The London 2012 Olympics are coming to a close.  As I reflect on the thrills and exceptional performances, it started me wondering how the road to the Olympics parallels our own leadership journeys.

Embody the Mindset

If you have been following the 2012 games at all you have no doubt noticed Oscar Pistorius of South Africa, the first double-amputee to compete.

Pistorius said his mother was so adamant about not treating him any differently than his brother Carl that she once told him, “Carl, you put on your shoes and Oscar you put on your legs, and that’s the last I want to hear about it.” “I didn’t grow up thinking I had a disability,” Pistorius said. “I grew up thinking I had different shoes.”

As leaders, we can learn from Oscar and his mother.  You may not have the title yet, but nevertheless, you can embody the qualities of the leader you want to be.  One day you may get the title, and more importantly, you’ll already be a leader on the inside.

Commit to Your Vision

No pun intended here in telling the story of the blind archer Im Dong-hyun of South Korea.

Im has 20/200 vision in his left eye but that doesn’t keep him from “shooting through feel,” as he calls it.  Im went on to beat many of his own records in preliminary rounds this Olympic season.

Im, not unlike runner Pistorius, calls on his resourcefulness and perseverance to bring into reality his vision of competing at the Olympic-level.  What does it take for you as a leader to achieve your vision, even when it appears the deck is stacked against you?

Watch Your Step

I was struck in watching U.S. Olympian A. G. Kruger teaching a journalist how to “hammer throw” on TV recently. It was clear from his demonstration that to be at the Olympic-level of hammer throwing you need to know where to place each step, when to take a breath, when you start to raise your arm, and not a moment sooner…

A.G., like athletes in many other sports, will have practiced so much that the movements come naturally –so that an Olympic performance comes naturally.  He will have practiced so that he knows each moment inside and out.  He knows what happens when he rushes or when he holds back a second too long.

A great leader is very aware of her performance as she moves through each day.  She notices what works and what does not, until pretty soon, it comes naturally.

I invite you to consider the Olympians who caught your eye this year.  What can we learn from them about leadership?

Image – Microsoft Clipart

Mary C Schaefer
As a coach, trainer and consultant, Mary Schaefer's expertise is in helping managers and employees conquer their dread about difficult conversations, to go into them feeling equipped and confident. Personally and professionally, Mary's mission is to create work cultures where organizations and human beings can both thrive. Mary is a former HR manager, holds a Master's degree in HR and is certified as a Professional in Human Resources (PHR). She is co-author of the book, "The Character-Based Leader." You can follow Mary on Twitter (@MarySchaefer) or join her email list at bit.ly/mary-list
Mary C Schaefer

@MarySchaefer

Speaker/Coach/Trainer/Author, specializing in #EmpoweredManager(s) and #HumansAtWork. Fierce Idealist/Farmer's Daughter
When I know myself deeply --deeply enough to *know* the human experience-- I can be truly compassionate. #empoweredmanager @MarySchaefer - 13 hours ago
Mary C Schaefer
Mary C Schaefer