With the London 2012 Olympics drawing to a close, it’s an opportune moment to look back and reflect upon what these athletes can remind us about being successful. As entrepreneurs we often forget many of the other elements that help you become successful, relying instead on our own ability alone. Unfortunately as you will see in this article, that alone is rarely enough.
Here are some great lessons for entrepreneurs from the London 2012 Olympics:
1) Competition makes you stronger.
I was watching some highlights of the marathon this morning and a famous athlete of past olympics emphasised just how important the inter-country rivalry is. Sometimes they trained harder simply because they thought the other country was better, meaning they pushed harder and faster to ensure their country stayed on top. This somewhat friendly rivalry helped them to stay focused in their training and to constantly be improving.
As entrepreneurs we often think what we are doing is good enough. We should instead, benchmark ourselves against the best out there and make sure we not only keep on par with competitors but also work hard to stay a few steps ahead. Competition is good for you, embrace it.
2) Nobody makes it alone
Nobody at the Olympics makes it alone and this was emphasised brilliantly yesterday by Bolt after the 4 x 100m final. He took the time to thank the universities that had gone out of their way to give him access to their facilities so he could train hard.
Even when training he is not alone. He has coaches and technicians alongside a medical team that analyse his performance and help make constant changes which help him become even faster.
Every athlete is the same. You can only go so far on your own, whilst expert coaching can perhaps take you much much further then you imagine.
As entrepreneurs we should also remember that whilst we can learn many things on our own, surrounding yourself by good coaches and advice is really the key to reaching your full potential.
3) It takes hours and hours of practice.
None of these guys woke up one day and simply became great a sport, they all tried, failed, improved and worked long and hard to get where they are. Of course we can say most of them do not have a day job, but they still spent many years of their lives training very hard (mostly thought their teens when the vast majority of us were getting up late and busy having fun).
They dedicated their lives to their sports and practiced incredible hard. Victoria Pendleton’s huge relief that she no longer has to train after giving up cycling should show just how hard these guys train to be at the peak of their sports.
We as entrepreneurs often think we are working hard, but are we really? Find a way to measure your progress and your successes so that you to can become a champion at what you do by practicing hard every day.
4) If you want to be the best then you have to look after your mind and body.
The way you move and the way you think really affects how well you do in a sport. Some athletes even believe mental strength to be one of the most important factors as it is what defines you in the years of training leading up to the Olympics.
Mental strength and physical strength are two components of a healthy person. Entrepreneurs all to often neglect both mental exercise alongside physical exercise.
Use London 2012 as a catalyst to help you begin developing both. Take the time to improve yourself mentally by surrounding yourself with successful people and reading more widely on topics that may help you. Take time to partake in regular physical activity also so your body remains fits and active. As an entrepreneur it will be not only immensely rewarding to be healthy but also hugely beneficial to your productivity and general well-being.
5) The Olympic village is a heck of a lot of fun.
Understandable really, here are thousands of young people who work really hard almost every day practicing their sport. They live by bedtime curfews, strict diets and strenuous physical routines.
So when all is said and done, they let their hair down and party like it’s the end of the world.
As entrepreneurs we also need to remember to let ourselves go at times too. Working hard is great for periods of time, but it is also important to release that energy too and just completely forget about your routines for a few days.
If you are the type of entrepreneur that works every hour you are awake, that does not remember what a weekend is and is losing touch with civilisation, then set yourself a number of weeks where you are always to work hard following by a period of time where you completely unwind, let go and party hard.
You will feel better for it, just like the athletes have proven.