Applicable Career Lessons from The Olympic Games

  | 6 min read

Learn how to improve your career from the olympics

The Olympic games are here with us and just like previous times, the world is tuned in to watch the world’s best sportsmen and women compete for the coveted gold. A win at the Olympics is the height of every sports person’s dream. Stars are made and giants are overtaken at the Olympics. As you try to find out whether your favourite sports person has bagged a medal, here is what you can learn from the Olympics and apply in your career.

  • Practise, practise, practise

The glitz and glamour displayed at the Olympics games are just the tip of the iceberg. Beneath the surface lies hours and days of blood, sweat and tears. The athletes at the Olympics wake up at the crack of dawn to practise as you turn in your cosy bed. It does not matter whether the weather is favourable or not, practising is their only way to success and so the athletes soldier on. Then when the Olympics come, all those hours of practice are rewarded with shiny medals.

This is what happens on a typical office day. You wake up every day and go to the office to get things done. If you are involved in a new project, you learn the ropes and get down to work. Your daily input is the equivalent of an Olympian’s practise. Then, when an opportunity to move forward comes, you are rewarded with a pay rise, a promotion or a good job offer, when the industry finally recognises your work.

comfort zone

  • Get out of your comfort zone

The weather and terrain of different Olympic venues are varied and it can take a toll on an athlete’s body. On the other hand, an athlete’s body only learns resilience when subjected to different terrains and weather patterns. This is the reason why athletes from all over the world come to practise in, Iten to take advantage of the high altitude. This builds their resilience which is important, especially in long races. The athletes leave the comfort of their environments to train in difficult weather conditions so as to develop the right body condition for the very competitive Olympic races. This has been known to help many athletes win in the most unlikely races.

Conversely, when you are at work, learn to push yourself. Learn to go beyond your call of duty and perform challenging tasks which help you acquire new skills. You can only learn so much through formal training and as such, you should always take advantage of new learning opportunities at the workplace. Participating in that project that challenges your knowledge and skills is what will help you acquire new skills, which might just give you that new skill that is on demand.


  • Get a good mentor

Athletes have coaches who are experienced and know the tricks and strategies that can help them win in the Olympics. The coach learns the athlete’s strengths and weaknesses and guides the athlete on how to balance both for a win. A good coach is an independent observer who helps the athlete stay on course and constantly pushes him/ her to reach the peak. A bad coach is toxic to an athlete’s career, as witnessed with the recent doping scandals, assisted by coaches.

A career mentor acts like a coach. He/ she is more experienced and knows the industry’s do’s and don’t’s. A good mentor will help you exploit your strengths and overcome your weaknesses. The mentor also pushes you so that you can bring out your best and shine in your career.

bad day

  • Bad days are to be expected

World-class athletes have fit bodies that can withstand most extreme activities that can break an unfit person. These are athletes who are less prone to injuries than the average guy on the street. However, even the best athlete in the world is still prone to injuries and career-threatening problems. However, when this happens, the athletes take a back seat and take the time to recover and then start training all over again to achieve Olympic-level fitness.

No one’s career is a smooth sail. Sometimes, you have to deal with bad bosses, negative colleagues, obnoxious clients or factors that are beyond your control but affect your job. It is the reality. But when this happens, learn from the athletes, take a back seat, take the time to analyse the situation and learn from it then get back on track.


  • Avoid harmful career practices

Great giants have been brought down by doping scandals. We have all seen cases where renowned athletes are stripped of their medals and glory due to be doping scandals. It is the most embarrassing and heartbreaking thing in an athlete’s career.

Same way, avoid harmful career practices such as drunkenness, backstabbing and greed if you want to get ahead in your career. There are so many cases of employees who have robbed their employers and ended up in jail with their careers ruined, forever.


  • Observe strict discipline

It takes discipline and diligence to wake up every day and practice for a race that will only last for 10 seconds or one hour. However, for an athlete to race in record time at the Olympics, he/she has to wake up daily and train so as to achieve the best time. This also means that the athlete has to avoid harmful practices which pose a danger to his/her career.

In the same way, it is easy to take the shortcut at work or ignore standards because you feel like nobody’s watching. However, indiscipline is usually costly in the long run. Indiscipline has been at the centre of the collapsing banks in recent months. The executives did not see the need to observe strict discipline with the assumption that their mistakes would not be noticed. However, just like some athletes who have doped for long periods without being caught, indiscipline eventually catches up.

hard work

  • Talent has to be accompanied by hard work in order to win

Talent is what gets an athlete started. The Olympic games are a congregation of talented athletes who represent their respective countries in highly competitive activities. Despite being highly talented, these athletes have had to put in hours of hard work so as to emerge as winners in their respective games. It takes hours of hard work so as to become winners. Talent is not enough to win an Olympic gold.

You could be the most talented person in your organisation or department. However, if you do not work hard and improve your skills constantly, even the least talented but hard working person can get ahead of you. It takes a strong combination of talent and hard work in order to emerge as a winner.

Enjoy the games!

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