Be a Champ – Managing Your Career like an Olympic Athlete

By Shi Tianyun

The London Olympics starts off with a bang on 27 July. Besides cheering on the crème de la crème of sportsmen from all over the world, there are lessons you can learn from them and apply to your career.

Always work towards a long-term goal

It’s tough work being an athlete. They train every day for months and years to achieve one specific goal, be it a gold medal or breaking a national record. The same goes for you at work. Before you join a company or start a new position, be the man with a plan. The preparation to be CEO can be lengthy but this goal will keep you focused whenever the routine of the job may render you complacent.

Some athletes, like American track and field athlete Bryan Clay and swimmer Eric Shanteau, actually have tattoos of the Olympic logo, their country’s flag or the sport they do, to remind them of their dream. While you don’t have to go to this extreme, keep a motivational poster or wallpaper so you will be able to review your career goals constantly in the office to stay on track.

Be Good at More Than One Thing

Jamaican sprinter Usain Bolt’s pet event may be the 200m race but he’s pretty good at the 100m too. Afterall, he won gold medals for both events in the 2008 Olympics. US athlete legend Carl Lewis not only runs like the wind, he also jumps pretty far, having secured gold for the 100m and long jump in more than one Olympics meet.

The lesson to learn here is while you may be brilliant at what you do now, there’s no harm in branching out in another scope. For an engineer who would like to get ahead in the workplace, a human resource course may not only equip you with the essential people management skills but also increase your profile as someone who has both relevant hard and soft skills. In this way, you will be an all-rounder and indispensable in the office.

Find a Great Coach

Behind every medal-winning athlete, there’s an awesome coach. And sometimes, they may have been competitive sportsmen themselves and are able to share a wealth of knowledge with their charges. Tennis legend Billie Jean King led the USA women’s tennis team to gold on two occasions.

Get a mentor, she can be a superior you respect or even someone, not necessarily in the same company, but has made it big in the industry. Not only will you be able to pick up important pointers from them, they will also be able to give you feedback and point out certain issues or flaws you are not aware of.

Teamwork Rocks

Whether they compete in an individual or team event, teamwork is very important to an athlete’s success. Individual athletes also have their own team – think their coach, physical therapist, and the likes. At the Olympics, they don’t just compete for personal glory – they are presenting their country.

You may think of yourself as a lone ranger in the office but even if you a one-person department, chances are, you do interact with other sections of the company too. As much as it’s nice to make a splash on your own, remember that as a team, you will make a bigger impact. So get to know your fellow colleagues and put all your strengths together to make a good result for both yourself and the company!

Celebrate Achievements

If there’s one thing athletes know, it’s celebrating their win or great performance. It’s not unusual to see a sprinter break out in a shuffle after he crosses the finishing line in record time or a city throw a huge parade for their returning triumphant athletes.

So why give yourself a hard time? Learn how to give yourself a pat on the back for whenever you have made an accomplishment; reward yourself after a grueling project. As for bosses, break out the champagne (or likewise) whenever your team does well. By celebrating a good job done together, your staff know they are appreciated and this is also a mean to build camaraderie.

Do you have any career lessons you learnt from sports or sportsmen? Share with us in the comment box!

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