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The Boomer Bulletin - 2012
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What Firm Leaders Can Learn From Olympic Athletes

Posted By Sandra Wiley, Wednesday, August 15, 2012
Updated: Wednesday, August 15, 2012

I am sure many of you were captivated by the 2012 Summer Olympic Games.  I love the events, but due to my curiosity about people and behaviors, I find myself "tuning in” when the athletes are being interviewed about what made the difference in their lives as they pursued their Olympic dreams.  It appears that the list of attributes that I have been recording as I listen to these professionals aligns perfectly to those that we teach in our Performance3 Leadership Academy.  Let’s take a look: 


You don’t have to be a sports nut to desire the attribute of determination.  This is as valuable to professional services firms as it is to Michael Phelps.  Determination is showing that you are 100% committed to the dream.   By showing commitment, opportunities will present themselves to you which you wouldn’t even know they exist otherwise.  Iron tight commitment is what will eventually lead you to success.  No matter what challenges occur, a committed athlete keeps training.  This is the price that is paid for ultimate success.


An Olympian is strong in mind.  As a firm leader, you need to stop listening to the bad voices around you.  Negativity only fosters more negativity.  Your primary focus as a leader is to instill confidence through positive thoughts and actions.  A strong mindset is a powerful weapon against the negativity around you and the firm.  Learn to pay gratitude to the small things in life that really matter.  It could be as simple as a sincere "thank you” or a hand written note.  Keeping strong is not about power, it is about staying on track for overall firm strength. 


There is no doubt that Olympians are hard working.  You need to learn the difference between hard work while unfocused and hard work with focus and intention.  Many people fail exactly at this point in their professional development.  They try really hard, all the while thinking that they are doing the right things, while in reality they waste a lot of their energy on unnecessary things that don’t fit with their vision.  There is nothing wrong with working hard – but you have to work smart to make it work.


Motivation can be a real turn off for most of us.  We are not always motivated.  I would say that no one is motivated ALL the time.  There will be days when an Olympic athlete will not want to train for his or her event.  On those days it is important to listen to your inner voice and make a decision that will move you strongly toward your target goals!  If you push yourself too hard, you will only achieve less than desired results.  On the other hand, you can’t be too soft on yourself or you will not hit the goals that you are aiming for.  It is a careful balancing act that needs to be monitored at all times.  If your dream is big enough, the motivation will follow.     

Ability to Deal With Adversity

Sometimes things will all seem to work against you.  No matter what you do everything goes wrong and even with the best of intentions it will be hard to stay on your chosen path.  Those are the times when you need to dig deep.  It is important to remember that you are doing your best.  You can only do so much as much as you can humanly do, and then give yourself a break, readjust your target and move forward. 

Optimistic and Positive Perspective

A happy predisposition is a great foundation to becoming an Olympic athlete.  It is also the way that firm leaders truly stand out to their team.   It is much easier to deal with every day challenges when you are naturally happy and easy going.  To keep a positive perspective is a learning curve most of us have to go through with the help of personal development and life experience.  All the other attributes of an Olympic mindset will help you in obtaining this perspective.  

Strong Focus

Focus on your intentions and they become reality.  Ever heard of the laws of the universe?  Sure you have and if not, time you learn that these universal laws have a lot to do with why certain people seem to have it all and others keep wishing for them.  The ability to keep focused will serve you well on your own quest in life.  Regardless of what it is you pursue, a focused mind set will help you get there.

High Stress Tolerance

High set goals can be stressful. Outer influences like family, friends, or events can put a lot of stress on you.  Stress that will make it very hard for you to stay on course.  This is when you have to dig really deep and summon all of your other attributes to help you stay focused.      

Use your guts, strength and desire! Go for the gold!

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