Business / Education

Lessons from Olympians that can Advance your Career

Every four years the Olympics draws athletes from all over the world ready to compete to determine who will win gold, silver, and bronze.  This year the Olympics seemed extra special, for three weeks the Olympics captivated the nation. Truly the world was watching as athletes from almost every country performed at their very best and defied convention as they reached for the illustrious gold.

With the Olympics in the rearview there are several recurring themes that were evident from event to event and interview to interview. There are several lessons that can be learned from Olympians and these lessons can be applied to advancing your career.

Most people will never compete in the Olympic games but everyone has the ability to become an Olympian in their own right. The equivalent to Olympic gold will be different from industry to industry. You may never win 20+ Olympic medals like Michael Phelps but you probably haven’t chosen swimming as your profession either.  Olympic gold may be partnership in a major law firm, teacher of the year recognition, or a professorship at a major research institution.  

How can you reach Olympic gold in your career? There are 4 lessons that can be learned from Olympians:

1-      Follow your dreams. Set lofty goals and go after them with abandon. Create a plan to achieve your goals and funnel your energy into making your dreams a reality. This requires boldness, confidence, courage, and the ability to stay focused.

2-      Develop a support team. Your support team should be made up of coaches, family, & friends. Coaches or mentors are those older experienced individuals that can help you achieve your career goals. Seek coaches that can help you get to the next level.  Family support can make a difference in achievement. Choose to spend time with and build relationships with those in your family who encourage you, nurture your gifts, and challenge you to be your best. Your support team should build you and help you get to the next level.

3-      Hard work pays off. For athletes even if they don’t win a medal there are other ways in which the years of hard work can pay off.  Athletes and other people who strive towards reaching extraordinary goals develop skills for success in life such as determination, teamwork, and self-confidence.  This is the main reason many companies hire athletes.

4-      Never give up.  Perseverance is critical, as obstacles and disappointments are encountered. In order to achieve greatness you will have to push through difficult times.  Shake off discouragement and defeat (even failure). You will have road blocks in your career. It’s how you respond to adversity that matters. Gabby Douglas two-timegymnastic Olympic gold medalist wanted to quit months before the London games, but her mother and her surrogate family encouraged her to hang in there. She did and she won gold. I love what she said after winning her second gold medal, “Hard days are the best because that is when champions are made”.

You may not win Olympic gold but you can reach your Olympic goals.  The theme for the 2013 Olympic Games is Live your Passion.  Focus your energies into your passion and then you can reach your Olympic goals too.

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