Can you handle one more post about the many lessons learned from the Olympics?

Personally, I love it. I’m glad that so many people are inspired by the athletes; the discipline needed to qualify, compete, and achieve their goals; their performances, and the Olympics overall.Here’s my final contribution to lessons learned from the Olympics. It is by no means an exhaustive list.

Start with setting your goals. There are a lot of great examples of this among the Olympians, not the least of which is to qualify for the Olympics! Anything you set out to do, have a reason for it, a purpose, and a goal. Clearly-defined objectives.

Think about how you are going to deliver your best performance at the right time. In any athletic competition, you know the athletes need to dial in their training, their diets, and their focus all at the right time. They need to be on their game, at the top of their game, at the moment that matters. In the CX world, we talk about the importance of doing the right things to ensure an outstanding customer experience, like having…

  • the right people and leadership
  • the right data and insights
  • the right processes
  • the right tools and technology
  • the right culture

… all at the right time. Basically, the planets, moons, and stars are all aligned. Having competed in track, cross country, 10Ks, and bodybuilding, I can very easily sit here and write that all of the right conditions must come together in order to be at your peak performance at the right time.

Training is so important. This is the hard part. But without it, you cannot achieve your goals. Be disciplined, and stick with it. Put in the effort required to reach the goal. Nothing comes easy. Do and give your best or forget about it; otherwise, why be there. I probably don’t need to say this, but if you’re not prepared, don’t show up. How about in your business? How do you train your employees?  Is your training a continuous effort?

Continuous effort – not strength or intelligence – is the key to unlocking our potential. -Winston Churchill

Passion. Need I say more? These athletes are passionate about what they do. When you’re passionate about something, you put forth the effort to succeed. How many people believe that Michael Phelps has really retired and can stay away from the pool? Natalie Coughlin, at 29, says she’ll probably be back. She loves the life. She loves the training. She loves the pool. How about your employees? Your leaders? Are they passionate about what they do?

I believe grace, composure, and how you handle the pressure (and the press) are important to both customer experience and to leadership. Remember when Jordyn Wieber didn’t qualify for the women’s individual all-around? She fell apart after the heartbreak, but she regained her composure and congratulated her teammates. In the heat of the moment, is your frontline yelling at customers, or are they prepared to deal with whatever gets thrown at them?

I was reminded about consistency, too. Are you always on your game? Are you always giving your best performance, day in and day out? Let’s look at the Andy Murray – Roger Federer tennis match. A month prior to the Olympics, Murray lost to Federer at Wimbledon; but he beat Federer at the Olympics. There were plenty of other athletes who were expected to win the gold but ended up missing it by nanoseconds or by a mile. What does that inconsistency do to the athletes? What does it do for your business? How does it affect your customers? Do you have fair weather fans, or do your fans stick with you through thick and thin?

Throw in the unexpected. I think there were a lot of unexpected results, but one of the unexpected things that we saw in this Olympics was the Paralympic runner from South Africa, Oscar Pistorius, now dubbed “Blade Runner.” While he didn’t medal in the Olympics, his debut has created a heightened interest in the Paralympics, which will be held in London later this month; a surge in ticket sales has been seen.

And then there are your competitors. Sometimes you win not because you gave your best performance but because someone else gave their worst. Or vice versa. If you didn’t win, it’s because someone did it better. We saw this happen a few times at the Olympics. Is this happening in your business? Do you have your pulse on your competition? Be aware of what your competitors are doing, but keep your eyes on the ball, on your business. Be more focused on what you are doing. Be more focused on the experience you deliver; don’t give your customers a reason to stray to the competition.

Finally, as Peter Drucker said, “What gets measured gets managed.” Athletes live by this, whether their performance and their improvement gets measured by a clock, a scoreboard, or a measuring tape. Measuring performance is the best way to track improvements and progress toward your goals. It’s also a great way to keep everyone focused on the goal. Companies should (and do) measure and manage, as well: retention, attrition, satisfaction, engagement, repurchase, etc. Pick your metric. If you don’t know where you started, how will you know where you stand – and where you need to go?

Some great words of wisdom, tweeted by @Scott_Juba earlier this week, paraphrasing a quote he saw: “Act like you’re in first place, practice like you’re in second.”

And one more, tweeted by @doug_picirillo: “To ‘Usain Bolt’ something or somebody: To achieve unprecedented domination in some competitive endeavor.”