Every other year we are treated to a masterful performance of athleticism, known as the Olympic Games. For the vast majority of us who watch the games, the main focus is entertainment. But, what else can us 9-to-5-businessmen glean from the event, the host cities, and the olympians themselves? When you look past the medal-winning highlights broadcast in primetime, you’ll find a treasure trove of tidbits that will inspire you to better your career and professional tact.
Sure, we’ve all heard of the hiccups in Sochi, from less-than-perfect hotel rooms to unfinished roads and overly “public” restrooms. Let’s not let this overshadow the tremendous feats that were accomplished: the building of venues to host 98 different events, the assembly of over 2800 athletes from 88 nations, and the coordination of broadcasting the Games for us all to see, just to name a few.
Even the very first Olympic Games would not have been possible without extensive organization, and each iteration typically includes more events, more athletes and the demand for incorporating the latest technologies, social or otherwise. The current edition in Russia proves this to be true, and to realize it was all accomplished in 7 years is mind boggling. Think 7 years is a lifetime to plan anything? Try finding an empty field, lay down some dirt for an infield, set up a hot dog stand and find 18 baseball players from 5 neighboring towns to play for a few hours. Now, do all that in 7 days.
What it all boils down to is planning. It is very easy to jump head-first into building something with nothing but excitement and determination. With a little bit of forethought, you can minimize the roadblocks that may avert you from the path to success. Let planning be your first step, and you’ll find the extra time spent up front will recoup itself ten-fold through the course of completing your task.
One of the overwhelming feelings found throughout the Olympic Games is pride. The host city overflows with it as the ringmaster of the largest international sporting event. The athletes beam with it as they represent their country and show off the fruits of their hard work. And we, the bystanders, burst with pride as we see our nation’s flag rise at the medal ceremonies.
We should look to the examples set by hosts and Olympians as guides to our jobs. Like the athletes, when we take pride in what we do, we achieve better results. Achieving better results typically brings rewards, which means a better job that becomes easier and easier to take pride in. And take pride in the company you work for, not just for your own personal accomplishments.
Professionalism (aka, Sportsmanship)
Just like in business, even the Olympics has its share of cynics. But the level of professionalism–or in this case, sportsmanship–is at its peak during the Games. The athletes recognize the blood, sweat, and tears shed by those attending, having shed them themselves. There is mutual respect between participants, even when their ideals or approaches may not align.
Personally, I feel that the Olympians who epitomize good sportsmanship best are the snowboarders, particularly the women. It is clear that they are all friends before rivals, share in each others successes, and in the pain of a nasty spill. Above all, they recognize that working together to better the sport will prove more fruitful than a focus on self-promotion. And it is working; Snowboarding has become one of the most widely broadcast Olympic sports, showing its rapid rise in popularity.
Let’s use the two-and-a-half weeks of festivities as an opportunity to reflect on how we can better approach our careers. By planning more thoroughly, taking pride in every aspect of our job, and working hand-in-hand with coworkers to promote each other and our companies, we can find ourselves looking forward to our work, and reaping the benefits that will come.