I find inspiration and motivation while watching the Olympic athletes compete. I find it fascinating learning about their back stories. Perhaps I may be past my prime, but there are lessons to be learned from these Olympians that can help us become champions every day.
Teamwork – Yes, this word is overused, but when practiced, it is powerful. The U.S. Women's Gymnastics Team is a perfect example of how individual athletes support each other. This is not a team sport where multiple teammates are on the field passing or blocking. These are athletes that perform their skill by themselves and it's up to them to succeed. However, the encouragement, shared passion, and comfort received from their teammates is powerful. Take time to "high five" your colleague or neighbor for a job well done. Knowing someone has your back is a powerful motivator to push on.
Continuously Improving – Most of these athletes have been doing this for many years and have held national or world titles. However, they are continually looking for ways to improve; like switching sides on the volleyball court or leading with a different foot on the triple jump. Why change? They are the best at what they do! They are the best because they are constantly looking for ways to improve and are willing to try something new. Perhaps you are the best mold maker in the world, but what are you doing to get better?
Setting Goals – As an Olympian you will always be measured and compared. There is no hiding from this fact. Setting goals based on these measurements can you give you and your team a focus to embrace the goal of continuous improvement.
Dig deep when it is time – Michelle Carter won the women's shot put with an incredible final throw. She upset the four-time world champion and set a new record while doing so. We can all become discouraged when faced with incredible obstacles, but it is up to us to dig deep. Driving to the customer to fix a problem or staying late because you have a critical project due is no different than making the final clutch throw. Know when it is time to rally.
Failure is Inevitable –Winning always feels good, but when you put yourself out in the global arena, failure can be imminent. Most of these athletes come to the Olympics with multiple failures and defeats within their career. This has not stopped them from continuing to compete as world class athletes. Taking calculated risks with potential failure is part of the deal to advance. When was the last time you stepped outside your comfort zone?
Dedication – It's up to you to believe in yourself and deliver. Teammates, friends, and family can be great sources of motivation. However, when it is time to get out of bed at 5:30am to start your 5th day of training, it's up to you to do it. Yes they are probably tired but they created a training plan and they are dedicated to accomplish it. This is no different than your busy work day and family life. It's up to you to bring the dedication.
Enjoy what you do – Usain Bolt enjoys every minute of his career. He engages with both his fans and his competitors. At first glance you may think his showboat antics are cocky because he is the fastest man in the world. If you watch him long enough you realize he is having fun and bringing his sport to the front page When was the last time you deliberately sat down to watch a 100m or 200m sprint? Even more compelling is that we probably knew the outcome already. You watched it because it was exciting and it made you feel good. I loved to see the camaraderie he has with his fellow athletes. I watched the 200m semifinal several times because I loved the joy that his Canadian competitor De Grasse had racing him. Who smiles that much the last 10 meters of any race? His amazement to see his South African friend Van Niekerk set a world record in the 400m was infectious. Have fun while encouraging teammates and competitors.
I may have missed a few more examples, and I would enjoy seeing other contributions to this list. In the meantime become the champion that you strive to be!