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Work Like An Olympian

The analogies between sports and business, or really sports and anything, are as ubiquitous as they are tiresome. And yet, there’s this strong temptation to take an inspiring performance and make it even MORE inspiring by analogy. . . So, here we go. Small Business lessons from #Rio2016.

Firsts are a big deal. . . .

Whether is was Fiji’s first ever gold medal, in Rugby, Kosovo’s first ever gold medal, in Judo, or the first ever African American woman to win gold in a swimming event, Rio was full of firsts. And the media was not shy about celebrating them. You shouldn’t be, either. Your first customer is a big deal. Your first sale is a big deal. Your first year is a big deal. Appreciating them for the wonders they are as they happen will help make you more conscious, more grateful and even less anxious as you recognize your company’s momentum.

. . . . but so are 23rds. 

Michael Phelps has won 23 gold medals, five of them at Rio 2016. That is incredible. Everyone thinks it’s incredible. He has become an archetype for something incredible. And there are two lessons here.

First of all, the 23rd medal is not treated as less important than the first. While firsts are unique, your 23rd customer or sale should feel as valued as your first.

Second, Michael Phelps is not good at everything. But he is really good at this. He might be the best at this. And, though he’s had some bumps along the way, he’s never tried to win on the gymnasts floor. Know what your company is good at, best at, and how you can offer value.

If You Bounce It, They Will Come

Did you know Trampoline was an Olympic sport? No. But now you’re going to Google it and watch Canada’s Rosie MacLennan’s winning 2016 routine. Rosie, the two time Gold Medalist for this Olympic sport you’ve never heard of, was chosen to bare Canada’s flag as the team entered the arena during the opening ceremonies.

You don’t need to be a swimmer to win a gold medal, and your job doesn’t need to be glamorous for you to be worthy of waving your flag. Maybe you don’t feel like what you do is important, or popular. But if you do it well, and if you hold your flag high, people will care.

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