What Leadership can learn from Olympic Athletes

The Winter Olympics is well under way, captivating nations around the world and uniting them together in the arena of sport. What is it that fascinates people about sport? Is it the beauty of ice dancing, the acrobatics of snowbaording or the thrill of the downhill? Or is it something more, the uncertainty of the performance and the thrill of the journey to find out who will beat the rest. The truth is that performing and watching sport fulfills many of our human needs that are hard wired into us as human beings allowing us to have peak experiences which we all seek.

Years of training and preperation come down to a few games or a few seconds in some sports with the best person winning on that particular day. The best in the world may not win but the best person on that day will certainly. This is what I love about sport, it is so unpredictable and all about who can get the best out of themselves consistently over the time of the competition. Consistency at a high enough level is typically what it takes to bring home a medal. The top athletes that rise to the occassion the best, will be the victor.

This applies directly to the field of business where top performance of people on a daily basis or in a pressure situation is a key factor for success. What can business’s learn and take away from the field of elite sport? Having worked with professional athletes and been one myself here are 3 secrets of success that world class athletes use to perform to their best when it matters the most.

1. Preperation – if repition is the mother of all learning then preperation is the mother of performing. Take the time to prepare for the event. Book it into your schedule, make a plan of what to do to be able to feel totally secure/safe & confident when it comes time to perform. Act on it so that when the moment comes you can LET GO and express yourself.

2. State control – all behaviour is determined by your state. If you feel nervous you will behave nervously, if you feel strong you will be strong. To control how you feel will determine how you will behave when it matters most. You are incharge of your feelings, your feelings are not incharge of you. The fastest way to control your feelings is to “use your body” – if you want to be and feel confident then stand confidently, move confidently, show your face of confidence to the world and then see how you feel inside.

3. Be in the now – to come fully into the now and let go of the future and the past is the key to hitting the flow or zone where you perform out of your mind. The mind needs to be still, in the now & focused on the task at hand, not in the future or past worrying about what happened or what may be. To achieve this you can focus on your breath just before performing. When focused on your breath moving in and out of your nose your are here & now. Take deep breathes if feeling anxious, from your belly to your chest, in and out through your nose until you feel a sense of calm.

How will you apply these tips today? If you did put them into practice how would that benefit you? What would happen if you didn’t? My best to you in the arena of business and life.