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Olympian Triumphs & Trials (And How to Avoid the Latter)

Aug 17, 2007
Even if you're not a sports nut, the drama from the XX Winter Olympic Games yielded many lessons that apply to both business and life. Here are just a few lessons learned over two spellbinding weeks in Turin:

Athlete: Lindsey Kildow, US Women's Alpine Skiing

What she did: Suffered a horrific crash going 50mph during a training run for the Women's Downhill and emerged from the hospital, determined to race less than 2 days later. A favorite to medal and ranked 2nd in the world in World Cup downhill standings, the 21-year old pushed through the pain to compete and ended up in eighth place.

Lesson learned: Winston Churchhill said, "Courage is going from failure to failure without losing enthusiasm." Expect ups and downs along the way to your goal. See any "defeats" merely as setbacks. Learn from them and move forward. Remember, when these athletes suffer a defeat, they have to wait four more years to try again! If you suffer a setback, don't wait four years. Get up and start over tomorrow.

Athletes: Barbara Fusar Poli and Maurizio Margaglio, Italy, Ice Dancing

What they did: After stumbling near the end of their original dance program, Fusar Poli and Margaglio attempted to stare each other down for nearly 30 seconds at center ice for all the world to see. Although they came into this part of the competition in first place, they literally tumbled to seventh and could only manage to pull themselves back up to sixth.

Lesson learned: Accept wins and losses as a team effort especially when the game is still in play. Instead of pointing fingers in public, move forward by forming a mutual strategy on how to handle damage control, minimize losses, as most importantly, figure out how to get back into the game.

Coach: Bjornar Hakensmoen, Norwegian Cross Country Skiing

What he did: When Canadian skier, Sara Renner was leading in the third lap of a six-lap relay, her ski pole snapped. Falling quickly to fourth place, she struggled on until a complete stranger, Hakensmoen, handed her a pole. Her team went on to win the silver medal. Norway finished in fourth, just out of the medals. Said Hakensmoen, "Nobody in Norway has said anything bad to me. They expect me to do that. Winning is not everything....If you win but don't help someone when you should have, what win is that? I was just helping a girl in big trouble."

Lesson learned: Let your values and ethics guide you. Helping others can often earn you greater satisfaction than capitalizing on their misfortunes along the way.

Athletes: Prawat Nagvajara, Thailand and Arturo Kinch, Costa Rica, Men's 15K Classical Cross Country Skiing

What they did: The sole representatives from their countries in the Winter Olympics, both men paid their own way and finished nearly 30 minutes behind the gold medallist. Far from being disappointed at finishing in last and second to last place, both relished the experience. Said the 48-year old Nagvajara, "Just being here is enough....I can help people believe they can do anything."

Lessons learned: As fellow Olympian, Robel Teklemariam, the Ethiopian skier who finished 84th out of 97 said, "Dream big, man. Because you just never know."

Athletes: Lindsey Jacobellis, US & Tanja Freiden, Switzerland, Women's Snowboard Cross

What they did: Despite having a commanding lead in the finals of the Snowboard Cross, Jacobellis lost the gold medal when she fell going over the second to last jump after performing an unnecessarily risky "method air" freestyle snowboard trick. Freiden capitalized on the American's mistake and slid into first place. While Jacobellis, the reigning world champion in this event, said she was just trying to "have some fun," her coach said "I was yelling at the TV the whole time, 'Keep racing! Keep racing!'" Freiden said, "I knew I had to concentrate because you're never finished until you're finished."

Lesson learned: Don't hand your competitors success on a silver platter. Never, ever stop racing.


Citius, Altius, Fortius--Latin motto of the Olympic Games, translated as Faster, Higher, Stronger.

Interested in having your company achieve a personal best in 2006? Answer the following questions and begin writing your game plan for a gold medal season:

1. What does your company do extremely well?

2. How do you measure and track results?

3. How can you improve upon your strengths? (faster service, higher standards, stronger products?)

4. What sort of "training" will keep you on the cutting edge?

5. What can you learn from your competition?

Just a few careful minutes of planning can make all the difference in your bottom line.

Remember, keep racing.
About the Author
Want more tips like this? Pick-up your free subscription to The Success Hot Sheet and some nifty bonuses at http://www.readytoevolve.com. Kim Nishida is the author of the innovative programs, Stop Wasting Time! and Conception to Completion, helping you realize your company's full potential.
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