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This year in the Sochi Olympics, sisters Justine and Chloe Dufour-Lapointe took the gold and silver medals, respectively, in women’s moguls skiing. Right after their win, the sisters shared their perspective on how they stay motivated in their quest for success.
Small business owners, like athletes, compete to win in the marketplace day-in and day-out. Setting goals, staying inspired and envisioning success can help keep your small business on track.
Here are three golden lessons learned from the Dufour-Lapointe sisters.
Be a Perfectionist and Then Let Go
Chloe talked about herself as a perfectionist wanting that medal more than anything and aiming for a perfect run every time. In order to do so, she and her coach prepared a plan, stuck to it and went through it step-by-step from the warm-up, to the training runs and so on. However during the actual competition, she had to let go. She concentrated on the small things, breath by breath, turn by turn and tried to be in the moment as much as possible to be her best self. She trusted that the plan they had in place has prepared her to fully take advantage of the opportunity she had worked so hard for.
As a small business owner, we often create business plans, marketing plans, etc. – and then never refer to them. If prepared properly, this is a roadmap to where you want to go. If you know it’s the “perfect plan,” why aren’t you implementing it?
Train yourself to block out distractions and do the things you really need to do to get to the finish line. Make those sales calls; learn a new marketing tactic; hire someone better than you. It’s easy to give up when disappointments hit – numbers aren’t met, media aren’t writing about you, a key employee leaves. You may have a wrong turn here and there, but you can always learn from those mistakes, let go, and get back on track.
Motivational speaker Tony Robbins has said:
“Most people overestimate what they can accomplish in a year – and underestimate what they can achieve in a decade!”
Have a Mantra
Just before Justine went on her gold medal run, her coach told her, “Attack and Souple!” Translated from French to English, souple can mean “flexible.” “Attack and Be Flexible” was like a mantra for Justine.
More than a slogan, your mantra describes what you value and how you approach every aspect of your business. It’s only three to four words long and should resonate with your staff and customers. A mantra can become a company-wide focal point for daily operations and help you and your employees truly understand why your company exists.
A few well-known examples are:
UPS: “We love logistics”
Nike: “Authentic athletic performance”
Target: “Democratize design”
Mary Kay: “Enriching women’s lives”
For my shoe company, our mantra is “All women are sexy”. While always a work in progress, our mantra helps us with the visuals we create, the tone we take with our customers, our efforts on social media and quite frankly, the fun we have with our brand as we inspire and help women find that sexiness – inside and out.
Enjoy Your Win
Even more amazing about the Dufour-Lapointe sisters is that Justine and Chloe had another sister in the competition. Maxime finished a respectable 12th and when asked how she felt about not being on the podium, she talked about trying her best, how she has grown to be the athlete she wanted to be and the core value of support that her family has for each other. It was clear how much the sisters enjoyed their win – for themselves and for each other.
As small business owners, we often forget to celebrate our wins. We only look to the big goal and not pay enough attention to the many small wins and milestones that it takes to get there. This was a milestone for Maxime even if she didn’t “win”. It can only help her for her next competition.
If you’re looking for a more scientific reason, Shawn Achor, Harvard professor, spent 12 years studying happiness in the work environment and his book The Happiness Advantage covers some interesting insights behind human motivation:
“Feeling that we are in control, that we are masters of our own fate at work and at home, is one of the strongest drivers of both well-being and performance… employees who feel they have high levels of control at the office are better at their jobs and report more job satisfaction. These benefits then ripple outward. A 2002 study of nearly 3,000 wage and salaried employees for the National Study of the Changing Workforce found that greater feelings of control at work predicted greater satisfaction in nearly every aspect of life: family, job, relationships, and so on. People who felt in control at work also had lower levels of stress, work-family conflict, and job turnover.”
People want to be recognized for their efforts. Employees want to feel like they have contributed to their work environment. Celebrating small victories does just that. Recognize them — both the small victories and those responsible — inside your company and with your customers and it will pay huge dividends to your entire team’s success.
What about you? What lessons have you learned about staying inspired and motivated to reach your goals?
Elena is founder of a technology PR agency that works with startups to billion-dollar companies. She is passionate about helping marketers and small business owners with practical publicity strategies, which she's also using for her own bling flip flop company.
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