With less than 45 days until Vancouver hosts the 2010 Winter Olympics there really is little else our city has on its mind right now. As I sit looking out the window in Whistler village watching another round of glorious snowflakes fall, my thoughts draw to the parallel of how corporate business is so much like the business of sports. In looking back over 2009 there is so much we have to be thankful for and so much we have achieved.
Surrounded by images of athletes in the Olympic village of Whistler, I find the journey of a professional athlete fascinating. Not so much as to their almost, and at many times, celebrity status, but for the power of the mind of these tremendous individuals.
When I think of professional sports the first thing that comes to mind is courage. As I flew down a double black run on Whistler mountain yesterday on my newly tuned skis chasing my 8 year old daughter, I couldn’t help but think of courage. The classic story of how Pheidippides, the Athenian messenger who ran 25 miles from Marathon to Athens to deliver the message of ‘rejoice, we triumph!’ and who then falls dead is an original example of courage. Lululemon Athletica states on their iconic sustainable bags, ‘do one thing that scares you each day” is also testament to this message. Courage. It’s what drives athletes to succeed and business to reach breakthrough performance. Courage makes teams strong. But it is in knowing when to shake it off and when to actually step away that athletes and businesses succeed or fail.
‘Encourage’ means literally to build courage into someone else. To encourage is to inspire. 2009 was all about courage. For us and for most businesses, this was a unprecendented time in our history where patterns of business were out of balance. Or perhaps this event actually sent us wildly spiraling towards balance. It brought about new realities. Just like it may be said for athletes as for businesses that achieve success, it might be some part luck, but mostly it is the right amounts of courage. Looking back on the year, we kept our eye on the storm this past year and faced it head on. We didn’t dive for cover or seek shelter. We drew upon the tools and skills we knew had made us strong. And with courage and iron will we did it. And we leave 2009 stronger and on a solid growth trajectory. Now the key for our success will be found in our ability to ensure that we can handle our growth and provide leadership to our growing team. Business leadership’s role is to do just that- lead. But to encourage is perhaps one of the most powerful tools a coach can share with their team. We plan to. Here’s to much success and courage in 2010!
photo credit: Tim in Sydney