What Makes Olympians Great (Part I)

Watching the opening ceremonies has always been something I looked forward to and this year was no different. Now watching them was much different this year as I was splitting my attention between the TV and the demands of my four-year-old daughter Maddie and two-year-old son EJ! Besides the performances that speak volumes about the host country, I love the storylines being told. It never fails that you will hear ones of triumph over tragedy, teenagers fulfilling their lifelong dream or the persistence of the “old” 20-year-old to get back to the Olympics. The Opening Ceremonies never fail to inspire and entertain.

The thing is, no matter how many stories we hear or how many times a story is told, we truly will never understand the sacrifices these athletes and their families made to get to this stage. The financial sacrifices families make. The lost years of just being a kid with your siblings and friends because you are hundreds of miles away from home training for what may be your one shot. Gabby Douglas is one example of these sacrifices which are discussed in a recent article in Success magazine. The article talks about her Mom going on disability at work, declaring bankruptcy and having faced foreclosure on the family’s home. It details how Gabby wanted to quit because she missed her siblings and she just wanted to run track, take dance class and work at Chick-Fil-A! Not only did Gabby let go of her dream, she went on to win Gold for individual performance as well a Gold for team performance. It is a great read which I highly encourage you to check out.

So what does separate Olympians from average performers? Below are 10 characteristics which make Olympians great and I will provide a snap shot(albeit it a small one) into how that relates in our lives in the business world. These are not all the characteristic nor are they in any specific order, but they are gold.

Olympians Have a Positive Attitude

No matter what you do in life this is the single most important ingredient for success.  Great thing is, we have a choice every day of what attitude we will embrace.  

The longer I live, the more I realize the impact of attitude on life.

Attitude, to me, is more important than facts. It is more important than the past, than education, than money, than circumstances, than failures, than successes, than what other people think or say or do. It is more important than appearance, giftedness or skill. It will make or break a company… a church… a home.

The remarkable thing is we have a choice every day regarding the attitude we will embrace for that day. We cannot change our past… we cannot change the fact that people will act in a certain way. We cannot change the inevitable. The only thing we can do is play on the one string we have, and that is our attitude… I am convinced that life is 10% what happens to me and 90% how I react to it.‚Äù

-Charles Swindoll


And so it is with you… we are in charge of our attitudes.


Olympians are Coachable

Fact is, the best ones are learning machines.  The greater the champion, the more open-minded they are to coaching.  Similarly, the clients who inquire about my Executive Coaching program are not the ones who need it the most, but rather the ones who “want it” the most!  Take a look at my business client list and you will absolutely see a roster of performers who have established success, but feel that they have much more potential. They are looking for that edge to help them Get Great.

Olympians Value Their Time

 Olympians may only one shot at fulfilling their dream of winning the Gold so they have a significant sense of urgency every day.  As author and mental toughness coach Steve Siebold stated, “Olympic athletes are extremely sensitive to time. They have a sense of urgency because they are operating at a level of awareness that constantly reminds them the present moment is all they really have.” Wouldn’t it be more productive if we didn’t wait until the end of the; day, week, month or quarter to have that sense of urgency? How about when we are getting ready to take off for that much needed vacation and need to be sure we have “things in order” before we go?  What if we operated with that sense of urgency and awareness of the value of time on a daily basis? Check out my 6 Steps to Successfully Planning a Powerful Day to help you with getting your days in alignment with your dreams!

Olympians Have a Passion

 There will absolutely be trying times and what keeps Olympians dedicated and on task is their love for what they do. At times, Like Gabby Douglas, they will have to dig in and remember “why” they are doing what they do. Aren’t there days we just do not want to make the next cold call or follow up call? Tap into your “why” you are doing what you do. Some days are not easy. You have to have a passion for what you do every day and some days you really have to lean on your love of who you do it for. Loving what you do, who you do it with and who you do it for are so powerful!

Olympians are Fixated on Their Goals

Goals are what drive us! They help us map out the path we are going to follow in order to realize our dreams. Basically, goals provide us the roadmap to success! Many have repeated it but it is written that Michelangelo said, “ the greatest danger for most is not in setting our aim too high and falling short; but in setting our aim too low, and achieving our mark.” Olympians think big! They are relentless in pursuit of their dreams and they have a singleness of purpose that most people will not take the time to discover and develop. What are your goals, what drives you? What is your singleness of purpose that you can draw on during challenging times?  Most folks give up on their goals after they have experienced a setback, but some just simply forget what their goals are. Like Olympians, expose yourself to your goals on a daily basis so that they are ingrained in your subconscious mind. Put them were you can see them throughout the day. Be relentless and Get Great!

In my next blog I will absolutely will provide you with one key characteristic (#’s 6-9 aren’t so bad either!) that would absolutely separate you from others in your industry. It is something that is so overlooked by the masses, but absolutely embraced by the elite!


Growing Through (Not Just Going Through) Crisis

Why vulnerability can be a powerful leadership asset