Olympic RingsNow that the Olympics has come to an end…It’s time to reflect and see what are some ways that entrepreneurs can take inspiration from these Olympic athletes?

One of my favorite parts of watching the Olympics this year was not just the competition or the emotional stories, but the feeling that that comes from seeing people who have worked so hard, for so long, to reach the ultimate pinnacle of their sport. Every Olympic champion who stands on the medal podium is the undisputed best in the world at what they do, and that’s an achievement that no one can ever take away from them.

How can we take this spirit of excellence and use it to inspire new success in our own businesses?

  • Work with drive, discipline and focus: Olympic athletes put in thousands of hours of work to get to the point of having one moment of opportunity on the world stage. Often the biggest attribute that separates Olympic champions from other gifted athletes is not their physical skills or strength, but their mental toughness, resilience, and ability to focus their minds for long periods of time on a single challenge. In your business, you might not be the biggest company in your industry, you might not be the fastest or cheapest option on the market, but what can you do to show an unparalleled ability to focus on your customers’ needs?
  • Take risks: Gabby Douglas is America’s new Olympic gymnast champion, taking the gold medal in the women’s gymnastics all around competition. Gabby’s story is unique because she took a big risk, at a young age, to follow her Olympic dreams. Growing up in Virginia, Gabby was watching the 2008 Beijing Olympics on TV when she saw American Shawn Johnson winning a Gold medal with her coach, Liang Chow. Gabby said to her mother that she wanted to train with that same coach – so at age 14, Gabby moved to Iowa to live with a host family so she could train at Chow’s gymnastics studio. Gabby was one of 4 children and her mother was a single parent, so it was a hard sacrifice for the family to make, but Gabby felt it was necessary to pursue her sport at the highest level. What risks are you willing to take to make your business succeed? What are you prepared to sacrifice?
  • It’s OK to be a little bit crazy: Olympians are not like “normal” people. Most people wouldn’t be able to put up with the punishing physical demands of training, not to mention the emotional endurance required to keep persevering the face of intense competition and high-pressure scrutiny from fans, media and TV viewers. No matter how good you are at your favorite sport, could you do it just as well if you were performing in front of 80,000 screaming fans? The last time you did a media interview or wrote a blog article or recorded a podcast for your business, was it instantly broadcast around the world to millions of viewers who were judging your every utterance and parsing the meaning? The point is, Olympic athletes are unusually willing to seek out the highest stakes competitions and the highest-pressure venues for their talent. They don’t get complacent and they don’t settle for second best. In the same way, entrepreneurs are often known for being a little, well, crazy. They tend to be uncompromising in pursuing a vision of what they want to create for their companies and achieve in their lives. Instead of settling for a steady, safe corporate job, entrepreneurs are striving for their own personal vision of “gold medal” performance.

How can you take inspiration from Olympic champions into your own business? How can you reach farther, try harder, and inspire your employees to band together as a stronger team?