The recently concluded Summer Olympics in Tokyo featured the greatest athletes from around the world competing for the gold medal in a variety of sports. It brings me back to my childhood when I would be glued to the television watching these men and women with their superhuman-like strength and speed. Today, as an adult, I’m still fascinated by the Olympics, but watching has also had a positive impact on my career.
Whether you’re a leader in retail with years of experience under your belt or just entering the workforce, pay attention to things like how Olympians prepare, focus, set goals, work through adversity, support their teammates, and handle defeat. Not only is it eye-opening and inspiring, but it will also help you be better in your career.
More specifically, here are eight lessons women in retail can learn from Olympic athletes:
1. Success Doesn’t Come Overnight
Olympic athletes don’t wake up one day and become great. They have been training for years, many since they were young children. If you want to be successful in business, the same holds true. Put in the work. Keep getting better. Stay focused on becoming the best. Success is there for the taking, but it doesn’t come easy.
2. They Don’t Give Up Easily
How many times have you thrown in the towel or procrastinated in your business? You were thinking, “it’s too hard” or “I’m not in the mood.” The road to the gold medal isn’t easy, and it requires immense concentration and dedication. The same is true in business. The road to success is filled with challenges and objections, but you have to stay focused and driven if you want to win.
3. Learn From Your Failures
How many Olympic stories can you think of when athletes failed to perform their best, chocked under pressure, or just made a silly mistake that cost them a medal? The same happens in business. Olympic athletes don’t just throw in the towel. They analyze what went wrong, learn from it, and come back even stronger than before. In business, you’re sure to mess up at times, but treat it as a learning opportunity to get better at what you do.
4. It’s All About the Team
Some sports like diving and gymnastics are about an individual’s performance, but in the end, it’s about the team, and more so, the country. The same is true in business. Your individual performance is a big part of the picture, but in the end, it’s about the team. Olympic athletes are always working together with their teammates and helping each other improve. Stop seeing your team as competition and start collaborating.
5. They Are Coachable
As great as Olympic athletes are, they all have coaches. They know the secret to getting ahead is putting their egos aside and being open to constructive criticism. A lot of people in business believe that just because they’re in the C-suite or the head of a department, that they know everything. The best in business never stop learning and are open to the many benefits that coaching brings.
6. They Have Goals
The No. 1 goal of Olympians is a gold medal. But to get there, they have all kinds of performance goals that they set in stone and that they know they must achieve to make it to the biggest stage in sports. In business, you can’t wing it, either. You must have clearly laid out objectives and goals, and you must be committed to meeting them whether the end goal is climbing up the company ladder, securing a contract, beating your competition, or something else.
7. Mental Health Matters
One thing the Tokyo Olympics has showed us is that mental health is important. In business, it’s easy to become stressed, anxious, depressed and feel a host of other emotions. It’s OK to take some time off, take a break, and come back when you’re in the right frame of mind. All work all the time is an unhealthy habit that many professionals have to break.
8. Anything is Possible
There’s not one Olympic athlete who believes they’re going to finish in last place. Ask any one of them how they will place, and you’ll hear that they expect to win a medal. In business, too many people lack the confidence in their own abilities or team and don’t expect big things. As a result, they never finish at the top. The first rule in business: Believe in yourself, your products, your services and your company. If you don’t, no one else will. Keep thinking bigger than what you think is possible.