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Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Going for the Gold

Normally I'll provide content regarding the awesome team and events in the Southern California Economic Unit, but with the Summer Olympics still resonating (how about those opening and closing ceremonies); it seems fitting to raise the subject about what it takes to be a champion in our business.

A gold medal is the Olympic hallmark that announces to the world that you’re the best. Whether you receive one gold medal or eight, like our modern day Aqua Man, Michael Phelps. A gold medal means you’re an outstanding athletic professional. You have garnered the respect and admiration of your peers. People aspire and desire to be like you.

To be champion requires several key attributes. Here are just a few.

All great athletes have a desire to be the best in their field. When an athlete first gets the bug to perform they are consumed with perfecting their skill. They eat, sleep and drink their sport. In interviews you often hear athletes talk about who their athletic mentors and heroes are; the seasoned athletes whom they model themselves after and want to become. A well rounded athlete also knows that it’s a privilege to have the physical and mental capability to compete. As such, they are committed to go the distance for the honor of being titled “The Best”.

Being the best is an integral part of human nature. As business professionals we all have a desire to be the best at what we do. We strive to be at the top of our game; not from an ego standpoint but from a quality standpoint. We train, educate ourselves, and strive to be the very best in our field. We look to internal and external leaders in our industry and learn what makes them highly successful and so darn good at what they do. We study and apply their techniques. We look to the day when we can become masters of our craft. To be considered one of “The Best”.

If an athlete is anything it’s dedicated. You hear story after story of athletes who got up at the crack of dawn every day and worked through bone crushing, grueling training sessions. Despite the tired muscles, exhaustion, blisters, failures etc, they remained committed to their sport with a laser like focus on the ultimate prize. A dedicated athlete is always in “The Zone”.

A champion professional is without fail dedicated to their trade. They are committed to the process, their colleagues, industry, clients, and vision. They are ready, willing and able to go the distance. Whether it’s working long hours, undergoing years of training, using outside of the box strategies, or overcoming countless obstacles, they remain steadfast in their dedication to seeing the job through to the end. A champion professional stays focused on his/her goal, shows up each day with their game face on and is always in “The Zone”.

Athletes are motivated by many factors. I’ve often heard that it’s the drive to meet the challenge and know you have the capability of accomplishing something great that motivates an athlete to go beyond their comfort zone and reach for what others would deem impossible. Athletes are often quoted saying “It’s only difficult after it’s done”. How true this is.

As such, a champion professional is motivated by the drive and challenge to go beyond meeting their clients’ and superiors' expectations. To reach beyond what they thought was impossible. It could be taking on a role in un-chartered waters only to realize (or maybe even be shocked to know) you truly did have what it takes to accomplish great things. Being properly motivated allows you maintain your composure during difficult situations, having a good attitude during the repetition of the job, and not letting your failures overcome you but rather stretch you beyond your limits. It’s having a healthy, competitive drive and the desire to win; and getting your clients and superiors to say “Well done”.

Experiencing “That Moment”. A dedicated athlete dreams night and day about making it to the Olympics, and more importantly, standing on the coveted middle box to accept their well deserved gold medal. The struggles, pains, and frustrations all fade to the background as the crowd’s cheer, the anthem plays and they bask the sweet taste of victory.

I’ve had the opportunity to experience professional victories and the joy of taking in that “that moment” is priceless and well worth the journey to get there. No matter what the obstacle, a difficult client, a weak market, hard to find talent, or going weeks without seeing a placement, it’s vitally important to use your champion attributes, stay the course and apply your years of training. Use your mentors for guidance and most importantly, don’t deny yourself the win. There’s nothing like having “That Moment” when you’re standing in the winners circle. Now… on your mark… get set… go!

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