I’ve spent the past few months with Seven Hills founder and Real Business columnist Michael Hayman. We went to the same school but took different career paths: I became an Olympian and he became an entrepreneur. But I’ve learned that many of the disciplines required to win in sport are the same as those required to win in business.
1. FOCUS: Ask the right questions
Learn to visualise and understand the perfect performance. A winning performance takes focus, drive and concentration. What does it take to cross the finish line? How do you turn your business dreams into a reality?
2. DETAIL: It’s what we live with everyday
You’ve got to love the detail. An eye for detail separates the gold medallists from the silver medallists. And that goes for business too. In a race where every hundredth of a second counts, be it in a pool or in a boardroom, you must be able to separate every intricate aspect of the process and envision yourself at each stage of the journey if you want to win.
3. ENDURANCE: The defining quality
There are two things about endurance. The first is to take hold of your future. Knowing what pulls you to the future and what pushes you from your past is a vital step to success. My push was baldness and dyslexia. My pull was the feeling that I had to do something with my life. I had to make something of myself.
The second thing is to build your knowledge at every opportunity. Success requires you to have a genuine interest in your business. If you don’t have that, your business journey will feel more like being pulled through nails than through silk.
4. CROSS-TRAINING: Refreshes drive and ignites passion
It’s far easier than you might think to over train and over prepare. Winning in business, just like winning in the swimming pool, requires combining ambition with energy, stamina and capability. Imagine your life as a series of swimming lanes. You need to have lanes for work, for friends, for family, for health and for hobbies. Your life needs balance. If you only ever swim in one lane, you will never reach the ambitious heights you dream of.
5. FAILURE: The architect, the builder and the driver of success
In both sport and business, it is all about knowing what doesn’t work. Turn your failures into learning exercises and make sure you succeed next time. You need to be critical of your performance. Ruthlessly address what’s not working in order to realise what a winning performance looks like. Remember, you’re only as good as your worst day.
Want more gold nuggets? British pro-swimmer Mark Foster gives his advice on staying on top of your game.
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