Olympians are different

Olympic analogies are commonplace. In Olympic year they’re everywhere.

The reality is that the contrast between the extraordinary and the ordinary are often pretty clear.

Reading time: 5 minutes

What will it do?

This tool will help you see if you’re on an Olympic bandwagon or on a high performance path.

Use this tool today to avoid sounding like a walking soundbite and to become an actual effective leader.

Three steps to take

If you’re a leader who wants to match ambition with action.

1. What’s the talk!?

Hyperbole Reality Your view
Olympians make great sacrifices Olympians make choices, sometimes selfish, and it’s those around them that typically need to be prepared to suffer rather them themselves.
Olympians are a special breed to be aspired to Olympians will tell you about someone who was more talented than them. We don’t typically see the months, weeks, days, hours and minutes of hard work. Most people prefer comfort.
Olympians are only focused on the next step and what they can control If life were only about the next step most of us would stop sometime. A combination of dreams, goals, milestones and steps are all needed.
Olympians never give up Olympians give up on things all the time. But they make choices.
A preparedness to learn, course correct and experiment is essential.
It’s all about desire Effort, discipline, desire and more are all essential. Succeeding on one alone is almost unheard of.
Olympic teams gel. There’s such a strong desire it glues them all together Humans and team dynamics are incredibly complex. Thinking you can just bond a team through a series of steps is naïve or arrogant.
Olympians know how to win Most Olympians fail. There is no single formula. If there was everyone would follow it and all events would be tied.

2. What do I believe?

Do your own reality check. Decide which of the truths in column 2 above that you want to believe.

Which Olympian truths are useful to you and your world? Add any other beliefs about the Olympics and Olympians that you believe to be true and helpful.

3. What’s the action?

Using steps 1 and 2 above what behaviours do your beliefs cause?

Take a moment to really consider your answers here. Think about you personally, those around you and those you lead. And don’t answer the really obvious answers without looking deep inside.

Your thoughts…
What, if anything, is your work equivalent of the Olympics?
Write what Olympic attitudes and beliefs you want to inspire in others?
What rhythms and rituals do you need to maintain or introduce?
What behaviours in others do you want to encourage?
What Olympic stories are you going to use and tell?
Other actions


Your plan

Get a plan Stan.

The basics you need to have in your plan are set out below. As well as these we’d encourage you to:

  • Think about the people who need to know that you’re using this tool and tell them what you’re doing. That way they can support you and won’t think you’re just being weird.
  • Think about the impact you want from using this tool. Depending on your starting point, how hard you work and how ambitious you are, you might not get that impact straight away. So valuing progress rather than perfection will help build your confidence and keep you going.

Plan basics

  1. What are you going to do? (This bit is easy – it’s probably the 3 things listed above.)

    My actions:

  2. When are you going to do these things? (You don’t have to be great to get going, but you better get going if you want to be great)

    My start date:

  3. How often will you be doing them? (Getting great has a lot to do with making things a habit)

    Check-in frequency and dates:

Get serious

The difference between having a plan and making it work is about action. So get this in your diary now. Tell the people who need to know so that they can support you and won’t just think you’re being weird. Do it now.

Remember, it’s progress not perfection. You’re looking for gradual improvement, not for Rome to be built in a day.

Other useful stuff

Take a look at these viewpoints from other kitbags in The Performance Room

Be ready like an Olympian

Choose an Olympic attitude at work

What can business learn from sport