What Business Leaders Can Learn From the Olympics

As we watch the Olympics, we see among the athletes an unusually high level of commitment and concentration. Most of these elite Olympians have trained for many years in the hopes of winning a gold medal.

In business, we don’t have the same sort of intense training for “make or break” events. Each day we learn a little bit more, and we often postpone critical commitments with the “there’s always tomorrow” mantra.

As a behavioral scientist, I’ve studied the similarities between athletics and business in search of broader principles that can be adapted for the business community. Here’s a checklist of some correlations that you can begin to implement into your professional and personal life to experience greater success and more personal fulfillment.

Singular focus–Stay committed to your core strengths. Trust your instincts and practice/build/serve in arenas within which you can compete effectively and profitably.

Stay dedicated–Make customer visits, talk to your front-line workers, and read up on your industry.

Set goals–People who set goals accomplish more, feel better about their daily work, and appreciate their work. Writing your goals on paper helps to engrain them into your emotional and physical efforts.

Let yourself be coached–Ask for feedback on your natural skills and deficits. Seek ways to blend your natural skills into your business practice and relationships, while working to overcome your weaknesses.

Listen to music–Watch the athletes as they relax, prepare and wait for their next event. What do they do? They listen to music. Research shows certain music helps us concentrate. It improves respiration, lowers blood pressure and increases endorphins.

Train for work–Exercising 4-6 hours a week will improve your productivity, concentration, self-image and stress levels.

Express appreciation–Thank those who have helped you get to where you are in life. We don’t succeed by ourselves. Show appreciation and publicly acknowledge those people who have sacrificed for you.

Vistage speaker Russ Riendeau, PhD., is a behavioral scientist and founder of The East Wing Search Group. He presents on recruiting and retention strategies. He’s authored five books on talent acquisition.

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