Yes, I have gotten sucked into the Olympic spirit. As you know, I am a fan of peak performance and the Olympics is the epitome of peak performance in athletics. I marvel at the dedication, persistence, and resilience to train for an event that only happens every four years. As viewers, we see that a gymnast’s routine took 2 minutes or a swimmer’s race took 50 seconds. As an athlete, a short duration of time is how their success is measured. Sure these athletes have competed at the national and world levels, however as a society we only follow the Olympics and the medals. This is what an athlete wants most of all – a gold medal.
The skill that Olympic-level performers possess over just good performers is the commitment to preparation. The never-ending training that includes mental, physical, and technical skills being pushed to the limit just about every day is the difference. Often, many of us get caught up in short term fixes and forget about long term development. Preparation is a constant feedback loop of goal setting, evaluation, planning, and execution.
In coaching so many people who have lofty goals, I have learned that the area that needs refinement is the evaluation stage, which leads to the planning stage. Most of my clients are clear on their goals, yet have no true plan on how to achieve them. Planning to train to achieve your goals can only be properly accomplished when a realistic evaluation is completed. Olympic athletes have coaches that constantly evaluate performance. The athlete knows their strengths, know their weaknesses and then are guided by the coach to train “up” those weaknesses with the proper protocol.
A mistake made by most in the evaluation stage is only focusing on technical skills. For instance, a sales person might think about improving performance through product education and learning new closing techniques. These seem obvious, however the true deficiency might be low energy levels leading to irritable mood, which in turn affects communication. This makes closing strategies irrelevant due to communication that has been compromised because emotional and physical skills were not optimal. Getting a proper evaluation from a co-worker, supervisor, and past clients would provide the realistic gaps in performance.
Once the real performance gaps are identified, creating a training protocol is the next step. Olympic athletes balance out short term gains for long term vision. It is easy to train something to fix a short term problem, it’s another thing to train a skill for long term development. What areas in your career can you look ahead and see where your skills need to be improved? Change is occurring so fast and so many industries are transforming before our eyes. Can you see trends in your career path that need to be addressed now? Of course seeing the future is guesswork, however it is a good idea to think four years ahead of what the competition will be like and how you need to show up.
Daily training is vital for new habits to become solidified and mastered. Plan when, where, and how you will train these necessary skills. Put it in your schedule. Maybe you need to learn a new software program. Put the training of learning this in your schedule that cannot be compromised. Honoring that time is the discipline required to learn new skills and achieve your goals. Think about what “your Olympics” is and what you need to do to achieve something special in four years.