What Makes Olympians Great (Part II)

In my last blog I identified the first 5 of 10 characteristics that have been proven time and again to significantly contribute to Olympians greatness. They are the absolute best of the best and it did not happen overnight. People often say that, “leaders are made and not born.” Well, they are made but they are born too. Show me a great leader who has never been born! In all seriousness, they are made and it is a process that involves a true commitment and focus. In the first blog we identified some traits that will help you get started on your way to becoming great if not greater. Now we are going to jump into the fray and expand our comfort zone on a daily basis. This is where you start running away from the solid achievers and develop into an elite performer.

I urge you to not speed read this blog. Also, go back and re-read the previous blog and take some time to reflect on your professional and personal life and where you are at with these skills and traits. If you just mumbled in your head that you will do it when you have time, then that means you will get around to being great when you have time. The true power in this list is the fact you can apply each and every one of these into your own life immediately.

A few years back my wife and I were talking about our careers and how things were going with each other’s work. Like myself, she was and still is in sales and driven by the incentive of commissions. After she got done laying out a situation I realized the similarities of some issues we were both having and then something dawned on me. I told her, “you can either be the person who stands around the water cooler at work and talks about other people or you can be that successful person that everyone at the water cooler stands around and talks about.” I love the people I work with and consider them good friends, but they are not my “why” I do what I do. If you work on these skills and traits and really dial in, then they will set you apart and launch you to an elite level and help you to realize your dreams.

Again, these are characteristics that separate Olympians from average performers. I am going to provide a snap shot (albeit a small one) into how they relate to 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 Strong Inner Circle

We are the average of the five people we spend the most time with. There is a huge support network behind every individual success story at the Olympics and it is no different in the business world. Your inner circle is vital to your success and it would behoove you to have people who are positive and productive. Folks who support your dreams and truly want what is best for you. They share in your beliefs and you can have meaningful conversations with which sometimes will include tough talk. They will also be people who can help you combat loneliness as you become extremely successful. As your success grows more people are going to want something from you and it is critical to be able to have true friendship without an agenda attached. Think of your Inner Circle as your own authentic “tight-knit” community which helps you to grow.

Olympians Work to Have Balance in Their Lives

This is much more challenging if not almost impossible for Olympians to have, but they try their best. In my 6 Steps to Successfully Planning a Powerful Day there is a Practice Plan attached which is your daily plan. There is a section on there titled ‘Conditioning’ and that is absolutely the activities that give you balance in your life. They go back to your core values and who you are as a person. Those activities help strengthen your family relationships and friendships. They also include things like volunteer and charity work, adventures and workouts.

Olympians are Accountable

There are so many different levels of accountability for Olympians including workouts, diet, studies, media, etc. They have people to keep them on task and hold them accountable. Who is or are your accountability partners? If you do not have an accountability partner I highly recommend you get one immediately. Accountability partners provide you a ‘reality check.’ They provide support and encouragement and regular check-ins which help you follow through on your commitments and stay in execution mode.

Olympians Embrace Conflict

Very simply, when it comes to adversity and conflict Olympians ‘Run to the Fight!’ They believe that with opportunities come obstacles and with obstacles come opportunity. Opportunity to get outside your comfort zone and grow. Most people run into an obstacle and seek escape. Olympians have a plan to push forward and the turn unexpected learning experiences into rich learning experiences. They know facing adversity is part of being successful. In business, we deal with adversity on a daily basis. Are you one of those who sit and talk about the challenges and the enormity of what lies ahead? Or, do you just roll up your sleeves and dive in head first to not only ‘Accept the Challenge’ but to learn and grow from it?

Olympians Perform Under Pressure

 How many times have you heard an athlete say they were just “in the zone” after a great performance. As an athlete the feeling is somewhat indescribable as time seems to slow down and things just seem easier. As a coach or fan, it is pretty cool to witness. This trait is the one I mentioned as my x-factor and game-changer in the business world. If it can separate a great athlete from other great athletes what could it do for you in a business environment?

Being ‘in the zone’ is not about perfection, but about staying in the moment and having laser-like focus. Research shows that anyone in a very stressful occupation or role such as successful surgeons or emergency responders, has to learn the same psychological skill that Olympians employ to stay in the zone. They learn how to replace negative thinking, doubts and worry with complete attention to the task at hand.

This my friends will give you an edge and it will help you to Get Great!

No it is not as easy as just “putting your game face on” before your next meeting or presentation. But it is very doable and in my next blog I will map out the psychological skills that will help you get to that place where you can get ‘in the zone!’


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