Olympic Lessons for Business & Life

20 Under 40 20_3My March 2018 column for the Kitsap Sun…

“Little minds are tamed by and subdued by misfortune; but great minds rise above them.” ~ Washington Irving (American writer)

There are many reasons why I was never more than an average athlete in my high school athletic career. After nearly 35 years, I think I’ve uncovered the most likely and topical for a business perspective.

While attending Oak Harbor High School, I played both basketball and golf. My best sport was golf and I lettered my junior and senior years on a very good and deep team of athletes. I was part of the five-man team that finished 9th in state my junior year. I continued to hone my skills over the summer by playing as much golf as possible. My senior year was personally better, although we fell just short of another trip to the state tournament. All that is to say that I had developed enough skills, experience, and knowledge of how to continue to improve performance, that I’m confident I could have played beyond high school. The biggest obstacle to continuing my path wasn’t on the golf course, however. The biggest hazard I had was the five inches between my ears!

In competition, I found it hard to be satisfied with anything other than my best. If you’ve ever played a sport, you know that playing your best every time is impossible, even for the greatest athletes in the world. I never found a way to consistently bounce back mentally or emotionally from poor (or even mediocre) competitive performances and live to fight another day. I never gave myself permission to simply honor the struggle and be happy with the joy of being part of the game.

As I watched the Olympics over the past two weeks, I observed that these world-class athletes from across the planet obviously differ from me in that mental discipline when it comes to athletics. I marveled as athletes who are used to winning (that’s how they ended up at the Games) would still be smiling after a mistake; would still wave to the crowd; and would genuinely be happy for someone that just knocked them off the medal stand.

I was most moved by a tweet from American skier Mikaela Shiffrin. After winning gold in one race, she didn’t perform her best in the next event that she was heavily favored in. The result was that she didn’t medal. In today’s virtual news world, the op-eds came pouring in from journalists and social media warriors alike. While there was some outpouring of support, there was also the usual negativity that has unfortunately become a standard that doesn’t seem to be going away anytime soon.

Ms. Shiffrin – who turns all of 23 years old this month – responded publicly with a series of tweets regarding her self-assessment of the race. She concluded, “That (performance) is real. That is life. It’s amazing and terrifying and wonderful and brutal and exciting and nerve racking and beautiful. And honestly, I’m just so grateful to be a part of that.”

Sounds a lot like life, doesn’t it?

It also sounds a lot like living the dream of entrepreneurship and owning a business. To quote her, entrepreneurship is “amazing, terrifying, wonderful, brutal, exciting, nerve racking, and beautiful.” Are you grateful to be a part of it?

Her summation more than implies that gratitude and the acceptance of all of that comes with being a part of our “game” is the crucial last piece of the puzzle! Being an entrepreneur is hard. It’s not for the faint of heart or those unwilling to get knocked down frequently. As the noted 19th century American writer Washington Irving opined, misfortune (crisis, adversity, rejection) happens to us all, and the great minds find a way to rise above and be resilient. That takes me back to the five-inch golf course in my head.

We all deal with crisis and adversity in every aspect of our business life, sometimes daily. And let’s be clear, every business owner and entrepreneur mixes business and pleasure. It’s like peanut butter and chocolate; they simply go together! In fact, the attempt to separate the two is not only fruitless, but also harmful. The reason is because we don’t have a personal life and a professional life; we have a life! By not allowing yourself to give all of yourself to both concurrently, one will suffer.

So how do we improve and build our mental toughness? We can start by taking a lesson from an Olympic champion and practicing the discipline of being grateful to just be a part of it.

I propose three simple steps that will help your life:

  1. Honor the Struggle. This isn’t supposed to be easy. In fact, if it were, you’d likely not have fun. Part of the fun in doing anything is the struggle, so don’t fight against it, honor it. You honor the struggle by accepting the effort and resilience needed to keep charging.
  2. Next Play. I learned a great lesson from Duke basketball coach Mike Krzyzewski. He wrote that there is always a “next play” after the failed one. If you don’t move on to focus on that next play, the bad one will only continue to be made worse. When this happens, it’s easy to fall into a malaise that’s terrible to climb out of.
  3. Create Your Own Team. Lone wolves in business and life suffer without a pack. We can’t be successful by ourselves. We all need family, friends, colleagues, partners, coaches and accountability partners to support, guide, cajole, and celebrate with us.

