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Bringing Your ‘A-Game’ to Your Startup Launch

February 22, 2010

Vancouver 2010 Olympics Logo I have spent the last several days on vacation in south Florida, visiting my folks on the occasion of my father’s 83rd birthday. I brought my laptop, which I rarely travel with, because I was sure I would find the time to write a daily post for my Low Cost Startups blog. Now sitting in the West Palm Beach airport, way early for my flight (we were sure the airport would be mobbed with people returning North after President’s week) I have the first opportunity to actually turn my thoughts to business and the task of creating something cohesive and interesting to share with readers.

I realized upon arrival in sunny Delray Beach (yes the sun came out and gave us the mild, breezy, temperate weather that people flock here for) that the best gift I could give my Dad for his birthday was to focus on the primary reason for my trip, spending time with my parents, rather than my usual habit of squeezing in “productive” work hours. As a result I stayed relaxed and made my focus having a great weekend celebrating my Dad’s birthday. I am happy to report that a good time was had by all.

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I couldn’t help noticing how many parallels I could draw between being an Olympic champion and launching a successful startup.

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We spent some evenings watching the Winter Olympic events. Even though I was taking a break from writing blog posts, I couldn’t help noticing how many parallels I could draw between being an Olympic champion and launching a successful startup. Like most non-Olympians, I have always been fascinated by the amazing dedication that Olympic athletes exhibit at the games. They are so serious about everything, their complete confidence in their ability to win the gold, their mental preparation, their incredible levels of physical fitness. We watch them in awe, admiring their determination, discipline, just about everything about them. We get glimpses of a competitor as he waits for his turn, eyes closed and ignoring the cameras fixed on his every move, as he is obviously going through a visualization exercise, imagining the slope, the ice rink or the bobsled course, seeing himself going through each move perfectly until he crosses the finish line to win the gold medal.

Bode Miller(www.guardian.co.uk) We see these champions at their very best, and expect nothing less than a tremendous performance. This is why we tune in to the Olympics, to share these ‘mountain top’ moments in the athletes’ careers. Whether they go home with a medal, or crash and burn before they reach the finish line, we witness these individuals giving their all to achieve their goal.

Win or lose, their intention is to bring on their ‘A-Game’ every time they compete. In order to have the chance to show their ‘A-Game’, they work day in and day out, for countless hours, doing everything they can to prepare them for the big moment. And we expect nothing less of them. As I watched some of the video clips of athletes preparing for the Games back home, I was struck with the obvious – just how much hard work and perseverance it takes to get to the Olympics. And it’s not just a few months of training anymore. In order to be competitive today an athlete must dedicate most of his or her years leading up to the Olympics doing everything possible to prepare to win.

Quote for Today:

You have to learn the rules of the game. And then you have to play better than anyone else.
Albert Einstein

Applying this analogy to a small business startup is very empowering. It becomes clear that planning and preparation are THE critical factors. None of these big wins happen overnight. And several of the winning athletes we’ve seen in the last 10 days had near catastrophic setbacks along their road to Winter Olympics XXI. Yet they still were driven to be the best in their sport, and go back to develop their ‘A- Game’ all over again.

The takeaway here is that just like an Olympian going after the gold medal, a hopeful entrepreneur must be willing to put in the time and effort to prepare for launching a new startup. You can’t expect to bring your ‘A- Game’ to the business world without the same planning, hard work and conditioning we have been witnessing in the Vancouver Games this last week.

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