Lessons from the London Olympics

The 2012 Summer Olympics drew to a close in London earlier this month. Billions of people, around the globe, tuned in to watch the events—which were inspirational as always. One of the most remarkable aspects of the Olympics is the way that it seems to bring the whole world together. Sure, each country is competing to win as many medals as they possibly can, but despite the competition, there is a sense of international unity that doesn’t occur very often.

As I was enjoying the games, I found that many of the principles that lead to Olympic success also apply to business—particularly the business of home staging. Today I am going to share with you my top three.

The difference between victory and defeat is often the slimmest of margins. In several swimming and track events, the margin of victory was less than one tenth of a second! In some cases, so was the difference between earning a bronze medal and earning no medal at all. Just think of it—literally years of training and hard work, all culminating in a single moment, and ultimately being decided by fractions of a second. The moral of the story? Every detail, every training run, everything counts. The same is true of your business. Are you getting the details right, even the ones that may seem unimportant? Because you never know which “minor” detail may land you your next big client… or not. Don’t leave anything to chance!

There is always a “new kid” on the block. Four years ago, American swimmer Michael Phelps was the star of the games. However, this year he started off very badly, losing to emerging rival Ryan Lochte in the 400-meter individual medley. And while Phelps recovered to perform very well in future events, there are plenty of examples of athletes who were the best in the world only four years ago… but have now faded from the spotlight. The lesson is clear—don’t get complacent, no matter how good things may be at the moment. There is always the threat of competition springing up to challenge you. Stay focused and continue to provide world-class service to your clients!

Success is a product of hard, thankless work. The most overwhelming part of the Olympics for many of us is simply thinking about how much time and work these athletes put in, and what a tremendously short time they have on the world stage to be recognized for their work. Sure, medalists receive plenty of coverage and praise after they’ve won their event… but for the past four years, as they trained hard day after day after day, there were no bright lights to inspire them. Business is the same way—although fortunately success does not have to be so short-lived. You won’t achieve your goals overnight. You must be willing to put in the hard, thankless work, with the confidence that in the end your hard work will pay off many times over!

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