I’m watching the Women’s Downhill competition during the 2010 Vancouver Olympics this evening. I saw several women crash on the course, their Olympics dreams and year of preparation, go up in smoke. Business books are full of sports analogies, but for my part, I’m glad that the world of business is not really like the Olympics. Here’s how:
The Olympics are for the Young
Although there are a few 30-something and 40-something athletes, the Olympics are dominated by elite competitors in their teens and 20s. After a dozen years of competing, their careers are over. I’m grateful that after 18 years in the online business, I still have many years ahead of me. Perhaps I’m a late bloomer, but I feel like it’s really only in the last five years that I’ve really hit my stride and seen Matrix Group really thrive and expand.
In Business, Teams Rule!
Although there are a few relay races, the Olympics are dominated by the talents and achievements of individuals. In business, you can’t complete projects of any significant size and scope without a team effort. Take any redesign project at Matrix Group; these projects involve a project manager, an information architect, multiple designers, at least one front-end developer, at least one developer, and at least one tester. The work of one person affects every other team member and if one team members screws up, the whole project is threatened.
In Business, You Want a Lot of Winners
It’s easy to compare the world of sales with the Olympics: lots of competitors, one winner. But I would argue that the true race or competition begins once the sale has been made and implementation begins. Paradoxically, at this stage, you don’t want any losers. You want the client, the vendor, the third party partners, and the customers to all win with whatever widget, Web site or product you are building.
In Business, I Get to Win Gold Every Week
If Shawn White hadn’t won gold in the Halfpipe competition, he’d have to wait another four years for his next chance. Sure, there are other competitions, but only one Olympics every four years. Me? I heard from two prospects last week that we didn’t make the final cut. But this week, we landed a new account and heard from another prospect that we made it to the next round. More important, we get to “win gold” pretty much every week when we launch new Web sites and apps or solve problems for clients.
The Whole World Isn’t Watching
Can you even imagine doing your job while millions of people watch? Imagine how it feels to be a figure skater and take a fall in front of a crowded auditorium and a worldwide TV audience. Thank God that my team and I get to do our work (mostly) without an audience.
I love the Olympics, especially the Winter Olympics. I’m a couch potato for two weeks as I cheer for my favorites, hold my breath and hope nobody takes a spill. When the Olympics end, I’ll be happy for the winners, and glad that I get to be a winner, in my own way, in my day job.