Whether or not you’re watching (I am!), just the idea of the Olympics can stir up a lot of emotions. Soaring pride and patriotism. Fear about health threats and terrorism. Absolute amazement at the power and grace of the Olympic athletes.

So what’s your Olympic lesson?

What lesson can you take from these elite performers? What trait most inspires you to up your own game? And I’m not talking about sports.

  • Risk-taking. Like the road bike racers who ramp up to speeds of 50 mph with nothing more than a helmet for protection, Olympians are constantly taking risks and daring to fail. While your risks don’t need to be life threatening, what are you willing to try in your personal or professional life that you’ve never done before? Put a time-stamp on your positive risk and share it with a favorite accountability buddy who’ll hold you task.
  • Competitive spirit. It’s fascinating to see the athletes switch back and forth from individual to team competition. There seems to be such camaraderie of spirit, even among the long-time competitors who’ve met each other in the heat of battle many times. Whether you are in business for yourself or work for a corporation, who among your competitors could also be your collaborators?  Extend an invitation to share notes and swap workplace practices and see how you both can benefit.
  • Pacing. Watching the bikers and swimmers pace themselves, particularly in the grueling 400 meter swim (with the possible exception of the awesome Katie Ledecky who gets out front and stays there) is a lesson in strategic timing. They have to know when to conserve that last bit of energy and when to pour it on if they want to go the distance. Where are you expending too much energy and where do you need to push a little harder? Make some adjustments to be more time-sensitive and more productive.
  • Focus. Finally, it’s the Olympians’ single-minded focus and willingness to persevere against enormous odds that speaks to me. Like David Plummer, a first-time competitor in men’s back-stoke at age 30, old by Olympic standards. Though he missed qualifying for the last Olympics, he stuck with it and now he’s in the heat of the competition. Whether he takes home a medal or not, he’s a winner in my book.

Now that we’re just over halfway through the year, what will you focus on to reach your year-end goal?