Confession: I have always loved watching the Olympic Games. This week I gave some serious thought to why these events have always inspired me. What I have discovered in thinking about the Olympics and Olympians is they present five challenges to each of us who wish to best lead ourselves and impact others:
Focus. American gold metal Olympian, Simone Biles, has been called the greatest female gymnast of all time. Certainly, her power and execution is extraordinary but what also sets her apart is her ability to tune out everything around her and deliver a consist performance every time. In contrast, a number of her competitors, who were the reigning champions going into the 2016 Olympics, have been less consist in Rio.
Robin Sharma, noted leadership coach and author, recently said: “Today, focus is more important than intelligence.” A keen ability to focus, to tune out the crowd around you, to stay on task in a world of distractions, will set you apart even from those smarter and more naturally gifted than you. Developing the ability to focus emotionally is a skill all champions possess. And, it is a skill that you can develop over time.
Excellence. Malcolm Gladwell in his bestseller, Outliers, popularized the “10,000-Hour Rule,” based on a study by Swedish psychologist, Anders Ericsson. Greatness, he explained, requires an enormous amount of practice, namely, pursuing a specific task 20 hours a week for 10 years-10,000 hours. Gladwell even argues that the early works of Mozart were not extraordinary but after years of practice they became so. This is encouraging!