Be ready like an Olympian

One of the standout things about Olympic athletes is just how ready they are when it matters most. Aside from a few notable examples, they seem to deliver great performances in competition and in particular at the biggest event of all, the Olympics.

Being ready like an Olympian doesn’t happen by chance. There’s a process and mindset behind that – a simple recipe that you too can follow so that you’re ready to perform each and every day.

Reading time: 5 minutes

High performance headlines

Being ready like an Olympian involves:

  • Knowing what it’ll take. If you want to be ready to perform – and deliver – you need to know what you’re getting ready for. Having a clear picture of what performance is required is a critical starting point.
  • A focus on building readiness. Readiness comes from obsessive focus on developing your capability to deliver the performances you need – whether it’s a daily performance in your job or nailing it at key event. The focus is on the performance required – not the result.
  • Developing a recipe. If you’re constantly working towards being ready, you’ll start to develop a recipe that you can consistently use. It’ll fuel your confidence and sense of control too.
  • Readiness is not about perfection. It’s about being as ready as you can be in the circumstances, and focusing on that – rather than how you’re not ready.

The full viewpoint

An Olympic Games gives us an insight into what can be achieved when superb preparation meets inspired execution. And Team GB’s recent excellent Olympic performance is quite clearly not down to chance but the product of a group of people working relentlessly to ensure that everything possible has been done so that the athlete is ready to perform at their best when it matters most.

And while there’s many ways to achieving the end goal – just like in the world of work – there’s a common process that we’ve seen been followed by the dedicated coaches and athletes in building to an Olympic Games.

Detailed understanding of what it’ll take

Olympic athletes have total clarity over what success looks like for them. This isn’t about results – it’s what PERFORMANCE is required to get the results. They see themselves as talented ‘performers’ who have chosen to take on the challenge of performing at the highest level in the biggest arena. They – and their support teams – build up a really detailed understanding of that it will take, so that they know what they need to work towards and be ready for. That’s defined and redefined constantly as conditions change and new information becomes available.

Do you think of yourself as performer and know what it’ll take? Start by thinking of all of the technical skills you need to use to meet your performance demands and the tactics that you need to deploy to play the game with confidence. Think of the psychological and physical qualities you need to keep stepping up and performing well one day at a time. And the equipment, tools, talent and resources that you have around you, all that are available to help you perform.

Constant focus on building readiness

With that performance clarity, your attention can start to shift towards how the current state of play matches up to what’s needed – and how you can build your performance resource so you’re ready to deliver. Olympic athletes are totally focused on building their readiness so that they’ve got what it takes when they need to deliver . On a day-to-day basis, they’re obsessively working on building the right skills, mindset, attitude, strength, endurance, tactics, and all the other components that they’ll need. They’re also great at using all the support around them to do that and making sure they’re creating the right environment to train, learn and improve.

If you listened to the typical chatter on the training ground, you’d hear a lot of talk about HOW they’re going about achieving rather than WHAT they need to achieve. How does that contrast with what happens in your team or business?

Clear recipe to maximise learning, confidence and control

If you’re focused on building your readiness then you start to develop a great understanding of what to do to get the result. And you’re working on things you can control and seeing progress as you do that, which fuels confidence.

Olympic athletes are as obsessive about learning as they are doing . So they’re constantly reviewing what they’ve learned to see what new information they can get which might help them do things better than before – and better than the opposition. They are constantly refining their readiness recipe, getting the balance between trying new things are variations and consolidating what they know works. They have a superb understanding of what it’ll take for them to be ready which has been developed over time. For them, reviewing is a non-negotiable part of their daily routine. Is it for you?

An eye on the future

While immersed in the day-to-day routine of building readiness to perform with the next goal in mind, great performers will also have an eye on the future. So they’ll be thinking ahead about what’s next and what performance is required for that next challenge. And then they’ll be spending some of their time to build the resource or readiness that they’ll need for that. So that when the time comes to step up or transition to something different, they’ve got some tools in the bank already to give them a headstart.

And on the start line…

Finally, readiness is not about being 100% ready in a perfectionist kind of way. It’s about being as ready as you can be with the time you’ve had and the resources you’ve got. It’s knowing you’ve done everything possible in the conditions. And you’d be focused on that, rather than all the stuff that’s not been perfect or that you haven’t done. For the athlete lining up on the start line at an Olympic Games, they’d be maximising that feeling of being as ready as they could possibly be at that moment in time.

Are you as ready as an Olympian for your next performance moment?