The Finish Line: By committing to these three steps, you’ll reach the medal stand in your business. But be warned, they aren’t easy. They are part of the struggle and there are multiple finish lines in our life, with always another race to run right around the corner. Now go for the gold!


© 2018 Toro Consulting, Inc. All Rights Reserved

Extra Points: Perfectly Imperfect

Dan Weedin Unleashed-40Last week, I visited a sports card shop to have them look at my baseball cards. My card collection is mostly baseball, football, and basketball cards from the early 1970s to the mid-1980s, with the vast majority in baseball. Because I was curious to see if the collection had any real value for insurance purposes, I was hoping an expert would shed some light on if it was worth getting a complete appraisal.

What I learned was that while my collection fell into the right time period (sports cards became over supplied in the mid 1980s to the point of saturation and devaluation), they were in far less than “mint condition.” As I explained to the expert (who was probably in his late 20s), when I was collecting cards, you’d buy your packs of cards, open them up without care for how they were handled, and then regularly trade among friends as if you were the General Manager of a Major League team. Some of my fondest memories involved bringing my stack of cards to my friend’s house (or vice versa) and then wheeling and dealing to get the best deal.

One of my cherished deals was trading for a 1970 Willie Stargell card. It’s a prize possession and the inspiration of why I chose the name “Pops” as a grandfather, as that was his famed nickname. The expert advised me that collectors drive the value, and unless baseball cards – even those more than 40 years old – needed to be in mint condition to have any monetary value. He gave me the example of a Thurman Munson 1971 rookie card, which I own. In mint condition – which is literally without any blemish – the card is valued at $300. My card, which I will call delightfully imperfect, was valued somewhere closer to $4.99. Ironically he explained, he loves the vintage look. We agreed that the imperfections actually added great value nostalgically if not monetarily.

As business people and as human beings, we often strive for perfection. I often talk to people who consider it a badge of honor to be a perfectionist. I respectfully disagree. I think it’s an obstacle to success. Just like my baseball cards are perfect to me in their imperfection, we also achieve much more when we don’t allow the quest for perfection to get in the way of success.

Wanting to perform at the highest level and giving your best is laudable. Getting thrown off track because of less than perfect results will slow one’s progress, stunt their growth, and lead to disappointment and regret.

To all you self-proclaimed perfectionists reading this missive, I recommend you worry less about attaining “mint condition” and more about being like my Stargell and Munson baseball cards; and that’s achieving perfect imperfection.

Quote of the Week:

“To me, baseball has always been a reflection of life. Like life, it adjusts. It survives everything.”

~ Willie “Pops” Stargell, Baseball Hall of Famer

© 2018 Toro Consulting, Inc. All Rights Reserved

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Do you need help unleashing your potential? My mentoring and coaching program has availability. Contact me at dan@danweedin.com or (360) 271-1592 to apply.

Extra Points: Your Business DNA

Dan Weedin Unleashed-40My kids bought me the Ancestry.com DNA kit for my birthday a few months ago. It was a great gift, as my father was quite the genealogist and I was eager to learn more about my actual heritage.

The results finally came in a few weeks ago. I have to admit, I was a little surprised. Leading the way at 43% was the conglomeration of England/Scotland/Wales. This wasn’t totally a shock because I knew from Dad that our last name was either English or Scottish. What did surprise me was the high percentage. With my mother being Colombian, I thought that exact number would fall more into the Iberian Peninsula (including Spain). The sum of the Iberian Peninsula and Native American (includes South America where I trust it’s almost fully from) was the second largest at 26%. The results were fascinating and I spent much of the rest of the afternoon looking through all the data they included. 

We all have individual DNA that leads back generations and likely hundreds of years. That DNA forms how we look, how our bodies function, and both strengths and vulnerabilities. Your business (and your individual career) also has it’s own DNA. The problem is that often, we don’t take the time to understand what it tells us.

