The Summer Olympics are upon us. And over the next three weeks, more than 10,000 athletes from around the globe will do their best to go faster, higher and stronger. In the process, they will push the boundaries of what is currently considered humanly possible, and remind of us what can happen when we follow a dream.
The Olympics make for great entertainment, especially now that we can watch just about every single event on TV or computer. We can also learn a lot from these premier athletes and from the games themselves.
Focus on Winning
What I admire most about Olympic athletes is their ability to focus on winning. As the games approach, each and every one of them will be crystal clear on winning, on doing whatever it takes to get the gold. During the games, they will set new records and new standards for winning. Some will achieve gold and some won’t. But every one of them will show up prepared and ready, having spent their energy and time focused on winning for the days, weeks, months, and years proceeding the games.
Watching the games will be exciting and energizing as we hear the stories of struggle, previous defeats, and support necessary to get there. We’ll rejoice in the victories, cringe and perhaps even cry at the defeats or falters. We’ll hold our breath and sit mesmerized as the athletes demonstrate the discipline, focus and commitment it takes to be a winner.
The Olympic Games will compel us to want to achieve – in our own ways. So how will you respond? What race will you decide to run, and how will you begin or continue your journey to the gold? Who will support you, and how will you remain aligned to do what it will take to do it? And what will winning look like when you get there?
The Power of a Compelling Vision
The Olympic games couldn’t take place without a huge volunteer base. When the British Olympic Committee first began planning nearly a decade ago, they asked for 70,000 volunteers. When they actually began recruiting in 2010, they received 240,000 applications. During the games, they expect these Olympic supporters to contribute a total of 8 million volunteer hours! What could your business accomplish with that kind of passion and commitment?
The Olympics inspire people like few other events on the planet. The pageantry, the drama, the coming together of different people and cultures for a common cause — people want to be a part of these things. And they give up weeks or months of their lives, without compensation, to be a part of it.
The Olympics make us feel a part of something bigger. Simply by watching we feel better about ourselves and the human race in general as we get reminded what people can accomplish when motivated by a powerful goal. How does your business connect employees to something bigger than themselves? As the leader, what will you do to inspire people to greater heights?
It never happens the way you expect
Originally, Great Britain estimated it would cost £2.7 billion to stage the games. In 2007, they raised that figure to £9.3 billion. The latest projection from Parliament’s public accounts committee puts total costs at closer to £11 billion. Much of this increase is being driven by security costs, which have nearly doubled from £282 million to £553 million. What a price to pay for three weeks of goodwill and sporting competition!
The correlation to business is that the plan almost never unfolds as expected. Markets change, costs go up, new competitors arrive, unexpected events occur. Which is why today’s organizations need to develop strategic agility — the ability to move fast with flexibility without losing focus on the goal – in order to win.
In today’s hyper paced world, each one of us is running a race every day – in our organizations and in our personal lives. Do you have the clarity, focus, and commitment to win? Or are you just running all over the place?
You may not have the physical abilities of an Olympian, but you do have a brain that you can use to focus on a goal as powerfully as any Olympic athlete. You also have something you do, or could do, incredibly well. Whether it involves running your business, being a great parent, supporting your community, or whatever you choose – put your talents to work with your incredible brainpower and you, too, can achieve Olympic status. And in doing so, you can accomplish what others think is impossible!
Call to action: Select one area of your business or personal life that you want to improve on. Then identify three ways you could focus more intently on winning in that area.