Sunday, 9 September 2012

'FIRED' up for success: 5 things business owners can learn from Team GB




So the London 2012 Olympics and Paralympics have finally drawn to a close, marking the end of years of preparation for the organisers and athletes alike, not to mention months of excitement and weeks of viewing pleasure for many of us.

As a lifelong non-athelete, with relatively little interest in sport, I've been surprised at how enthralled I've been watching the amazing performances at both events, even those I'd never heard of before (who knew what 'boccia' was a few weeks ago?) I've also found myself saddened watching those athletes who have had their dreams dashed when things haven't gone to plan (Nathan Stephens and Jody Cundy to name just two).

I put my new-found interest down to the fact that, for the first time in my life, I've really thought about the blood, sweat and tears that have gone into the preparation by the Olympic and Paralympic athletes.  Each and every one of them has been aiming to reach peak performance for these Games, and although only the minority have come away with medals there are countless others who have achieved personal bests and national records in their events, or have simply made massive progress to be included in their national team. Stories of dedication, sacrifice and personal achievement have characterised the Games and hopefully made a lasting positive impression on many people.

As a business owner, I've identified 5 common characteristics shared by the Olympian and Paralympian atheletes, which I believe can also have a significant impact on business success.

F - focus:  each and every athlete has set aside the distractions of every day life in order to optimise their preparation for the big event. We all know how easy it can be to be diverted from our goal in the course of our busy lives, but those who reach the top do their best to find a way to avoid the distractions and keep their eyes firmly set on what they want to achieve.

I - inspiration: many of the interviews with athletes have cited stories of people being spurred on to success having seen the achievements of others.  Now, in turn, they are inspiring a new generation of successful individuals through their efforts. I'm sure many business owners have been inspired to do what they do by people or events, whether it be high profile celebrity entrepreneurs, family /friends or perhaps a cause which is close to their heart.  It can help to remember your original inspiration during the tough times in business to keep you 'on track' - and who knows, you may find that you provide the inspiration for a future generation of successful entrepreneurs!

R - reflection: again, the post-race interviews with athletes have been a great insight into their skill at reflecting on their performance, critically assessing it and learning from it so that they can go forward and improve still further - in many cases the athletes are already considering what they need to do to prepare for the Rio Olympics in 2016.  For entrepreneurs, reflection is a vital part of our business planning process, thinking about performance to date, analysing it and working out how to move forward.

E - energy/enthusiasm: who can deny the energy and enthusiasm of the athletes which is so tangible it pretty much jumps out of your telly screen at you! (I'd love to hear comments from anyone who was actually there to witness the events to see how it felt for you!) I'm sure I'm not the only one who finds this hard to maintain whilst cooped up alone in my little office, but it's something so infectious that I can't imagine that it doesn't have a positive impact on clients old, new and potential if your business communicates this.

D - drive/determination: just like the athletes who push on through whatever challenges they face (and lets be honest, some of them have overcome huge obstacles) the drive to succeed and the determination to see things are the factors which determine whether or not you achieve your goal. There are probably many aspiring athletes who have fallen by the wayside because they haven't been able to carry on through the tough times, and the world of business is just the same in this respect. For me, this is one of the most significant deciding factors for business success - after all,  you have to push yourself through the difficult times (applying all the factors above, of course) if you hope to survive as a business!

I'd love to hear your thoughts about things you've learned from the Olympics and Paralympics which you can transfer to your business.




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