Characteristics of an Olympic Athlete—How to WIN Gold

Characteristics of an Olympic Athlete—How to WIN Gold

Is there anything more thrilling than watching the Winter Olympics?

For me, it’s all about snowboarding. I love the sport and the feeling of powder (or ice on the East Coast) beneath my board. And while I never aspired to be an Olympic athlete (nor had the skill to do so), I can appreciate the blood, sweat, and tears that go into any athlete’s preparation for this big moment. All from the warm and cozy comfort of my living room couch.

But it makes you wonder. What characteristics do Olympic athletes share?

When you continuously strive to WIN BIG… it doesn’t matter whether you are competing in the luge or business. There are similarities between top performers no matter what the sport or industry.

As a student of Jack Welch, the Michael Phelps of the business world, I’ve learned a few business principles that these PyeongChang 2018 Olympic Athletes are sure to embody:


A Love of Competition

Competition whether on the mountain, your company or industry is exciting. It pushes us to be better, to think smarter, to drive more results for ourselves and our organizations.

There are only two sources of competitive advantage: the ability to learn more about our customers faster than the competition and the ability to turn that learning into action faster than the competition. —Jack Welch

Upholding the Mission and Values

Team USA’s Mission: To support U.S. Olympic and Paralympic athletes in achieving sustained competitive excellence while demonstrating the values of the Olympic Movement, thereby inspiring all Americans.

Staying true to your mission and embodying core values are essential for anyone who wants to win. As an Olympic athlete, you must be true to yourself while representing your nation. You are held to the Olympic values of excellence, friendship, and respect. It requires great integrity, which we’ve occasionally seen lacking (yes, I’m speaking to you Tanya Harding and Ryan Lochte) and that puts a cloud not only on the individual athlete but the games themselves.

…integrity is just a ticket to the game. If you don’t have it in your bones, you shouldn’t be allowed on the field. —Jack Welch

Team First

The athletes at the opening ceremonies showed immense pride in representing their home countries. They are a team with a shared goal and will support each other through an Olympic record-breaking feat or nasty tumble. (Hopefully, the former.) Because being part of a team means lifting others up and hopefully showcasing Olympic pride to a new generation of athletes watching on TV.

Before you are a leader, success is all about growing yourself. When you become a leader, success is all about growing others. —Jack Welch

Show your Team USA support!

Be Quick to React

Adaptability is key. You may have practiced a track or skill 10,000 times, but when it comes down to the gold medal run, there could be an icy spot or some condition preventing you from performing the exact way you practiced. You must react quickly and efficiently in the relentless pursuit of your dream.

If you’re not flexible enough to handle rapid change and make quick decisions, you won’t win. —Jack Welch


Get Every Brain in the Game

Behind every great athlete is a support team. There is a parent who drove them to practices, a friend who cheered them on and a coach who spent hours evaluating tape and finding ways to improve performance. You don’t get to the top on your own. Realizing you don’t know everything and being open to suggestions for improvement will continually drive performance.

The team with the best players wins. —Jack Welch

Find a Better Way

The best of the best think out of the box. It all starts with a clear mind and set of priorities. They simplify the process assuming that the historical way of doing something is not the only way. You want to think BIG, stay focused and fearless to bring home the gold.

When launching something new, you have to go for it—“playing not to lose” can never be an option. —Jack Welch

Winning—Going for Gold

Winning isn’t everything, but it sure feels great. And who doesn’t want that?

Winning is fun. And that’s what I want you all to be winners. —Jack Welch

I wish all those competing in the PyeongChang 2018 Olympic games the best of luck. Thank you for allowing us all to dream. Now bring home some gold and WIN BIG for Team USA! And when you do, know an entire country is celebrating right along with you.

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