Lessons From Sochi

February 13th, 2014 | Posted in General | Comments Off on Lessons From Sochi


I admit it – I am totally addicted to the Sochi Winter Olympics.  I don’t think it’s the ceremony, the grandeur of opening night, the national pride, or the wonders of Russia that has me hooked.  It is the total devotion to excellence and performance that keeps me coming back.

How many times have these athletes from 88 countries perfectly planted their soaring jumps, 720’s, triple lutzes, and airborne flips?  And yet when they need to perform at their peak, why do some fall short while others achieve their wildest dreams?

Dominant in the training runs, skier Bode Miller charged out of the start to the men’s downhill on Sunday.  While unnecessarily chasing a millisecond, he proceeded to slam into a gate panel and finished eighth.  Gold went to Matthias Mayer, 23, who had never finished higher than fifth in any international competition.

As snowboarder Jamie Anderson stood at the top of her course, she had only one run to capture the gold.  Although terrified, she took a deep breath and closed her eyes.  She imagined her run, felt the landings, saw her family cheering at the bottom, half a mile and 45 seconds away. And then she went and captured the gold.

Although Canadian figure skater Kaelyn Osmond took a tumble during her routine, Gracie Gold nailed her performance.  In an interview afterwards, Gracie said that she had learned a key lesson from basketball coach, Phil Jackson, “When you let go of all the fear, that’s when you find the love for, not just sports, but anything in life.”  And watching her skate was pure joy!

As an observer, it’s always hard to know why one person rises to the occasion while another falls short.  Having spent a career empowering people at every level of the organization to thrive in the most challenging situations, I take away three critical lessons from these Olympics:

  1. Focus on process, rather than outcome.  Be fully present.  Don’t get caught up in the crowds or the desire to win.  Just trust your game plan and execute on what you know will get you the gold.  As Inner Game coach Timothy Gallwey reminds us, “The greatest efforts in sports come when the mind is as still as a glass lake.”
  2. Visualize success.  Life is not a dress rehearsal – it is showtime!  It’s important to be able to see what you want and how to get there.  When you experience your visualization with all your senses, you are ready to execute.
  3. Reclaim your joy.   Under extreme stress, it’s important to let go of fear and reclaim the love for what you’re doing.  Envelop yourself in the joy of the moment.

Contact The Elkind Group to find out how we can help you apply these key lessons and execute under pressure to achieve your most important goals.

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