Your business DNA has obvious “markers;” things like your services and products; your family business lineage; and your time in a community. Some other “markers” may not be as obvious. Consider what your DNA says about how you answer (or don’t answer) incoming calls; how quickly you respond (or don’t respond) to emails; the upkeep of your website; the hospitality and comfort of your front desk staff and area; and your vibrancy in the community or communities you operate in. Your DNA will tell all those around you – both clients and potential clients – what you’re really made of.

What’s Your DNA say about you?

Quote of the Week:

“Life is really simple, but we insist on making it complicated.”

~ Confucius

© 2018 Toro Consulting, Inc. All Rights Reserved

Do you need help unleashing your potential? My mentoring and coaching program has availability. Contact me at dan@danweedin.com or (360) 271-1592 to apply.

Shrimp Tank Podcast with Guest Dr. Peter Lehmann

Check out our latest podcast with our guest, Dr. Peter Lehmann. We had a fascinating conversation on membership based medicine and the financial and emotional values the model provides. I’m a member of Vintage Direct Primary Care and I can say without question, it’s been the best experience we’ve had with a clinic. To learn more, both watch this brief video and then go listen to the entire podcast.

© 2018 Toro Consulting, Inc. All Rights Reserved

Extra Points: Act Your Age

Dad_DonWeedinMy dad once said to me in a private moment, “You know, I’m 75 years old and I feel like I’m 17 and saying, What the hell happened?” That was nearly 20 years ago and I was in my mid 30’s. Today at 53 years old, I can relate better. (P.S. Picture to your right is Dad at 17…his ideal age)

This past weekend, Barb and I attended the Ideal Life Day retreat held by my colleague and Shrimp Tank podcast co-host, Brad Berger. Brad led a session where one of the focal points was acting and feeling your ideal age throughout your life. During the exercise, we were asked to come up with the age we felt like we were at our optimum peak in mind, body, spirit, and health. I ended up being pretty to close to Dad’s memory at 19 years old. Brad then asked the participants to imagine what it would be like to act your optimum age today. In fact, Brad’s research indicates that we as humans are at our highest performance and productivity between the ages of 55 and 80. Heck, I’m just getting to my best years!

Benjamin Franklin is credited as proclaiming that “some people die at 25 and aren’t buried until 75.” We all know people like that. We might even employ, work with, or are family and friends with people like that. In order to unleash your potential, you need to live like your 19 (or whatever your optimum age is) throughout your life. Here are three suggestions on how to accomplish this along with a few disciplines to keep you on track:

Don’t listen to what the world tells you about age. Legendary film and television producer Jerry Bruckheimer (CSI franchise, Pirates of the Caribbean, Top Gun) just started working on his latest film and is one of the new owners of the soon to be expansion NHL team in Seattle. He’s 74 and not thinking about “retiring.” Plan on living 20 more years than you think you will. Now what do you want to do with your life?

Protect Your Mind and Body. The fastest way to age is to stop being active and to eat unlimited carbs, sugars, and processed foods full of chemicals, then slouch in your recliner watching reality television and scouring Facebook. While pharmaceutical companies may love you, your heart, vital organs, and brains will hate you and those aching, stiff bones that we all have been told come with age, will flare up.

Act Your “Age.” One of my heroes is a lady in my Rotary Club. Ardis is 93 years old but you’d swear she 30 years younger. She has been the driving force, voice, and face for our club being able to raise over $2M to build an 8-unit building for housing for victims of domestic violence. I’ve known Ardis for 15 years and her secret sauce is that she hangs out with people half her age (or younger), she’s active, she has a purpose, and she has a passion for life. She’s lived – and is still living – an Unleashed and “ideal” life. Visit Morrow Manor website

Here’s the deal. You control your attitude, your health, and your volition. Don’t conform to the age bias. If you’re reading this, you’re either at your peak performance and productivity age or you’re not even there yet. Start visualizing what you want to do when you “grow up” by acting your age.

Quote of the Week:

“Do not go gentle into that good night but rage, rage against the dying of the light.”

~ Dylan Thomas (20th century Welsh poet)

© 2018 Toro Consulting, Inc. All Rights Reserved

Do you need help unleashing your potential? My mentoring and coaching program has availability. Contact me at dan@danweedin.com or (360) 271-1592 to apply.