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: Olympic Life Learning Opportunity

Dan Weedin Unleashed-40There are many reasons why I was never more than an average athlete in my high school athletic career. My best sport was golf and I was part of a team that finished 9th in state my junior year. While I had the physical skills to play beyond high school, the biggest obstacle was between my ears. 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.

As I’ve watched the Olympics over the past week, I’ve observed that these world-class athletes obviously differ from me in that mental discipline when it comes to athletics. I was most impressed with a tweet by American skier Mikaela Shiffrin over the weekend. After winning gold in one race, she didn’t perform well in the next event that she was heavily favored in, and didn’t medal. She responded publicly with a series of tweets, where she concluded, “That 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?

All that Ms. Shiffrin expressed is reflected in simply living life and building our businesses, careers, and relationships – It’s amazing and terrifying and wonderful and brutal and exciting and nerve racking and beautiful. The final piece is accepting all of that and then being genuinely grateful to be a part of it!

We all deal with crisis and adversity in every aspect of our life, sometimes daily. Why not join me in taking a lesson from an Olympic champion and practicing the discipline of being grateful to just be a part of it? It’s the quickest path to winning gold medals in your life.

Quote of the Week:

“Little minds are tamed by and subdued by misfortune; but great minds rise above them.”

~ Washington Irving (American writer)

© 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.

Thoughts about Río

20 Under 40 20_3There was certainly a whole bunch of hubbub heading into these Olympic Games in Brazil. Río de Janeiro was being castigated as the worst ever venue before it got started. Certainly, there was much ado about polluted waters, politics, and Zika carrying mosquitoes.

It’s not quite been a week and what’s happened? The games have been nearly flawless to watch. Great athletes performing incredible feats; terrific stories about real people overcoming obstacles; and remembering how much sports can unite people.

Is it perfect. No. No Olympic Games – summer or winter – that I’ve ever seen have been. There’s no need for them to be. While the concerns had aspects of seriousness to them, the anxiety they created is the equivalent of the mountain and molehill axiom.

Take a look at your life – business and professional. How many times do we make mountains out of molehills, but can’t seem to be as resilient as Río appears to be?

© 2016 Toro Consulting, Inc. All Rights Reserved

 

Perilous For Your Business Health

Dan Weedin Unleashed-40I read this morning that professional golf superstar Rory McIlroy is skipping the upcoming Olympic games in Rio due to concerns about the Zika virus. I recently saw him interviewed and he stated how he was very eager and excited about representing his native Ireland as an Olympian. Golf hasn’t been an event in the Olympics since Theodore Roosevelt was President of the United States, and there’s no guarantee it will make the next one. Obviously, the growing concern over the virus has swayed this 27 year old who is getting married within the year to look beyond golf and glory. His legacy as a father and health of his family took precedence. He’s not the only one…

Athletes want to compete in the Olympic Games. For many, it’s the crowning achievement of their craft and because it only comes around every four years, the window of opportunity is small. What the Olympic Committee has basically created is a terrible situation where you have demand, you have ample supply, but that supply is tainted and toxic.

Consider those in the business of selling products and services to individuals and business…most likely you are one of them. Do you have a demand and supply, but make the process of buying toxic?

Certainly you aren’t dealing with a health hazard like mosquitoes and polluted water. However, your client experience may be such that they will avoid you like the Zika virus! Here are three quick ways to avoid being spurned:

  1. Make access to you easy. Look at your web site, social media platforms, email signatures, and digital or hard copy brochures. I’m amazed at how difficult it is to find contact information for some businesses. It should be easier than ever! And once they can find you, make the call a pleasant experience, not akin to having a tooth pulled.
  2. Be solutions driven. Problems happen from time to time. It’s one of the costs of doing business. Instead of fearing or dreading dealing withe them, employ people that seek the opportunity to solve problems quickly, fearlessly, and with authority. That last one is vitally important. The overwhelming majority of your clients and prospects understand that challenges and adversity occur; they simply want someone that can rapidly and professionally solve them.
  3. Be consistent. My experience is that consistency, even in less than perfect situations, keeps clients and customers coming back. Inconsistent policies, procedures, responses to questions, access, and products/services alienate those that want and need your help and product.

Here’s the deal…I know you’re not harmful to the health of your client, but you very well may be harmful to your business by not being cognizant of the factors that contribute to client and prospect dissatisfaction. Work to be exceptional on my three solutions I listed, and you won’t have to worry about anyone bowing out of your “event.”

