I don’t know about you, but I’ve been obsessing over the Olympics in Rio. I’ve had them playing in the background while I do client work all day. I’ve re-arranged my schedule to watch some events. I’ve stayed up every single night just to watch swimming!
While watching the events this year, I realized there are some major Olympic business lessons we can learn as freelancers and small business owners. In this post, I’m going to detail the ones I’ve noticed so far.
You can overcome an upper limit problem.
I’ve discussed upper limit problems before, but watching Michael Phelps make a comeback after a few rough years in his personal life has made me interested in it again.
An upper limit problem is what Gay Hendricks, author of The Big Leap, describes as the moment we sabotage ourselves when things are going well. We think there’s a limit to our success and, as a result, we unconsciously do something to screw it up.
Just look at Michael Phelps a few short years ago. The greatest Olympian of all time was suddenly having one challenge after another in his personal life which was resulting in problems for his professional life. It’s textbook upper limit problem.
Michael Phelps overcame it all. Not only did he overcome it to make an appearance in Rio, he’s killed it in every single one of his races!
This is one of the most important Olympic business lessons of all: Be mindful of when you’re sabotaging your success and immediately start to course correct.
Don’t worry about the competition.
One of the greatest Olympic business lessons you can always learn by watching these events is how to handle competition. The Rio Olympics are no exception.
There’s an image that has surfaced on the internet of Michael Phelps’ rival Chad Le Clos looking right at him in the water as they were racing. While Le Clos was busy wondering where Phelps was, Phelps was keeping his eyes straight in front.
Phelps refused to get distracted by what was going on around him. He simply focused on the race. Phelps took home the gold and Le Clos, who narrowly took the gold from Phelps four years ago in the same event, didn’t even medal.
In this world, we’re told to worry about our competitors. This creates a lot of distraction and a lot of noise for freelancers who are just trying to make a living doing something creative. The reality is, we need to stay focused on our own lane, not anyone else’s.
Give it your best shot.
The U.S. Women’s Beach Volleyball team was given a run for their money by the Swiss. It was a thrilling three sets to watch, and you could tell every player was giving it their all. As one of the announcers said, “They have no quit.” The U.S. Women’s Beach Volleyball team didn’t give up, and they beat the Swiss at the end.
This stuck out to me as a freelancer and as a coach who teaches other freelancers. I’ve seen many freelancers quit when things get uncomfortable. I’ve seen many bloggers quit when they don’t see the rewards coming in right away. I’ve seen a lot of people just shrug their shoulders and give up.
That’s why another one of the Olympic business lessons for business owners is to always give it your best shot.