Tuesday, August 07, 2012

Are you watching?

For the past 2 weeks, the 2012 Olympic Games have been plastered over TV stations, radio conversation, twitter feeds, and facebook posts. It's been a highly talked about Games and why shouldn't it...it's the Olympics; a sporting event that takes place every 4 years where the top athletes in the world come together and compete. However, it is much more than that. It is an event that connects countries around the world around themes of determination, commitment, excellence, heritage, etc. and brings friends, families, communities & countries together. It teaches us lessons - more than just who is winning or losing - but the foundational lessons around performing at this level of greatness, how to win & lose respectfully, and the efforts to achieve excellence in sport & life. And this has inspired today's swimupstreamlife post.
Let's start by asking you "Would you leave everything behind and trek 1,000 miles to an unfamiliar place and dedicate the next two years of your life to the pursuit of your passion?"
One young Olympic hopeful did.
Was it worth it? Just ask sixteen year-old Gabrielle Douglas. And although we are Canadian at heart...this young US athlete has one hell of a story to tell.
2 years ago at the age of 14, Gabrielle Douglas left her family, friends, and school to move 1/2 way across the country and seek out exactly what it would take to become the 1st US gymnast to claim both the team and all-around gold medals in a single Games - only 2 years later. 
So for all the young entrepreneurs out there...what can we learn from this young Gold Medalist? 
1. Develop mental toughness.
Many people worried about (Gabrielle's) mental toughness ... But she demonstrated that she can handle it, that she can handle the toughest job on the biggest stage there is. 
Is mental toughness important for success? You bet! 
In sports, mental toughness is defined as the ability to focus on and execute solutions, especially in the face of adversity. In business - it's no different! You must prepare mentally every day ... to dramatically improve your focus and ability to execute consistently - no matter the stage, pressure, or issues there are. You either step up or step out. Period. 
2. Turn skeptics into believers.
It is obvious that Gabrielle was physically prepared or else she would have never got as far as she did. However, her progress and development as a gymnast apparently was unprecedented. Her coach, Martha Karolyi, mentioned, "lots of people had a question mark ... She had such a great improvement, it's incredible in such a short time. I haven't seen any gymnast go from an average good gymnast five months ago to climb up to be the best in the world. That's the truth."
The same skepticism that probably swarmed her day in and day out....is also often felt by breakout entrepreneurs.
While some may admire your natural talent or skills, they may not believe that you have what it takes to go from good to great at mach speed. It's evident, even at Olympic competitive levels, that people will doubt your resolve. But never let another person's doubt become the judge and jury of your future success.
Instead, embrace skeptics and turn them into believers by taking what might appear as 'impossible' and make it 'possible'. 
3. Seek out proven mentorship.
While there's much to be said for Gabrielle Douglas' raw ability, we'd be remiss to not consider the proven leadership behind the young Olympic champion. She didn't travel 1,000 miles across the country for no reason. She made the sacrifices and surrounded herself with the best. 
Chow, a former gymnast and the personal coach of the 2008 Olympic gold medalist, Shawn Johnson, is no stranger to developing world-class champions. With two back-to-back Olympians now under his belt, there's no question that he has what it takes to turn raw talent into breakout success. And entrepreneurs should look for those same characteristics when choosing a business coach or mentor.
As entrepreneurs look for a mentor to help them navigate building a successful company, it's important to seek out individuals with proven expertise, credibility and most importantly results. Surrounding yourself with those that can take you to your 'gold medal' is key for not only business but for life. 
In Summary. 
When you are sitting back and watching the remaining days of the 2012 London Olympics or watching future Games - take the time to soak in the stories, reflect on the performances, and learn fron the journey's of World's Greats...because they are there for a reason. 

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