 

© 2016 Toro Consulting, Inc. All Rights Reserved

 

 

Creating Your Own World Cup Experience

Calling me a casual soccer fan is like saying Seattle Seahawks All-Pro cornerback Richard Sherman is understated. World Cup

I watched the first USA match in the World Cup on Monday with my daughter. Of course, like everyone else I root hard for the home team. As a novice when it comes to soccer, I’m just guessing at what’s going on and know that when we score a goal that’s good, and when the other guys do, that’s bad. On Monday, we had just enough more good than bad!

I will continue to watch this monumental event that captivates the world for 30 days. And then I doubt I will watch anymore soccer again until maybe the Olympics or the next World Cup in 4 years. I’m just not a fan of the sport. So what compels me to spend any of my time actively participating? Two things ~ national pride and the stakes.

To get casual fans interested in these games, both are required. With only national pride and no stakes, it’s simply a novelty. While I would be happy with a USA win, I doubt I would do more than have passing interest when the news pops up on my iPhone. It would be very similar to my interest in pre-season NFL games and I’m a huge football fan. With only high stakes and no national interest, it’s invisible. If the USA weren’t competing in the World Cup, I might not even be aware it was going on. The combination of the two catapult it into my stream of consciousness and creates deep interest.

The same is true with your business…

In order for a casual “fan” to consider you an object of interest, you need to generate two things ~ emotion (i.e. national pride) and a valuable return on investment (i.e. stakes). Without both, you will be nothing more than a novelty or worse, invisible.

Too many business owners and entrepreneurs try to use logic as a base for creating interest and making sales. That’s a mistake. Logic makes people think. Emotion makes people act. People buy Mercedes cars, Rolex watches, and Prada handbags because of how it makes them feel about themselves, not becasue they are practical. Emotion is the first and foremost response you need to create in your target audience. You do that by showing dramatically improved condition.

In my marketing for coaching and mentoring business owners and entrepreneurs, I focus on my ability to help them rapidly realize an improved and more joyous lifestyle through accelerated sales and revenue, more discretionary time to do things that they enjoy, and increased peace of mind. I could focus on the methodology of getting there, but that’s boring. In the end, people want to be happier. What makes them happier is all individual, yet in my experience they tend to focus on money, time, and peace of mind. That’s where I focus my energy on the intellectual property (writing, speaking, presenting) I generate.

What about you? What is your product or service that improves the lives or conditions of people and businesses? Do you spend your time boring them with details or exciting them with how you make there life better? How can you assure that you keep that momentum rolling and sustainable?

I undoubtedly will never be an avid soccer fan, but I am certain to sustain my interest in the World Cup as long as I have a rooting interest and the stakes are high. The event has captured my attention. You have the great opportunity to do the same thing in your business. If you’re successful, then you will spend the foreseeable future with the ball landing safely in the back of the net.

© 2014 Dan Weedin. All Rights Reserved

 

Olympics Coverage and Communicating

A few general items from two days of the Olympics compliments of NBC.  I call it “Orchids and Onions.” I think you will figure out which one is which…

Onions – Bob Costas is terrible.  NBC should have given the job to Al Michaels.  Michaels is the consummate professional journalist and would give more credibility to the broadcast.  Gone are the days when ABC’s Jim McKay was the dominant television sports anchor.  Why is Costas terrible?  I don’t hear him ever offer anything of value.  He and Matt Lauer were equally horrid on the opening ceremonies – spending way too much time at the end cogitating over the failed mechanism.

Onions – I hated the decision to show the actual footage of the young Georgian luger who lost his life in the training accident. Yes, I get it.  It’s about ratings, reporting the news, using technology that you have, pictures tell a thousand words, blah, blah, blah.  My first thought when I heard about the tragedy was that I have a daughter that age.  I was literally sick for his parents, his coaches, and his teammates.  I watch people die on television and the movies all the time. It’s not real.  I had no interest in watching a young man die in front of my eyes.  I believe more tact and sensitivity was needed.  Note – You Tube refused to show it at least initially. I don’t know if that’s changed, but that was a judicious move.

Orchids – Cris Collingsworth is good.  He is charismatic, asks good questions, obviously has done his homework, and offers provocative commentary.

Orchids – Mary Carillo does a nice job with her projects.  Once called “Up Close & Personal” when ABC televised the Games, Carillo also has the dynamic personality to pull off the off the wall, fun “stuff” that adds value.  I enjoyed her piece about running a leg of the torch run across Canada.

© 2010 Dan Weedin. All Rights Reserved