Shaun White captured the 100th Winter Olympics gold of all-time for Team U.S.A. when he bested the competition at the men's halfpipe final in Pyeongchang, South Korea. But for every Shaun White, there is an athlete who has immense talent in his/her sport and falls up short of earning goal. Yet, these athletes train for years and spend countless hours perfecting their crafts and travel to far destinations for the hope of achieving greatness, knowing that the odds may be against them to win it all.
There are certainly many lessons that business people can take away from these Olympic athletes. Perhaps the most important lesson is that conflict should be embraced for growth.
"Olympic athletes embrace conflict for growth," says former professional athlete Steve Siebold, who is now a psychological performance coach to pro athletes and entrepreneurs. "When most people run into an obstacle, they seek escape. Olympic athletes have a plan to push forward when this happens and learn all they can from the challenges they face. They know facing adversity is part of being successful."
Another item to note is the athletes' extensive use of social media to digitally market themselves during and surrounding the Olympics, when it is not against rules enforced by the International Olympics Committee.
"The type of message and timing is extremely important to achieve the desired results and not run afoul of the law," says General Boost president Zachary Swerdlow, who focuses on digital marketing. "Look at Chloe Kim for example, who used authenticity to become an instant social media star."
There are many other things that business people can learn from Olympic athletes, but another trait is certainly that just being "very good" is not enough.
"Olympic champions know very good is bad," says Siebold. "For the average person, to be classified as 'very good' is something to be proud of. For the great ones, it's an insult."
Olympic athletes are consistently great. They create their target objectives and do whatever is necessary to accomplish their goals. But they are also coachable and accept constructive criticism. Similarly, in the business world, executives should be willing to be critiqued and motivated to accept nothing less than great, kicking "very good" to the curb.