How to Achieve Business Goals Like an Olympian

Throughout the London 2012 Olympics, which are heading into their second week we have witnessed feats of extreme dedication and human drive. These athletes have not become overnight successes, many toil  for a decade or more in their sports before finishing on the podium. What they do have in common is the intense desire to achieve success and the knowledge that this is their time to shine, to lay it all on the line.

How can we harness the same dedication, perseverance and patience to achieve our own entrepreneurial goals?

Start with a Long-Term Plan – Finish with Today’s Plan

I remember starting my business with plan which had the next 3-5 years outlined with specific steps and performance measures. This is very similar to the way high performance athletes train. Each Olympic cycle is called a quadrennial, which is broken down into smaller and smaller segments until the details for each training day are specified. Do the same with your business. How often are you taking the time to sit-down, review, adjust and plan?

Find the Internal Flame

Find an intrinsic reason to reach your goal. This will light the fire within that will burn no matter what others say or which obstacles you come across because it can’t be put out! It took Brent Hayden three Olympics to stand on the podium, that is 12 years. Since he was young double leg amputee Oscar Pistorius has had an intense desire to run in the Olympics; Friday he did and reached the semi-finals of the 400m in Track and Field! Having a meaningful reason for reaching your business goals keeps you motivated.

Set Performance Goals

Athletes set performance based goals, not results based.  To reach the Olympics athletes must meet specific performance criteria to qualify in events preceding. In a business goals of $X income or $Y profit (which are results) need to be broken down into what needs to be done on a daily basis to achieve them. For example how many widgets do need to sold or how many clients need to booked or called?

Be in it for the Long Haul – Celebrate Everyday Wins

Olympians don’t step onto the field of play without years of dedication to their sport. Entrepreneurs need be in it for the long haul. Starting and growing a business is not for the faint of heart, but it has been the most enjoyable part of my working life.

Sure, some businesses launch and have tremendous success early on, then they burn and crash like those rockets we made as kids. Instead ride a the wind like a kite. Keep your hands on the string, but as the winds change learn to change strategies with it so that you can soar for as long as possible.  Each day has at least one success; smile and celebrate it! Be patient, long-term success is much more rewarding.

Do Just Enough with Appropriate Volume and Intensity

Olympians do put a lot of effort into their training, however there is always a balance between stressing the body enough through training for it to both physically and mental adapt and incorporating appropriate recovery strategies. Entrepreneurs need to do the same to avoid mentally breaking down; they are notorious for neglecting vacation time.

There will be times in business when you have to do more work to get a project completed or launch new producted but, with appropriate planning you can add periods of recovery after these intense and volume laden times. Pushing too hard each day in training often leads to over training or injury which sets athletes back weeks or even months. The art is to do just do enough to keep the momentum rolling so that the joy remains.


Keep it Simple

Business growth always adds complexity. Greater complexity adds to the mental strain so, keep examining your business to create more simplicity.

Seeking the Peak: Finding, Creating and Being Excellence

The Vancouver 2010 Olympics and Paralympics relight the fire and energy I had as an athlete competing in Biathlon. As an Anti-Doping Chaperone, I had the opportunity to be on the field of play, in athlete areas and surrounded by world-class athletes.

This experience also reminded me of the sights, sounds and smells of competing in Biathlon and Cross-Country Skiing. Ole Einer Bjoerndalen, a celebrated and highly successful Norwegian Biathlete who is now in his mid-thirties, even said he would compete in Sochi 2014 when he will be close to 40 years old. We have such amazing athletes who have either grown up with disabilities or have overcome the loss of a limb to cancer or a spinal cord injury, competing at world-class levels. No longer are age and disabilities limitations for accomplishing anything world-class, athletic or otherwise.

To me, being an Olympian/Paralympian means being world-class, setting an example and inspiring others to follow. It also means finding ways around, through or over any obstacles in ethical, moral, legal and fair-play ways to reach your peak performance.

As a former national athlete, these past several weeks of athletic celebration inspired me to get back to my roots of training and competition. I aim to find and create excellence to become outstanding in my business, my personal relationships and my health.

This is not a single destination, but instead a journey with many steps. This means setting the new standards and adhering to everything I believe in, including myself, even when others don’t or won’t.

Remember, there will always be naysayers who will think you are not capable. I always have hope, create a plan and then take action. I remember last summer when I set a very high goal of knocking 17 minutes off my Grouse Grind time by my birthday. And that is exactly what I did.

I know how fit I was in 1999. I know that I was able to complete a marathon in 4:08 in 2005. When I was on the BC Biathlon Team, I didn’t have the confidence, but I had the talent to be on the National Team.

