What can Olympic Athletes teach Entrepreneurs?

OLY HKW Canada United States 20140220 TOPIXIf you’re like most Canadians I know, you were up on Sunday morning watching the Olympic men’s hockey team beat Sweden and earn their gold medal. Likewise, you were probably huddled around the computer in your office on Thursday afternoon watching the women’s hockey team defeat USA and earn their back-to-back gold medal as well.

It goes without saying that both of these teams got to the podium with determination, focus and training. Of course, they’ll take their well-earned rest, but after a few days they’ll be back to honing their skills because they know that they’ll have to prove they’re still the best during their next Olympic appearance. Entrepreneurs can learn many things from Olympic athletes and apply these lessons to their business operations. Here are three key lessons I’ve picked up from Olympic athletes this year:

Olympic Athletes Never Stop Training: Just because the teams have won the gold, do you think they’re going to lose their resolve? Olympians have to make sure they never lose the edge that got them their gold in the first place, which means they’re constantly looking for ways to maintain or improve their techniques for their next Olympic appearance.
Takeaway for Entrepreneurs: There should never be a time on your entrepreneurial path where you stop maintaining or improving skills that will help your business achieve growth. Sharpening old techniques and keeping up with new trends will ensure that your business continues to prosper.

Olympic Athletes Know They Didn’t get to the Podium on Their Own: When an Olympian receives their medal and talks to the media, they never say that they made it to where they are by themselves. The support they receive from their family, friends, and coaches is instrumental to getting them onto the podium.
Takeaway for Entrepreneurs: There isn’t a single entrepreneur that’s reached their level of success on their own. Support from family, friends, and mentors have helped entrepreneurs everywhere reach levels that they never thought were possible.

Olympic Athletes Know Their Goal, and Stop at Nothing to get it: For an Olympian, the goal is obvious – go for the gold. For these athletes, there is nothing more they want than to be on the podium accepting the gold medal for their country.
Takeaway for Entrepreneurs: As an entrepreneur, you should always have the gold in your sights. You need to have goals for your business, be it fiscal or personal. Having goals will give your business something to strive for, allowing your focus and resolve to influence your team.

You may feel like your business has reached the pinnacle of success, but there is no such thing when you’re an entrepreneur. The reality is, you can constantly grow your business, constantly learn new skills, and constantly try to take your business to the next level.

Making goals is easy – Sticking to them is the challenge.

The beginning of the year can be hectic for entrepreneurs. Once the year has settled in, it becomes far too easy to lose the focus and determination you had at the beginning of January. As I mentioned in one of my recent blog posts, I’m not a fan of New Year’s resolutions, yet I still find myself being more focused at the beginning of the year. It takes dedication to keep that focus going, and it becomes more difficult as the months pass by. Anyone can stay determined for a month, but it takes a lot of strength and willpower to stay determined for an entire year.

There are many things you can do to stay focused on the goals you’ve set for yourself, and these are just a few things I do on a regular basis to stay focused.

Making sure that you have clear goals for yourself is very important, but it’s also important to be realistic about them. Instead of telling yourself “I’m going to reach a certain goal by the end of the year”, break them down to weekly or daily tasks. Doing this is an easier way to keep yourself accountable to your long-term goals, and it’s also easier to check things off when they come up instead of auditing yourself at the end of the year.

An important part of staying focused is also making sure that you’re taking the necessary time for yourself to unwind. I’ve been talking at length in the past few weeks about how I have been unwinding with some close friends on my beer league team of the Screaming Eagles. It’s important to find a past-time that you not only find entertaining, but that also lets you completely escape and forget about the stress that was brought about from your work.

Another way to de-stress is to simply unplug yourself from your smart phone and e-mail for about an hour or so before you go to bed. While that may seem challenging to those of us who are constantly checking our e-mails, and may also seem counter intuitive to staying focused, but no one can operate on a 24/7 basis and over-working yourself is one of the traps that entrepreneurs fall victim to that makes them lose sight of their goals.

These are just a few ways that you can stay focused this month and, in reality, for the rest of the year. Now that the first month of the year has passed by, this is the time where you can prove to yourself that those goals you made for yourself weren’t just for show – now it’s time to attain them.