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5 Olympic Lessons You May Have Missed

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The 2012 Olympics lived up to its expectations. We watched the world’s greatest athletes break records and bring home the gold.  In all the excitement, what did you learn from these world-class athletes that can help you achieve your goals?   Here are 5 lessons learned you may have missed:

1. The field is rich with talent; you need more than a physical edge – The world’s best athletes prepared for this chance of a lifetime. How do you win?   Dedication to the work it takes to compete at this level just gets you in the game.  Mental toughness, focus and a strong will are critical to win.  In his fourth Olympic appearance, Michael Phelps surprised some with his countless gold medals. He faced tough competition, but found the inner strength to get the job done.

– Give yourself the best possible chance to win – Continuously develop your skills.  Confidence, not arrogance, and a winning, team-inspired attitude will get you through the challenges.

2. Great coaches never stop coaching; great athletes never stop being coachable – Which coaches did you see giving advice, encouraging and inspiring, praising effort and building the confidence of their athletes before, during and after competition?  Did you watch the demeanor of the athletes? Gabby Douglas was always receptive to what her coach had to say. The best realize they’re never too good to learn and improve.

– Listen to constructive feedback from your manager and teammates. Seek the advice of a mentor who can help you with the skills you need to improve. 

3. Win with grace, lose with grace – You could tell which of the athletes who were humble; simply happy and honored to be there fulfilling their life’s dream.  Hurdler Felix Sanchez from the Dominican Republic was so grateful, he cried almost uncontrollably during the medal ceremony.  On the contrary, gymnast McKayla Maroney forgot that non-verbals speak louder than words, especially at such a visible and prestigious moment in history.

– First of all, pick your battles wisely. Make sure the hills you decide to die on are worth the consequences….there are always consequences. Show grace, win or lose.  

4. Practice the hand-offs; mistakes can be costly – Did you see the smooth baton handoffs for the US men’s and women’s track relay teams? They learned from past mistakes and realized that the handoff is one of the most critical skills in the race. Either nail it, or you’re out of the game.

– Recognize your handoffs in customer facing processes. Do you nail them or leave performance to chance.  Use proven Lean and quality tools to perfect execution and customer outcomes. Every team member at each leg has to do his job perfectly to win customers.

5.  Give 110% until the ‘fat lady sings’ – In both Women’s Volleyball and Soccer, the teams were ready for the challenge during their gold-medal rounds. In Volleyball, the Brazilian women commanded the match after the first set to win gold. The US Soccer team squeaked out a win over Japan 2-1. In contrast, a disappointing performance for Russian gymnast, Viktoria Komova spurred this comment:  “She does not fight until the end.  If something goes wrong, she seems to give up.”

– Even when things don’t go your way, finish strong.  If you fall, get back up and finish the race. Respect the professionals in your ‘sport’. Give your all? Winning is still possible.   Give up? Winning is impossible. 

Take your steps toward greatness

Let the excitement of Olympic success motivate you to live your dreams.  Here are steps you can take toward achieving your greatness:

  • List one important goal
  • Pick one or two lessons from the Olympics that you can build on
  • Outline a plan with timeframes for key milestones
  • Share your goal with someone you trust to help you stay on track
  • Dedicate yourself to the mission and put in the hard work to succeed.

Ready, Set, GO!


© 2012 EiGL Consulting, LLC

Vivian Hairston Blade is President & CEO of Experts in Growth Leadership Consulting, LLC  (EiGL Consulting, LLC) based in Louisville, KY.  EiGL Consulting, LLC works with companies to build high performance, high quality, and high service level leaders and teams.

Vivian is a recognized expert, keynote speaker, trainer and executive coach in the principles of Customer Experience, Lean Six Sigma and Leadership Development.  She has a deep appreciation and passion for connecting with people. This passion, combined with warmth and humor, resonates with audiences.  Through her workshops and presentations, attendees learn tools and tactics to create positive and lasting change for both company and co-worker.

Contact Vivian at 502-419-2733 or /  


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