I now have the confidence, talent and knowledge to accomplish my athletic goals this summer. I plan to complete the Grouse Grind Mountain Run in 30 minutes and the Seek the Peak Race (16 km mountain run from Ambleside Park in West Vancouver to the peak of Grouse Mountain at 4100 ft) in under 2 hours.

The last things are training and smart work. I know this dedication to being the most fit I have ever been will translate to excellence in my business and my relationships.

Seek the Peak is my personal and business theme for 2010. How are you Seeking the Peak?

Let the Games Begin at Whistler Olympic Park

The Olympics are here! I could not sleep Tuesday night — I was too excited for Wednesday and my first look at the venues, not to mention the adventure of figuring out how to get up to Whistler Olympic Park (WOP).

Buses leave for the Whistler Sliding Center (WSC) and WOP from BCIT on a set schedule. I had a map, but decided to let some well-meaning volunteers direct me to the appropriate parking lot. I was there at 9:45 AM for a 10:00 AM bus. At five minutes to our scheduled departure, with no bus in sight, I thought, “This can’t be right.”
After asking one of the other loading personnel and being told that the bus didn’t leave until 10:50 AM, I knew I wasn’t in the right area. An astute woman intervened. Realizing that I was in the sliding centre parking lot (no signs were posted), she radioed the other bus to wait for me and then gave me a ride in a golf cart!

On the ride up we volunteers slept, read our books and got to know each other. With everything going on and very few signs to direct me after security, I turned the wrong direction and boarded a bus thinking it would take me to my venue. Something didn’t feel right. I rode the bus with some of the media, but without the people who were with me on the first bus.

Still, it was very exciting to see all the banners, flags, international media and athletes at the Olympic Venue. After a remote check and realizing I wasn’t in the right area, I called our contact number to get someone to help direct me back to the appropriate area to meet our coordinator. Eventually, I made it.

After our role briefing, we toured the Biathlon, Cross Country and Ski Jumping venues. As a former biathlete, I was jumping out of my boots with joy as we toured the Biathlon venue. I was filled with a sense of pride and gratitude to have a role where I am close to the action.

During our tour we were allowed to take photos as long as we didn’t have any athletes in them. I will post more during the next few weeks and after the games begin tonight.

When we parted at the end of the day, it was time to find the appropriate bus to get us home. A big group of us walked and walked and walked past many buses looking for the one to BCIT. It wasn’t there! The buses sit in a bit of a cul-de-sac and we went the opposite direction. With five minutes to go, we had someone radio the bus to have it wait until we got back to BCIT.

My day finished with a second golf cart ride (Thank you!) to the translink bus stop. I know I will have long days that will culminate in some special experiences.

I encourage everyone to go out and enjoy the atmosphere in Vancouver, North & West Vancouver and Richmond. There are many LiveCity events and pavilions to be enjoyed for free.

Excitement Building for Olympic Games Volunteer

In late November I invested a whole day in games time training for my volunteer role in Anti-Doping for 2010. I am very excited that I have been chosen to help make Biathlon, the sport I competed in for BC, a fair competition during the Olympics.

During registration we received a deck of playing cards marked Anti-Doping. They are still in the wrapping. I don’t think that will ever change. We started with an ice-breaker game to meet each other, we ended up with our our own cheering team. It started by each person challenging the individual sitting next to them to a Paper, Rock, Scissors game, with the winner continuing on and the loser cheering on the winner in the next round. It didn’t take long before I found myself as part of the final two. Which thankfully was a best of three. The eventual winner, a Doctor from Calgary won the first round, I won the second round and she won last one. The championship was a small gold plastic cup with “Golden Cup” scrawled in permanent marker on the side. (I will challenge her to a re-match when I see her again).

During the rest of the day we were shuffled from room to room for various topics and a well-catered lunch. Some of the information was very general to our role in Anti-Doping, including role playing difficult situations, while others material covered was very venue specific.
I have my shift schedule for the Olympics and know when I will be picking up my uniform, but have still to fully figure out transportation. One thing is for certain, transportation to Whistler is from BCIT, not far from where I live (phew). The organizers have been kind enough to leave us with at least one day between our long shifts to recuperate. VANOC is very good at ensuring that we are well prepared for our roles and that we will be supported at the venue.
As a former Biathlete, I am very excited to be assigned mainly to the Biathlon venue at Whistler Olympic Park. As an Anti-Doping Chaperone we get be on the field of play and interact with the athletes. These will be memories I will cherish for a long time.
Recent News – December 3rd, 2009 Top Ten World Cup Finish for Canadian Biathlete
Are you volunteering or hosting volunteers? I want to hear from you, so leave your thoughts and share your experience below.