Olympians seem superhuman. As we watch them compete in Rio, many of us are left in awe at their strength, their speed, their agility, but most of all at their undeterred focus and self-belief. As well as pushing their bodies to the limit, they are also able to conquer their minds, in a way that few of us have experienced.
What keeps them going through injury? How do they have the courage to compete on an international stage? What belief systems lead them to believe that they can be the best in the world?
We believe strongly that an active body leads to an active mind, and conquering them both is the fastest route to success. In today’s blog I want to explore the belief system of an Olympic athlete and understand if it is possible for us all to emulate this and apply it to our own careers.
“All the physical comes from the mental.”
Clara Hughes, six time cycling medalist
Do What you Love & Love What you Do
I would hope that the majority of those reading this post are doing a job that they love. If you are, then you are already on the path to success. You must have an unfaltering passion for your position and industry. This is the only thing that will stop you from quitting when things get tough. The bad days are an inevitable part of your career journey.
“The first thing is to love your sport. Never do it to please someone else. It has to be yours.”
Peggy Fleming, gold medallist in figure skating
You would be hard-pressed to find an Olympic athlete who is not passionate about his sport, or whose energy does not ignite the room when they compete.
Many of us who don’t achieve the success we hope for, stumble at this first hurdle (no pun intended!). We convince ourselves that we enjoy our jobs, that we will learn to love the company or that the money, the perks and the convenience is enough, but this always runs out eventually.
Go For Gold
When Olympic athletes train, they won’t be training for bronze. They won’t be waking up at 4am, risking injury on a daily basis, and isolating themselves from friends and family for second place. They go for gold. They train to reach the very top in their game and they envision this every day of their gruelling training regime.
In business, the same rules should be applied. If you want to be the best, you can’t treat your career like a hobby. Aim to be number one in your industry: the most reputable, the most profitable, the most-well known, the most forward thinking etc. Whatever your definition of success, go for gold and don’t stop until you get there.
We will all face competition in business. Whether you are up against a colleague for a promotion, battling it out with another start up based on a similar idea or operating in a saturated industry, competition will always be rife.
Rather than letting it cripple you, let it empower you. Without competition, we are all stagnant. It is our competition that makes us improve our service, that makes us perfect our product and that makes us strive to get faster, better & stronger every single day.
Rather than getting absorbed with what competitors are doing every day, focus on your own strategy. Rather than obsessing that they are ahead of you, learn from them and replicate what works. Take strength from your competitors, to make yourself the best version that you can be.
“The only victory that counts is the one over yourself.”
Jesse Owens, four time gold medalist
Professional athletes always credit mistakes as milestones. Many of us take our mistakes to heart, and fail to learn from them. We confuse mistakes with failure and we are too afraid to make them.
Anyone taking real risks in life, needs to accept mistakes as par for the course. When they take place, we need to learn from them quickly and move on. We need to make sure that we don’t make the same mistake twice and start crediting them as a sign of progress.
“I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life and that is why I succeed.”
– Michael Jordan, gold medallist in basketball
So, as we continue to watch The Games this summer, let’s also use them as inspiration to improve ourselves in our own individual sports and careers.