Have you reached your peak yet?

Are you just a few years away from reaching a personal best as a software developer; sales manager or HR professional? By the time of the Tokyo Olympics in 2020 will you be a much improved version of your current self. Sharper, fitter, faster?Photo mountain peak

For some of the athletes in the Rio Olympics their careers are peaking before they even turn 20. It could be downhill all the way from here. How depressing.

A few of them may end up briefly on the speaking circuit. They don’t normally last long. Some of them, unfortunately for us, will briefly appear on game shows or reality TV. Some drift in to coaching or sports administration. For a large percentage, in a few short years they will be finished as elite athletes.

I attended a school open day last month and was impressed when I heard the headmaster say that he wants his students to peak at 70, not 17. Life is a journey, he stressed, full of challenges and fresh opportunities. 

Those who achieve most success in their lives are always looking to improve. Like elite athletes, they don’t make excuses. They focus on results. He doesn’t want their HSC score to define them for the rest of their lives. It’s merely a starting point.

Truly great athletes need to continue to grow and develop. Like a good wine, they get better with age. Their success is often defined by their longevity. They have the hunger and desire to keep improving. They know that if they want to remain successful they cannot stand still. They look for ways to shave a few seconds off their times; to jump a few centimetres higher or to hold their nerve better when the heat is on.

The greats need some luck to avoid injury, but more than anything they require tenacity, sufficient funding and a great support team around them to keep going.
It can’t be easy getting up at 5am on a cold wet winters morning. The champions do it day in day out. They have the discipline to follow their dreams. They learn from their set – backs.

5 things you can learn from Olympic athletes:

  1. They look better in Lycra than you and I ever will
  2. Success is not purely defined by winning the event
  3. You need a great support team around you
  4. If you get knocked down, get up again quickly and keep going
  5. Set realistic goals and then pursue them, with laser like focus

Compare your life to an Olympian

In your career you need balance. If you go too hard in one area for too long you will risk trading off results in another area. It’s like a chair needs all 4 legs firmly on the ground to be secure. In your life those legs are: your career, your family and friends, your health and your interests. All 4 are critical.

For young athletes, they can afford to allocate up to 40 hours per week just to practice. They know that to be successful they must make sacrifices. Being selfish is a useful trait during this phase of their lives.

You and I simply can’t allocate the same amount of time to improving our performance. Our families and friends would quickly disown us. However, on the flip side, to achieve results for the people that matter; be they your board, your boss, your partner, your family or your staff you have to be focused. You have to have clarity on your goals, review them regularly and find ways to avoid becoming too distracted. Distract yourself from becoming distracted.

Ultimately, like a great athlete you need a clear career plan, knuckle down and get the job done.

The Rio Olympics have now finished. The athletes now have to re-assess if they want to be part of the Tokyo games in 4 years’ time.

Is it now time for you to think about where your career will be in 4 years’ time?

Remember, if you change nothing…nothing changes.

Can you see a better version of yourself in 4 years’ time?

A better leader, a more confident parent, a better friend, a fitter and stronger you? What’s holding you back from getting there?

How will you get there? Do you have a plan to make it happen? Who will support you to achieve those goals? 

In 4 years’ time I’ll be 53. Hard as it is to accept it I don’t think I’ll qualify for the Tokyo games as an athlete. Maybe I’ll make it there as a spectator, tour group leader or as the team mascot.

Posted in Leadership; Tagged Leadership; Posted by Steve Herzberg

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