What elite athletes endure on their road to victory always amazes me. The hard work, the dedication, the mastery, the overcoming obstacles. Guaranteed the behind-the-scenes story of any one of them would serve to motivate and inspire.
Part of it has to do with their goal. What they strive for goes beyond what most of us can even dream of accomplishing in our lives: becoming the best of the best, #1 in the world, the indisputable champion, winning. The other part is how they get there: sheer determination.
So what can we, as entrepreneurs, take from their winning attitude? A LOT.
What Elite Athletes Can Teach Us About Success
Winning Takes YEARS of Preparation — Getting ‘good’ at something is relatively easy. All it really takes is doing it enough and you can call yourself a good whatever. But becoming the best at something takes perfecting every subtle nuance and THAT takes time. Hours and hours a day for YEARS.
The same holds true for business. There is no such thing as an overnight success (despite what the attention-grabbing headlines would lead you to believe). Every single success story put in their time to get there.
Failure is Part of the Journey — Before any of the gold medalists won on THE day, they lost. Chances are they lost a lot. The difference between them and all the rest is they kept on going, taking their failures as an opportunity to learn, perfect and become stronger.
Many of the most successful entrepreneurs talk about how their biggest failures were what set them up for success later. The lessons, the relationships, the insights, the personal growth all paved the path to their ultimate success.
It Starts and Ends With the Mental Game –Starting with a vision of defeat almost always guarantees that wish will come true. Coaches will tell you that it’s all about the mental game and getting that ‘winning’ attitude.
The fear of failure often keeps entrepreneurs from taking the chances they need to succeed. Whether it’s asking that Fortune 500 CEO to be your mentor or pitching your book idea to that literary agent at the networking event, it’s important to not let the fear of failure stop you from taking that leap.
Luck Does Not Trump Hard Work — Yes, luck does happen, but it’s random and unsustainable. Luck may get you one victory, one chance, one milestone, but hard work gets you many and for a long time.
In business especially, entrepreneurs have to create their own luck through hard work. That means getting out there and talking to people, pitching your idea, building those strategic relationships, energizing your team. Yes, luck will happen, but it’s unpredictable. Hard work, however, isn’t.
There’s No Room for Excuses — Ask any elite athlete and they will tell you that their coaches didn’t take any excuses for not showing up during training or on the day. If you want to become the best of the best, don’t expect to get a free pass because your not feeling up to it.
Excuses are an easy trap for entrepreneurs as well, especially during start-up. Unfortunately, customers, suppliers, employees really don’t care if you feel up to it, or are dealing with a personal crisis at home. They expect you to show up and get the job done.
Take Control of Random Chance — Just as luck happens with no real rhyme or reason, chance swings the other way with equal randomness. Part of winning is taking control of all the possibilities and removing them.
Similarly, entrepreneurs have to take control of potential risks — the loss of a key employee, a supplier problem, a PR crisis, a shift in the economy. Whatever random factors put the business at risk need to be controlled.