As our athletes set off for the Winter Olympics, whether you are into sports or not, we wish them well. It is a tough journey they are on.
A few years ago I had the privilege of meeting a couple of the women who were part of the Canadian team when the Games were held in Vancouver. When you learn about the sacrifices they and their families made in order to compete, you realize that without that determination, they wouldn't be able to turn up and perform. In order to keep on top of their game, some of the women couldn't hold down a full time job, because they had to train all the time.
But we could learn a lot about the mindset they cultivate in order to compete successfully, never mind have a place on the podium. Recently I heard Jonathan Fields say that "your mindset is the heartbeat of success." I like that, because without a positive, determined mindset you could never get over the different challenges and obstacles that can interfere with your path to success.
We once had panel of athletes speak at a Company of Women dinner, one, a female boxer talked about how she primed herself before entering a contest, and she shared that she would visualize herself winning, just as other athletes vision themselves on the podium with a medal. Another athlete had affirmations all over her house, posted on walls, mirrors, reminding her to stay positive and that she would win.
As business owners, we could use this same strategy to overcome the fears that we might have - such as public speaking - where we could see ourselves on the stage, speaking articulately and with the audience applauding our presentation.
However, visioning alone is not enough. It is also about focus, about preparation and pure determination to succeed. Having laser focus ensures that you are paying attention to the important aspects of your business, and not being sidetracked by other projects that could get in the way of your success.
Just as what you eat before a competition is important, likewise what you feed your mind is crucial too. In business you want to be surrounded by folks who believe in you and have a team of bright people who contribute to your success.
But no matter what you do, life can happen and you can fall right before the finish line, just as Paralympics Champion Bonnie St. John did. She observed "people fall down, winners get up, and gold winners just get up faster."
In her recent interview with Forbes' she noted that like athletes, entrepreneurs need to be prepared to work hard, have relentless focus on the big goal, with a strategy in place and to be adaptable. Innovation and perseverance will help you get and stay ahead.
What she didn't say in this article, and yet I know to be true of her (I've met her) is having a sense of humour is vital, and she has that in spades. It is little wonder that she was a successful athlete, who has become an even more successful entrepreneur and leader.
As we watch our athletes, let's applaud their enthusiasm, guts and courage to represent our country and let's see what we can learn from the weeks ahead.