sink or swim…..? why athletes are the best business models.

After a considerable absence I have decided to plunge head on into exercise again (swimming, my choice of torture). Previously a fairly competent swimmer, now very unfit, my third session was some what of a struggle and saying I resembled a dead fish – would be kind……. they at least float! It made me think (whilst focusing in solitude on the long black line) that …well… it has a pretty strong analogy to approaching business. Starting the “training session” I meandered along behind my coach (dad). I loosely knew the session, what I wanted to achieve distance wise – but hey if I didn’t feel like it – I would cut corners, stop at one end, have a rest and was generally unfocused and feeling sorry for my out-of-breathe self. There were no other targets other than getting out alive and in time to watch The Good Wife.

Half way through, a squad of amazonian women who looked like they were out to break the Olympic record for butterfly, in their spare time, forced us out of the lane and then demonstrated what focused, determined and well trained athletes looked like. You know the ones that have a goal, are dedicated, pick experts in their field who draw up detailed plans to guide, coach and encourage them every step of the way and constantly remind them of why they are doing it in the first place. It was hard not to feel that the stronger, more aggressive “competition” was squeezing me out. And when I finally decided to bring out my secret weapon (flippers) to get back in the game – it was too late! I was swamped in a lane with a dozen other swimmers only able to go 3 metres before stopping and weighing up whether I had time (and the inclination) to overtake before oncoming swimmers.

Business too is brutal. This is what I have gleaned from the focused athlete …………and why most of them succeed in business long after they have hung up their cosies.

1. Success- they know what they what to achieve and what defines success for them. 

2. Planning – they pick experts that will help them achieve that success with detailed, daily reference.

3. Goal setting – They break down the long term goal into managable AND measured steps to keep them on track. (or as my husbands training in management taught him “chunk the elephant”… you will hear me bang on about this.)

4. Dedication/focus and drive. They work (hard) at it EVERYDAY.

5. Competition – they know everything about their competitors and what it takes to be better than them.

6. Innovation – they keep up with new methods, training regimes and motivation techniques.

and lastly and most importantly …….(at least I think) they have……

AMBITION. They want to achieve greatness, they are dedicated, passionate and hell bent on getting there – whatever it takes!!

In discussing this with my father (a professional swimming coach for 30 years) the thing he finds so interesting is that even the average Joe wanting to get in shape will pay good money for a coach to keep them on track yet most people starting out in business ….decide to swim it alone!


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