From the weightlifters to the synchronized swimmers, from the marathon runners to the table tennis players, all the athletes at 2012 Olympic and Para Olympic Games have earned the honor of competing among the best in the world.
Job seekers and anyone wanting to advance in their career can learn from these Olympians. Here are seven ways having the mindset and the work ethic of an athlete can help you in your workplace.
Many of the Olympic competitors are in their teens or early 20s. However, these young athletes have dedicated most of their short lives to learning and advancing in a specific skill set.
U.S. swimmer Katie Ledecky, age 15, is the youngest person to win a gold medal for the 800m race. The champion started swimming at age 5. She has spent more time in a swimming pool in the past 10 years than most of us will spend in a lifetime. She does it because she is committed to being the best swimmer she can be.
What are you doing to be the best in your career field? What are you doing to set yourself apart from other job seekers so that, ultimately, you can get hired and succeed in the right job for you?
2. Be a Team Player.
Even the Olympic athletes that complete in individual-sport events have coaches, trainers, their families, and other athletes supporting them. Find a mentor or someone in your personal cabinet to help you with career decisions.
Who on your team can help you make informed decision about your career? Do you know where to go when you have a setback at work or in your job search? Who is there to help you achieve your career wins?
3. Know the Field.
A wrestler understands the rules of a match. An archer knows how her arrow will fly on a windy day. A basketball player works with his teammates’ strengths.
A job seekers needs to know certain things before contacting employers.
• What is the salary range for your position? Does it vary by size or type of company?
• What types of companies hire someone with your skills? Who are the major employers in your area?
• Where do you go for career information information, either online or in person?
• What are the professional associations for you to meet others in your industry and find information about employers?
“Nothing in the world is worth having or worth doing unless it means effort, pain, difficulty… I have never in my life envied a human being who led an easy life. I have envied a great many people who led difficult lives and led them well.”
The Olympic Village is filled with people who have made physical, emotional and financial sacrifices to get to the top of their career. Gold-medal gymnast Gabby Douglas left home at age 14 to train with a top coach. Think of how difficult that was for the teen and for her family.
Most job seekers do not make such dramatic sacrificed to qualify or apply for a job. However, landing your ideal job might include some difficult decisions.
- Have you ever worked two jobs, or worked overtime or odd shifts to gain experience that will help you in the future?
- Did you ever take a job for less pay to start strong in a new career path?
- Have you saved money or applied for financial aid to get an advanced degree or specialized training?
Think about the life choices you have made while pursuing your education or career goals. Some of the sacrifices you and your family have made are worthy of a gold medal.
5. Celebrate Milestones.
Missy Franklin did not swim the 200m in 2 min 4.06 seconds her first time in the pool. She continued to train, recognizing that she was getting faster, and eventually she broke the world record for fasted backstroke.
You, too, should smile every time to take a step forward in your career or education. Celebrate every time an employer calls for an interview. Pay attention to each positive performance reviews. Notice when you master a new skill or gain competencies such as project management or increase your communication skills.
6. Represent Something Larger than Yourself.
Olympic athletes sacrifice and work hard for years not only so they can get recognition and potential commercial endorsements. The athletes complete on behalf of their country.
Who or what are you working for? Why do you want to find the right job or advance in your career – and don’t say “it’s only about the money,” because it isn’t.
At the end of your career — or at the end of this pay period — you probably want to know that the work you did meant something. Other than to pay your bills, why are you sacrificing and committing to your career?
Not every day is going to be a medal-ceremony day. Some days you might not want to go to work. In addition, it can be hard sometimes for job seekers to look for job leads … again. Having a career focus that matches your interests and personality can help keep you going.
When you are feeling unsure of yourself, or things seem too difficult to overcome, just think of the Olympic athletes. Nothing is impossible of you have the right skills and dedication, supportive people around you, and are committed to going for the gold.
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