Lessons from the Winter Olympics

Sweat, hustle, and grind are all words that are used to describe athletes who work hard to master their craft. We also use these words to describe entrepreneurs and business people who put in more effort than others. The parallel between sports and business is apparent in this manner. There are examples of the best athletes crumbling under pressure or making mental errors having inferior athletes win out in the end. As I watch the 2018 Winter Olympics and see 17-year-olds like Red Gerrard and Chloe Kim go out and beat veteran snowboarders you wonder what separates them from the rest. Yet at the same Olympic games veteran world champions continue their dominance like Martin Fourcad in the men’s biathlon. What is the difference between the winners and losers?

 From my analysis of these athletes, it first comes back to belief. It is fundamental that these athletes have the belief that they can win a gold medal and perform at the highest levels. If you do not believe you can be an Olympic champion you will not have the right mindset, preparation and work ethic to be successful. While belief is key the second piece is the mindset to work harder than anyone else. Many people have a belief or dream but do they have the mindset to turn that belief into a reality. Red Gerrard who won the Men’s Slopestyle Snowboard competition fell on his second run and had to put up a score on his final run to have a chance at the gold. He believed he had the mindset that he was going to leave his best out on the course and crush it. When you get to the highest levels of your craft it no longer becomes about beating the competition it is a struggle with yourself. Chloe Kim had already won the gold the medal and on her final run, a throwaway run instead of just going through the course to not get hurt or just to finish and collect her medal she went all in. She wasn’t competing against others she was competing against herself. This is true in business you have to have the belief you can build a company as an entrepreneur and the mindset to actually execute.

 Olympic Gold

The next piece that is incredibly important is the preparation that goes into being an Olympic athlete and ultimately a gold medal winner. You can’t just wander off the street into qualifying and expect to compete at the highest level with no preparation. Every day you are working towards your goals when you choose to eat a healthy breakfast rather than a donut. When you decide to stay on the slope longer than everyone else. When you do more of the little things better than everyone else. Olympic athletes dedicate themselves to their crafts and dreams. In business, you must continually work towards creating the highest quality company based on your beliefs. If you are building a socially responsible company than your belief is the ability to create value through both profits and social impact. You must be committed to achieving those goals day in and day out.sochi-2014-262145_960_720The Winter Olympics are something I truly enjoy watching as athletes participate in sports I’ve never dreamed of playing and seeing their passion and determination. We as spectators have the ability to watch as athletes achieve their dreams and see the pain, agony early on in the competition and ultimately the exhilaration as they finish on top. The stories of pain and struggle with the outcome of victory are inspiring to all. We can connect to the pain and suffering others have been through and revel in their victories. The takeaway for me is that you must a dream worth believing in, working towards, and that will last. It all has to mean something greater. That passion, drive, belief, and persistence is what makes a great Olympian. In life and business, you have to find that same passion and drive in order to have the motivation to run towards the pain and suffering. Passion is thrown around a lot and my ideas around it are constantly changing. I don’t see passion as finding something that defines you for the rest of your life rather what is that in the next 10 years will make me happy. What could I do every day and go to sleep knowing I am one step closer to that future state.

With the inspiration of the Winter Olympics enjoy the stories and triumphs. Empathize with the athletes who come up just short. Take their stories and apply them to your life. What are your dreams that you can truly believe in achieving? Think big because it is easier to get passionate and motivated by a big dream like winning Olympic gold. Getting an entry-level job that barely pays for your student loans is much harder to work towards each day.

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