With the Olympics in Rio closing upon it, it’s an opportune moment to revive an article I originally wrote for the London 2012 Olympics and reflect upon what elite athletes and what the Olympics can teach Entrepreneurs about being successful. As entrepreneurs we often forget many of the other elements that help you become successful, relying instead on our ability alone. Unfortunately as you will see in this article, that alone is rarely enough.
Here are some great lessons the Olympics can teach Entrepreneurs about being Successful:
Lesson One, What the Olympics can teach Entrepreneurs about being successful:
Competition makes you stronger.
Whilst watching some highlights of the marathon during London 2012 Olympics, a famous athlete of past Olympics emphasised just how important the inter-country rivalry was. Sometimes they trained harder simply because they thought the rival country was better, meaning they pushed harder and faster to ensure their country stayed on top. This somewhat friendly rivalry helped them to stay focused in their training and to constantly be improving in order not to be beaten.
As entrepreneurs we often think what we are doing is good enough. We should instead, benchmark ourselves against the best out there and make sure we not only keep on par with competitors but also work hard to stay a few steps ahead. Competition is good for you, embrace it.
Lesson Two, What the Olympics can teach Entrepreneurs about being successful:
Nobody makes it alone
Nobody at the Olympics makes it alone and this was emphasised brilliantly by Bolt after the 4 x 100m final in London 2012 Olympics. He took the time to thank the universities that had gone out of their way to give him access to their facilities so he could train hard.
Even when training he is not alone. He has coaches and technicians alongside a medical team that analyse his performance and help make constant changes which help him become even faster. He truly respected how hard his team worked for him and how hard those around him had to work to give him the chance to be at his best.
Every athlete is the same. You can only go so far on your own, whilst expert coaching and expert support can perhaps take you much much further then you imagine.
As entrepreneurs we should also remember that whilst we can learn many things on our own, surrounding yourself by good coaches and advice is really the key to reaching your full potential.
Lesson Three, What the Olympics can teach Entrepreneurs about being successful:
It takes hours and hours of practice.
None of these guys woke up one day and simply became great a sport, they all tried, thought about giving up many times, improved lots and worked long and hard to get where they are. Of course we can say most of them do not have a day job, but they still spent many years of their lives training very hard (mostly thought their teens when the vast majority of us were getting up late and busy having fun).
They dedicated their lives to their sports and practised incredible hard. Watching Victoria Pendleton’s huge relief that she no longer has to train after giving up cycling should show just how hard these guys train to be at the peak of their sports.
We as entrepreneurs often think we are working hard, but are we really? Find a way to measure your progress, just like elite athletes. It could be measured by the increased interactions on social channels, increased sales of your products or other measures. It just has to be a true measure of your successes so that you to can become a champion at what you do by practising hard and measuring your success every day.
Lesson Four, What the Olympics can teach Entrepreneurs about being successful:
If you want to be the best then you have to look after your mind and body
The way you move and the way you think really affects how well you do in a sport. Some athletes even believe mental strength to be one of the most important factors of success as it is what defines you in the years of training leading up to the Olympics.
Mental strength and physical strength are two components of a healthy person. Entrepreneurs all to often neglect both mental exercise alongside physical exercise.
Use the lessons from the Olympics as a catalyst to help you begin developing both. Take the time to improve yourself mentally by surrounding yourself with successful people and reading more widely on topics that may help you. Improve yourself physically by taking time to partake in regular physical activity so your body remains fits and active. As an entrepreneur it will be not only immensely rewarding to be healthy but also hugely beneficial for your productivity and general well-being.
Lesson Five, What the Olympics can teach Entrepreneurs about being successful:
The Olympic village is a heck of a lot of fun.
Understandable really, here are thousands of young people who work really hard almost every day practising their sport. They live by bedtime curfews, strict diets and strenuous physical routines.
So when all is said and done, they let their hair down and party like it’s the end of the world.
As entrepreneurs we also need to remember to let ourselves go at times too. Working hard is great for periods of time, but it is also important to release that energy too and just completely forget about your routines for a few days. Athletes do this as they have set training periods and set competition times.
If you are the type of entrepreneur that works every hour you are awake, that does not remember what a weekend is and is losing touch with civilisation, then set yourself a number of weeks where you are always to work hard following by a period of time where you completely unwind, let go and party hard.
You will feel better for it, just like the athletes have proven.