Wow, where has the summer gone? And with the summer drawing to a close so has the Olympics. And what an Olympics we’ve had! Team GBs best ever Olympics with an amazing 67 medals! Go Team GB! That success got me thinking about what’s common between our top athletes and sportsmen and business success.
Vision, goals and drive to succeed
When you want to achieve something what do you do? Do you start with the end in mind? Do you picture the end result in your head? Do you visualise what success looks like?
We are not all driven to achieve the same things or goals. And for some it can be hard to pin-point what the goal actually is. Identifying your goal – what you want to achieve - provides vision.
A vision for what you are aiming for; the top of which ever mountain want. It’s your end game, you want to get there and you need to stay super focussed on succeeding.
Success means different things to different people and businesses. For some success may be reaching the top of the mountain, for others it may just be getting to the first basecamp. You see it aplenty in the sports arena where some competitors are continuously striving to be better than the competition; while others are continually driven to beat their own personal best.
We all have different goals. The commonality is the drive to reach the goal. That drive propels us forward - we try harder, we get stronger and we reach higher.
One thing that really helps businesses grow is to have a clear vision of where the business will be in the future - 1, 3, 5 years’ time. I’ve even heard super successful business owners say their vision is actually 10 years plus. Do you have a vision for your business in say 5 years’ time?
To succeed businesses need vision, goals and drive.
Being passionate about what they do
Have you ever done things that just don’t quite fit? Things that you are quite capable of doing but just don’t float your boat?
How have you done? OK, but not great? Yup, thought so. What happens when you do something that you’re passionate about? Do you get a different result?
We all have things that make us ‘tick’; things that light our fire. A fire centred deep in our core. It’s something hard-wired internally. It’s passion.
Top athletes follow their passion, their hearts and their dreams. Being passionate about what you do and following your dreams makes everything you do more enjoyable – it’s not a chore. Passion also helps provide the relentless enthusiasm and energy needed to keep going when the going gets tough. And growing a business is tough - it’s not all plain sailing.
Being passionate about your business not only helps you tough it out when the waters get rough, but passion comes with another bonus. If you are passionate and believe in what you are aiming to do, you’ll find it easier to take others on the journey with you too.
Dedication and hard work
“If you want to be a record breaker, dedication’s what you need.” Yes, I was a child in the 80’s and remember well the children’s TV programme with Cheryl Baker.
For those who may not know, the programme was focussed on smashing world records for all sorts of activities. To be in with a chance of smashing a record, participants would put in a lot of practice and hard work before they even attempt smashing the record.
In the sports world, competitors dedicate their entire lives to their sport. It can be all they do – day-in, day-out. It’s the hours of hard work and practice they put in to reach the top of their game, and even more dedication and hard work to stay top of their game for any length of time.
In business, it doesn’t matter whether you are a start-up or a multi-national; you need to be dedicated to building your business, achieving your goals and being prepared to put in the hard work to get there.
Baby steps to get fitter, faster and stronger every day
Aggregation of marginal gains: the concept of making tiny improvements in several areas leading to a remarkable overall improvement.
This concept was used by the British cycling team in aiming to win the Tour de France. The performance director of the team believed that a 1% improvement in everything the team did would tally up to a significant improvement overall. Through aiming to optimize every area related to cycling from making conscious, continuous improvements resulted in Britain winning the Tour de France for the first time in 2012.
Sports people continuously improve their performance with little improvements every day. They break down their performance into individual areas and focus on each. They aim to optimise each. The result is they get fitter, faster and stronger every day.
How does this translate to business? To make a business fitter – more profitable, more efficient, more effective, bigger, better than the competition – requires action. Take time to identify the areas to focus on, and then develop an action plan to improve those areas.
Many businesses get stuck, daunted but the scale of the improvement or action needed. Get unstuck; break it down. Baby steps - small but steady actions - lead to success.
Support from the best of the best
Top sportsmen do not become the best on their own. They have a team of people around them. They employ the best coaches, physios, nutritionists and use the best equipment.
The same applies to business. Big names in business like Richard Branson haven’t achieved it all alone. Yes, they have led the way but they have sourced specialists, advisers and mentors to work with them on their journey to achieve success.
No one person can be an expert in every area of running or growing a business, nor should they expect to be. Consider your strengths and weaknesses and those of others in your business. For weaknesses consider seeking out help – even if that’s only on an ad-hoc basis. Specialists will see things differently, be able guide you to success more quickly and take away the stress felt by trying to do it all alone. Surround yourself with first class support.
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Jane Cuthbertson is a Chartered Marketer based in Stirling, Scotland.
With a diverse marketing background, she specialises in setting strategic marketing plans with long-term goals and is skilled in implementing integrated marketing programmes that deliver sales results.