I am not one to idolize people. For that reason I find it very hard to be a spectator of sporting events. As I try to sit still on my bum, my mind starts racing and the little voice inside my head starts saying things like: “sure, those athletes got to be where they’re at by sitting – just like you are right now – on their bums…I think not.”
Particularly when there are guys running in short shorts bashing against one another (i.e. rugby or footie) or it involves watching paint dry (i.e. cricket, golf or baseball), I find it very hard to dispute my little voice so I end up getting up to do something productive with my life. (Like write a post for my blog)
However, when it comes to sitting on my bum to watch the Olympics, it’s very easy for me to dispute my little voice. I simply need to say something like: ”Shut up and watch – because this is my chance every four years – to learn from the best of the best in their field.”
And that, my little voice cannot argue against.
So what do I look for when I watch Olympians do their thing? Honestly? I look for what’s in it for me, particularly for skills that they have that will help me succeed in my own life. Because I’ve spent the vast majority of my adult life working in the business world (except for the two years that I worked inside industrial kitchens as a party chef), the fact is that I don’t have much use for a world-class pole vaulting technique, or a world-class summersault, but I can certainly learn from what athletes do to get to the peak of their careers, their world-class soft skills.
This is my favorite one:
World-class soft-skill #1: Goal setting
I love the process of setting goals because it gives me the opportunity to choose where I want to go in life based on what’s important to me, not someone else. By knowing what matters to me, I know what I need to focus on, and as important, I know what I can label as a distraction that needs to be ignored.
Contrary to what free-spirited people tend to think, having goals does not take away your freedom or spontaneity. I’ve found it to be quite the opposite. Whenever I’ve set goals for myself, I’ve been able to exercise my freedom of choice. I am being proactive and choosing what I want, as opposed to accepting what others dish out and whatever comes my way.
And what can be more liberating than making my own choices in life?
Think about a life without goals, where others make choices for you, based on what’s important for them. Doesn’t sound like much fun, huh?
Also, whenever I have something to work towards in the long-run, like for example when I was training to run the Disney World marathon, it’s easier for me to stay motivated in the short-run.
Just imagine how excited an athlete feels when they decide to train to make it to the Olympics. Their training starts years in advance. The likelihood is that in between they feel a lot of pain and make a lot of sacrifices. But I can guarantee that they feel that being at the Olympics is worth every drop of sweat along the way.
The same applies to your work life. Lets say that your goal for the next 5 years is to land a national management position. That’s your Olympic event. Of course along the way you’ll have to make sacrifices (which by the way, in my book a sacrifice is giving up something good for something better) and do things that you’re not naturally inclined to do, and even sweat it at times. But doing all those things becomes a lot easier when there’s a. an end in site and b. a larger purpose behind them (‘a raison d’être’). Stapling papers for a boss can be a soul crushing exercise, (I know) but if your job as an office assistant is your launch pad for getting to that management position, well, stapling papers is a great way for you to learn how someone who will report to you one day, feels like and how you need to manage them. See what I mean?
Your turn now.
What will you be thinking about when you’re sitting on your bum watching Olympians do their thing in Beijing?