurd at the time. Her time was 3.56.46. When was the last time you set a BFHG?

2. Create systems. While you can see this in lots of sports, it was very apparent with the women’s gymnastics team. The women each worked with their individual coaches at a home gym. They then had regular five-hour practices and boot camps at Martha Karolyi’s ranch and training camp. The goal was to perfect the smallest details, as Karolyi said in a recent article on Simone Biles in Texas Monthly. “When you are not precise, you make mistakes. That makes you nervous, which leads to more mistakes.” What systems do you have in place? Do they support predictable results?

3. Work at improving every day. For all of the athletes, it is about continuous improvement, from the equestrians to the archers. Small steps add up over time. All the athletes had setbacks, but they did not quit. They learned from their failures. If you work at it, you will see results. Just ask Simone Manual, the first black woman to win an individual gold medal in swimming, or Sanne Wevers, the first Dutch woman to medal in gymnastics. They believed in their own skills, even though others were predicted to win. They continued to work on their skills. There is a saying in sailing: “If you aren’t moving faster than the water, you can’t control your direction.” It’s the same here. You simply must view your competition as improving every day and understand that today’s competitive advantage is tomorrow’s competitive requirement. Are you taking steps each day to improve?

4. Know who your competition is but focus on the prize. Each athlete knows who they are competing against, their strengths and weaknesses and how to capitalize on that knowledge. While that is important, it is just as important to keep your eye on the end result. I remember watching both a swimmer and a runner look at where their competition was relative to themselves. The competitions are decided on seconds. It makes a difference if you keep your focus where it belongs. What do you know about your competition? Where are you focusing?

5. Hire a coach and put an accountability team in place. Your biggest obstacle to success is yourself. One way to get past that is to have people in your corner, a coach or mentor, to guide you and help you get past your stumbling blocks. How are you being held accountable?

 I am sure at one time or another we have looked at one or two of these business lessons. However, all of these lessons have a valuable impact on your business at any given time. What about you? Reread this article, and thoughtfully answer each question above. Post it at your work station as a reminder for when the slump may seem to creep up. Maybe there is something you are missing. What other tips have you put into play to aid in your success? Feel free to share them in the comments below or on our ICAP Facebook or Google+ pages.

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2 Responses to “It’s Not Just About Sports”

  1. Desiree said:

    Hi Morna, love this post! I was also getting so many inspirations from the Olympics this year. I love the “Set really big Goals”! I live by that and strive to think big! Thanks for posting!

  2. Morna said:

    Desiree, it is always inspirational! It always reaffirms that we are capable of so much more than we think.

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