A few months back the most decorated American Winter Olympic athlete of all time, Apolo Ohno, was a weekend guest at the home of my daughter Nicole while he was making a personal appearance tour which included Philadelphia. A gracious guest, Apolo openly shared much of his personal story as a youth as well as the philosophy he has discovered along the way. It’s a philosophy not just about sport, but about life. In his book Zero Regrets, he shares his secrets for achieving total focus and mental toughness. Of course, Apolo’s application of such focus is based in the experience of competing against the most talented skaters on the planet in full view of the eyes of millions of fans around the world. But Apolo’s philosophy is as much about life as it is about sport. Whether the focus be school, business, or parenthood, there has to be a vision, a dream and a plan. Then you chase that with everything you have through your personal training, hard work, commitment and overall intensity.
What I find compelling is that the lessons one learns as an athlete are the pillars of the profile of the most successful business people I know. One’s success in business can only be achieved after years of training in your specific area of expertise coupled with knowledge of and respect for your adversary. You must also thoroughly understand time management issues, competitiveness, and success as a mindset. Having been an athlete myself probably from the age of six I was unaware that I was engaged in a 20 year training program to be the business person I am today. Everything I learned in sports has translated into my professional endeavors. All other things being equal, my experience as an employer and manager has made it easy for me to understand that if I hire an athlete, I’m hiring a winner.