"The Olympics remain the most compelling search for excellence that exists in sport, and maybe in life itself." – Dawn Fraser, Australian swimmer and 4-time Olympic gold medallist
Olympians spend their prime years pursuing excellence. Thousands of hours of work are distilled into a single event – a few seconds, a handful of manoeuvres, a single shot.
Simply becoming an Olympian is more than most of us can dream of – let alone standing on the podium.
So what can we learn from those who reach this elite level of athletic and mental ability? And what can we learn from the ones who stay at that level?
Here are three things we can all do to achieve excellence in our business lives.
Chasing excellence virtually guarantees times when we’ll fall on our faces – in private and in public. It’s never much fun. It can feel pretty embarrassing. But it’s also necessary.
Sifting through our mistakes – big and small – and being honest about where and why we went wrong isn’t optional.
Self-reflection and interrogation is key to finding better solutions to current obstacles. In fact, if you’re not falling from time to time, you’re probably not changing.
But falling’s also liberating. Accepting the certainty of setbacks gives you license to experiment. Some of the greatest athletes have the most unorthodox techniques – take Janet Evans. Despite her small stature and odd swimming style, she dominated the 1988 Seoul Olympics swimming events and broke world records in the Commonwealth 400m, 800m and 1500m freestyle events.
You can bet Evans spent plenty of time looking nothing like Olympic material.
Equally, many come from difficult backgrounds. If not for their willingness to make, rationalise and overcome mistakes, we wouldn’t know their names.
The Olympics is full of solo acts. For a few moments, the world’s their stage. But no one achieves excellence alone – at Salesforce, we’re doing our bit to support Team GB.
You won’t find a successful Olympian who doesn’t have a dedicated and specialised team at their back. Each member has their own area of expertise – coaching, nutrition, strength and conditioning, psychology, mentorship. The list goes on.
But despite their niches, all are pulling towards the same goal (more on that in a second).
An invested team is also vital to managing naysayers. If you’re trying to create real change, you’re probably causing discomfort to someone, somewhere.
Having a support network around you to keep you on track is vital in the bumpier moments. You’ll hit your target much faster and more easily if you do it together.
If you’re keen to build and strengthen your own team with a community of like minded people, check out our courses on Trailhead.
In business, it can be tempting to set multiple goals – but this often dilutes our focus. That’s why there are few things more powerful than a unifying purpose.
When we ask: “What’s the one thing we can become excellent at?”, it clarifies next steps, removes distractions and gives us a goal to rally round.
What would the resulting wins look like – and what would they do for us and our customers?
Take Jade Jones – a two-time Olympic gold medallist in Taekwondo for Great Britain. As a young teenager, her parents woke at 5am to drive her across the country to compete in junior tournaments.
As she started to rack up wins – small ones at first, before bigger and bigger prizes followed – more people joined her journey towards catching excellence. And when her parents struggled to fund her passion, her entire hometown raised funds to support her goal.
That’s what single mindedness evokes in other people – imagine what it could do across your organisation.
Often we lesser mortals can feel detached from the stars on our screens. But the things they do to achieve excellence – perseverance, a strong team and a singular purpose – are equally within our grasp.
At Salesforce, we help companies – big and small – achieve excellence. Whether that’s finding new and better ways to serve clients, making life easier for sales or building irresistible marketing campaigns.
These lessons have helped us become the world’s #1 CRM platform.
Let’s pursue excellence together – and achieve it from anywhere. Ready?
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