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Business Lessons + The Olympic Games

The 2020 Olympic Games completed last week, while the 2020 Paralympic Games occur later this month!! I wanted to point out some of the highlights of this year’s Games, as well as some former Olympics, and how they relate to business.

Yes, that’s right – the Olympics being held in 2021 have branding that states “Tokyo 2020!” Why? Money. All the merchandise was completed before the games were postponed a year, so it was a business decision to continue the original marketing, rather than spend billions of dollars on re-doing all the merchandise, uniforms, etc.

I’ve always loved watching the Olympics. In fact, I vividly remember feeding my daughter in the middle of the night and watching the 1988 games since it was taking place in Seoul, South Korea. The picture of me to the right is actually at the original site of the Olympics in Greece!

As a family, we attended the Summer Olympics in 1996 in Atlanta and went to 14 events over a two week span. We saw Archery, Handball, Women’s Field Hockey, Women’s Volleyball, Bicycling on the Velodrome, Baseball, Track and Field and so many other events!! The Olympics has been a part of my life for a long time.

Business Lesson 1: Show support.
A friend of a friend knew someone playing on the USA women’s field hockey team in 1996 and we actually got to meet her and talk to her after they played.

Even though we didn’t personally know the woman on the team, we were cheering so loudly and made sure to tell her how much we enjoyed seeing her play. She was so thrilled to hear that and share the experience with us. Make sure you are sending support to your clients, your team, your fellow business owners, your family and friends.

Business Lesson 2: It’s a crazy ride.
I had a chance to catch 5 events at the 2002 games in Salt Lake City and even got to ski on the slope used for one of the Olympic events the day after the event.

When we traveled to Lillehammer, Norway years ago, the site of the 1994 Winter Olympics, we went skiing and in Oslo I got to do a simulated ski jump and stand at the top of the launchpad and look down the hill – it was almost vertical!

Every time I skied down one of those slopes, I thought about the men and women who train their entire lives for a chance at a medal. And standing at the top of that mountain, even though it was virtual, that’s how it feels sometimes as a business owner. You have to hold on, take the ride down and navigate your challenges along the way. Our gold medal is long-term success.

Business Lesson 3: Be authentic. Be inclusive. Open up conversations.
At these games, diversity and inclusion was truly showcased. I read that “183 publicly out gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, queer and nonbinary athletes were in Tokyo for the Summer Olympic Games.” It’s amazing to see every athlete living their authentic lives and sharing their experiences with the world.

No matter your role in business, we all have a role in being ourselves, letting others be themselves and cheering one another on. Unity!

Business Lesson 4: Take care of yourself. 
Another very important moment for me was watching Simone Biles put her mental health first. The unrelenting pressure she was facing leading up to the Games is something I can’t even imagine. She knew she needed to pull herself out of the competition and she did that, giving herself a much needed pause. And it was wonderful she was able to come back to compete in the balance beam and even take home a bronze medal.

Ask for help. Know when you need a break. Don’t let yourself get burned out. Take the time to put on your oxygen mask first. You won’t please everyone and the most important person you need to worry about is you.

Business Lesson 5: Age is a number. Mindset is everything.
Oksana Chusovitina, a 46-year-old gymnast, competed in her 8th and final Olympics. 13-year-old Momiji Nishiya won gold in the women’s skateboarding street competition. 14-year-old Quan Hongchan scored two perfect 10’s to win gold in diving. Allyson Felix at 35 years old and a mother won her 11th career Olympic medal, the most decorated woman in Olympic track.

If you want something, go for it. Don’t let outside distractions hinder your dreams!

Business Lesson 6: Do the best you can every day of your life.
It doesn’t matter if someone won a medal or didn’t win a medal, these men and women are Olympians forever. They represented their countries and showed the world what they can do. Over 11,000 athletes came together after one of the strangest years in history.

If you are doing your best, you are doing it all. You know your skills and abilities, so use them to impact the world.

What is your favorite event? Have you ever attended the Games?