What Businesses can Learn from the Oldest Olympian.
The Olympics. Those two simple words encompass immeasurable amounts of hope, determination, promise, heartache and victory.
I absolutely love the Olympics. I adore watching countries unify to cheer on their teams. I am mesmerized by the amazing displays of sportsmanship, athleticism and dedication by the athlete and their families. Most of all, I love watching these amazing Olympians realize their lifelong dream.
I’m a big softy. I sit on the edge of my seat when gymnasts take their first strides towards the vault. I hold my breath watching the swimmers come off the blocks and into the pool. I grip the arms of my couch watching the rowing teams power through the water.
And, I can’t watch a medals ceremony without getting teary eyed. History is made and dreams are achieved. It’s incredibly moving. (I admit I like hearing the Star Spangled Banner best… Go Team USA!)
There is no shortage of inspiration at the Olympics. There are so many incredible stories, but one interview really moved me. And no – it wasn’t Gabby, Missy, Felps, or Locke…
It was an interview with equestrian Hiroshi Hoketsu, age 71. Hoketsu’s first Olympic appearance was at the 1964 Tokyo Games in equestrian show jumping. Flash forward 48 years to London, where he is the oldest Olympian in the 2012 games.
Hoketsu was interviewed by the Associated Press and asked about his motivation. He said:
“The biggest motivation I have to keep competing is that I feel I am improving.”
Olympians are perceived to be at the top of their sport – the BEST of the best. Yet, here is a 71 old man who has achieved an incredible feat by qualifying for Olympics after Olympics – who wants to continue improving.
Improving the Best
All too often, I see business leaders overlook their best performers in an effort to build the skills of their lower performing ones. While the approach has merit, it misses a considerable opportunity.
Several years ago, I launched a sales training program for a large global organization. At first, the company only put their junior people in the room. They believed the high performers didn’t have the time or need the help.
Six months into the program, the global economic crisis hit. Despite the market meltdown, the junior people were still doing deals. And, the high performers took notice. It wasn’t long before the trainings were filled with experienced sales people AND the juniors. The result? The company generated millions in revenue during the recession, captured market share and recruited talent while their competitors struggled.
The Lesson? No matter how seemingly “good” someone is there is always the opportunity to grow and improve – just like Hoketsu.