8 Key Lessons To YOUR Professional Success

Run your own race and let everyone else run theirs

Being in London and being part of the Olympics last year was such an emotional experience and taught me so much.  Truly.  Recently we celebrated the anniversary of The Games and it reminded me – all over again – of what it takes to go for – and win – GOLD.  It’s the same for your career and, especially as a professional woman, running your own race is crucial.  Let me explain.

Every race, every event and all the interviews before and after prove, without a doubt, the traits all the participants shared.  The physical fitness, age and cultural backgrounds all come in to play but I noticed, time and again, 8 clear success strategies. Ones that come in to play for us every single day in business, as in our lives.

I always listen to the words not being said as much as I listen for the words which are said?  Well, here’s what I really heard as London 2012 Olympics top takeaways and thought it was a good time to share them again with you.

  1. Commit – make a decision to do something, to be someone, to have something and commit to it.  No doubt, no waivering, no ‘faffing’. The stories of athletes moving countries away from their families to get the best training or support.  Making that level of commitment separates you from people who ‘would like to’ rather commit to.  Despite the injuries, the set backs, the personal traumas, they commit and stick to it. What are you 100% committed to and how does it separate you from the ‘well, I’d quite like to’ players?
  2. Prepare – the training, the lifestyle, the self-care, the mental game. I heard someone say they had run the race in their head so many times so when it came to it and came to winning he felt he already had. He just had to go out there and show us how he’d done it.  In business, to prepare, think through the angles, know your stuff, well it makes you able to be ‘loose’. You’re more flexible when it’s real because you’ve been through it so many times before it was. What are you preparing for and how are you running through it in advance, again and again so you can be ‘loose’ too?
  3. Respect – your competition and get to know them.  Keep an eye and an ear on what other people are doing and respect them for it. There always seemed to be a healthy regard and respect for the competing athletes.  In business, the same attitude helps. In reality no one has the same skills, the same experience, the same story as you. Rather than try to be a clone of someone else, be you and bring your own personality and pizzazz to everything you do and it will always make you special. No one else can do it like you.  What do you know makes you special and different and how could you allow yourself to stand out more for it? 
  4. Support  – take the advice and know-how of people who can see your game as you’re playing it.  Their experience and knowledge then becomes inextricably mixed with your own. Every athlete always cited their coach and mentor in their thanks because they see things you simply couldn’t. I know this to my toes in my business and bring this to my clients in theirs. Who supports you and gives you guidance and input whilst flying your flag with you? 
  5. Believe – or go home!  I definitely heard that a few times. If you don’t believe in yourself, how can you expect anyone else to?  Standing sure and firm in your belief in yourself isn’t about showing off and being like a peacock, it’s about self-certainty. You know you can’t control what anyone else does, says or how they play the game.   You control how you behave and how you believe and keep believing. The phrase ‘I never, never, never gave up believing’ was a London 2012 quotable. What about you – what are you standing sure and firm in yourself about?
  6. Extra – that extra 10% you don’t think you have.  When you need it, you do have it.  The stories of that extra push, that final “I just went for it” energy that somehow we have when we call it up.  So many Gold medalists and athletes getting their personal bests said “suddenly, I just found more in the tank”.  When you think of something you achieved because you found that extra 10% from somewhere, what difference did it make for you? 
  7. Celebrate – you could virtually see a switch flick.  The concentration, the mental strength, the focus.  Then, the delivery.  Then came the celebrations, the relief and the release.  It’s a true part of the process in whatever you’re setting out to achieve to allow yourself – and anyone else involved – time to celebrate and acknowledge what’s been achieved.  Too often it’s straight on to the next challenge, well have a quick look Usain Bolt’s ‘happy dance’  after winning the 100M Gold and have a smile at his moment.  What’s something coming up for you which you’ll prepare to do your ‘happy dance’ about?
  8. Run – your own race.  I heard this phrase so often.  Rather than be pushed or mind-gamed by other athletes, the press, the crowd, you stick to your plan because it is your own race.  No one else has the same cards to play with as you and no one else wants the same things as you, they’re not you.  It’s obvious and it’s easy to forget. Whose race are you running and what’s it really about for you?

With all the highs and lows, the twists and turns of our own day-to-day work, rest and play time, I believe Baz Luhrmann, the film director hits it squarely on the nose.

It’s as true for you as a career women as it is for an Olympian athlete.

“Sometimes you’re ahead, sometimes you’re behind.  The race is long, but in the end it’s only with yourself.”

I always remind clients when they come to choice points  “You’re playing with your own hand of cards.  They’re different from everyone else’s.  Play yours.”

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