5 Lessons for Entrepreneurs from Olympic Games

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August 8, 2012

5 Lessons for Entrepreneurs from Olympic Games

Our Digital Scientists are made up of tech-loving, results-oriented, passionate, digital marketing nerds who have an unnatural obsession with all things digital. Most likely seen glued to a screen and spewing new digital marketing trends.

Similar to an Olympic athlete, entrepreneurs and business owners need to have an athlete-tough attitude to be at the top of their game. To be the best in the world at what you do, or to grow a business to that level requires a tremendous amount of commitment, perseverance, and confidence.Here are five lessons from some of the London 2012 Olympic Greats, and also from those that just missed the mark.

1. You can only make history through your actions - Michael Phelps (Legend)


With 22 medals, Michael Phelps is now truly the most decorated Olympic athlete of all time. In an interview after one of his first finals were he shockingly didn't win a medal, he was asked if he still "believed he could make history at these Olympics". His answer was that of a true world class athlete: "I'll let my swimming do the talking".

The lesson here is simple: you don't win, break records, or make history by talking about doing that. You make history my making something, by working, or by taking action. Focus on letting your actions do the talking.

2. Be Aware of the Mental Match - "The Fab Five" (US Gold Medalist)


The US women's gymnastics team, "The Fab Five", made their own mark on history by winning the team final and bringing home the gold for the first time since the infamous 1996 US women's team.

For both of these teams it took years of dedication, hours of hard work, and also a mental toughness to overcome all the nerves that you face as an athlete at this elite level.

During an interview after their win one of their supporting coaches talked about their match being an all-mental battle. She shared that one of the biggest things the team was coached on is overcoming fear, self talk, and maintaining calm breathing. She said, "You have to be able to control nerves and distractions to perform on any given day or stage".

3. Be Ready to Combat the Unexpected - Shin A-lam (South Korean Fencer)

In some occasions athletes who work so hard all of their lives watch their dreams crushed on the final stage just before victory. Sometimes a dream can slip away by simply not being able to handle the pressure of something going wrong that is completely out of your control.

The greatest example provided by these Olympic games comes from South Korean fencer Shin A-lam. During her semi-final match she was one second away from winning her match and moving on to the final gold medal match. She thought that one second had passed, though due to a controversial move by the officials the clock was reset from zero to one second.

Shin ended up losing the match after German fencer seized her opportunity and scored a do-or-die hit that moved her on to the final match where she would end up wining the gold. Its not easy to prepare for the unexpected, but staying composed when it does happen can make the difference between making the winner's podium or not.

4. Believe in the Unbelievable - "The Blade Runner" (South African 400m Runner)

One of the most inspiring and talked about stories at these Olympic games comes from South African 400 meter runner Oscar Pistorius. Headlines have called him 'the Olympic runner with no feet', and he has been nicknamed "the Blade Runner" because of his prosthetic feet made from carbon fiber blades. To him though, that never took away his dream of being an Olympic athlete. "I grew up not really thinking I had a disability. I grew up thinking I had different shoes."


Pistorius’ attitude gave him the confidence to believe in his dream enough to overcome the many obstacles he faced to be the first ever athlete double amputee athlete to complete in the Olympics. His personal motto that helped him get there is “You’re not disabled by the disabilities you have, you are able by the abilities you have.”

5. Stay Focused on the Target - Brady Ellison (Arizona Archery Silver Medalist)


Arizona native Brady Ellison had to stay focused on his target both literally and figuratively in his sport of archery. He first made the US Olympic team for the 2008 Olympic Games, however he didn't make it past the second round in Beijing. He said going into these games, "I shot good enough to win that match, but I just didn't trust myself. I was so involved with the excitement of it in Beijing. Coming into London is a lot more business-like."

He took care of business in London as he helped the US Men's Archery team win the Silver medal - with it claiming USA's first medal of the 2012 Olympics!


After reading these stories do you now have more of an Olympic athlete like attitude to take care of business and reach your goals?

Also if you want to read more success secrets from Olympic greats check out this article slideshow from Entrepreneur.com.

Let us know if you found this article helpful or if you have another inspiring story to add from these Olympic games.

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