Almost every speaker in a personal development podcast or motivational speech I listened to for many years proclaimed, “Do what Olympic Athletes do and you will be successful!”. During one podcast I started yelling at the radio in total frustration. I had become an Olympic Athlete but was really struggling to adapt those skills into my entrepreneurial business. I knew what it took to be an Olympic Athlete but how the #%@& do I become successful as an entrepreneur?!? How do I translate what it takes to be the best in the world in sport into business?
Frustration almost got the better of me. I continued to look for resources and reach out to others who were also in the process of reinventing themselves. Whether it was because of a change in circumstance: lost job, wanted to spend time with family, loss of a loved one, I found these people so inspiring that they had found success through change. The desire to share these stories was the start of the Rising Tides Speaker Series. I persevered and learned a lot from these incredibly resilient awesome people.
Wait a minute!
Perseverance – never give up attitude. That is a major trait in an Olympic Athlete. I was definitely not the best sailor when I started, my first sailing instructor wrote in an evaluation I found many years later “Martha is a pushy airhead who will never do anything in sailing”, but I persevered!
Maybe there is something to what the pundits were saying and I need to look at this differently. What is it in the make up of an Olympic Athlete that equals success in other realms? I have been exploring this for a while and questioned – is it in their DNA? Their upbringing? Their schooling. None of these were the key. Finally, the light bulb went on. I understood what the personal development speakers were talking about.
Here are 5 traits of Olympic Athletes do that you can embrace to be successful.
- Perseverance – as mentioned above if you give up you will never succeed. You may need to shift in your original intent but keep learning and improving.
- Coaching – no one gets to the Olympics or are successful in business without mentors or coaches. Athletes use several different coaches for different aspects of their sport. We used at least 6 different coaches through the course of our journey depending on what we needed at the time. Seek out people who are experts and that you mesh well with. Getting an outside perspective is always helpful but the right coach can make you sparkle!
- Focus – there will be lots of people giving you negative messages about why you will not succeed. I was told I was too old, too short, too tall, too fat, too whatever. These negative statements have nothing to do with you but rather what they fear about themselves. Shelve those thoughts and keep your eye on your own progress!
- Simplify – Athletes spend years refining and honing their skills to make them as simple and efficient to maximize their performance. If you feel that you have so much to do and are doing nothing well or things are not going your way, simplify, simplify simplify. Entrepreneurs must multitask so break down each task into its simplest form and do not over complicate it. This may mean outsourcing a task to someone else – runners do not make their shoes; they focus on running the race!
- Enjoy the journey – this is most important! When I decided to pursue the goal of going to the Olympics, one of my crew was already an Olympian. We were interviewed for a local paper and she said, “this experience is about the journey”. This stopped me in my tracks as I had always looked at it as being the goal. It is what we did day to day, the people we met and the fun we had that truly made the work worth it. When the goal is achieved and the flame goes out, it is over, but the lessons learned along the way are where the real gold lies.
So maybe those speakers were right!