Going for Gold

Going for Gold


Without a doubt, it’s a competitive world, whether it’s in sports or in business, and there are more similarities between entrepreneurs and top athletes than you might imagine. In this current financial climate when so many businesses are failing, it’s fair to say that companies that survive the economic crisis will come out of it leaner, stronger and fitter for business.

Just like any great Olympian, business owners that have been through hard times have had to rise to the challenge and succeed. By following the rules of how to W.I.N. G.O.L.D, you and your business can become a world-class champion.

W – Willpower to succeed

Having a competitive will to win is paramount for any athlete; otherwise there really is no point in competing. Great athletes will picture themselves crossing the finish line in first place and will play this over and over in their minds. They cannot envisage losing and, in fact, it doesn’t even come into the equation. Likewise, a successful entrepreneur will never give in; they will not ease off, even if they are close to their end goal. They will imagine being successful and will not let the demons of failure cloud their judgement.

I – Instil values

A successful Olympian has the power to instil values and traits in those who look up to them, and this is the very same with a great business person: a skilled entrepreneur is one that has the ability to instil values into the hearts and minds of their employees. They are able to establish a set of core values that makes their company unique compared to any other competitor, and this is what makes them stand out from the crowd. These values are such that employees and clients alike are proud to work for, and indeed associate themselves with such a company.

N –Never look back

There’s an old saying that goes ‘you’re only as good as your last race’, and this is true of both Olympian and entrepreneur. A great athlete will not rest on their laurels, even though they may have triumphed in their last race. They realise that the next race is a blank canvas whereby everybody starts from the same point. They, therefore, have to be better, fitter and stronger than anybody else. Constantly looking forward inspires athletes to be the best they can be. By the same token, a successful entrepreneur doesn’t take their foot off the pedal either: they too are constantly looking for the next big deal, the next idea, the next challenge that they thrive on, and this is what makes them successful.

G – Get the job done

When it comes to athletics, races are often won by a whisker. If an athlete ceases to give it their all, if they ease off just 1cm before the line, then chances are they’re going to lose to someone who gives 110% all the way to the finish. In essence, a great athlete gets the job done no matter what, they see it through right to the end. Similarly in business, a successful entrepreneur never loses focus; they never slack off just because a project is almost done; they don’t cut back when a client tells them he likes their offer. Instead, a skilled entrepreneur believes that the deal is only done when the client tells them it is, and not before. In other words, they maintain focus all the way to the end, until the client is totally satisfied.

O – Organised

A great athlete never comes to a race under prepared. Instead, they will have trained hard for an event and have focussed on eating the right stamina-boosting foods. They have their head in the right place and their mind-set focused on the race. In essence, they will be as prepared and organised as they can be. Similarly, a successful entrepreneur never goes into a meeting or a deal without being fully prepared. Speak to any successful business leader and they will tell you that ‘failing to plan is like planning to fail’, and if the deal falls through because they have neglected to plan ahead or be fully organised, then they only have themselves to blame.

L – Leverage

An Olympic coach understands exactly how to get the best out of their athletes by leveraging their unique capabilities and positioning them in events that allow the athlete to shine: you will never find a great sprinter entered into an 800 or 1500 meter race. Similarly, a great entrepreneur will have the ability to leverage the skill sets of the individuals around them and position them in fields that bring out the best in them: a skilled entrepreneur wouldn’t keep their best sales person in the office. Importantly, when things are going to pot, a successful entrepreneur will always be able to step back from the situation, re-focus, and leverage the skills necessary to lead the team through in the same way that a great athlete will always dig deep, harness the power of their skill set and make good, even when the odds may be stacked against them.

D – Don’t give up

Like a great athlete never gives up and keeps on giving it their all, a successful entrepreneur will never stop ‘til they’ve gotten that contract, sold that product, or completed that job. In many cases, successful business people are faced with adversity, and what makes them stand out from the crowd is their willpower to pick themselves up, dust themselves down, and get right back in there when many others would have folded. This attitude gives them the edge over weaker competitors who only do as much as necessary and cut back when times get tough.

So as we fast approach the London Olympics, will you be doing the same old things and getting the same old results, or will you be thinking like an Olympian and celebrating your own gold medal moment?

Axel Rittershaus
Axel Rittershaus is an internationally renowned C-Level / Executive Coach & Author who started as an entrepreneur in the IT industry in 1993. He knows that success is the result of hard work and determination even more than innate talent. A master of maintaining focus and follow-through, Axel supports C-Level leaders globally in achieving goals. Axel is dedicated and passionate to see clients succeed beyond their expectations. Axel is also the president of the International Coach Federation South Africa and a multiple Two Oceans and Comrades finisher. You can follow him on twitter.