Eight years ago, I wrote a blog post entitled “The 4 P’s of Olympic Gold”. The article was inspired by Shaun White’s amazing Gold medal performance at the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver. Anybody who watched the Men’s Halfpipe competition that year though knows that White didn’t just deliver one Gold-medal run…
The results were clear before White even started his second and final run. He was still standing on the platform overlooking the crowd when he learned he already won Olympic Gold. In that moment though, he didn’t stop and do the victory dance. He didn’t take the easy way down the pipe with his board in hand. After what seemed like a long debate with his coaches about what to do, he instead looked down to his fans and did what a true Gold medalist would do. He delivered an even better performance than his earlier run, stuck his final landing, and beat himself for the Gold medal – again!
As White, the first athlete ever to compete in and win both the Winter and Summer X Games in two different sports, prepares for his fourth Winter Olympics next week, I’m reminded of this powerful lesson about what I have come to call the 4 P’s of Olympic Gold – Practice, Patience, Persistence, and Passion. White actually had a horrible crash on a training run just a few months ago, yet he and his 62 stitches quickly rebounded with a perfect 100-point qualifying run to secure his spot as the only experienced veteran on the U.S. Olympic Men’s Snowboard team. I’m confident that he didn’t do it because he had to. It’s not like he needs any more sponsorship dollars for competing. White must have done it because of his own belief in the 4 P’s.
So what can we as senior executives and business leaders learn from this awesome display of talent and sportsmanship? I would offer the following 4 P’s also hold true for us mere mortals who don’t compete in professional competitions on the world stage. In fact, they may be even more critical now than in 2010 for anyone to achieve their strategic objectives in today’s fiercely competitive business marketplace:
- Patience – Gold medal performances don’t just happen overnight. Be patient and remain focused on your end goal. Do you want to be Vice President of your business unit? Are you trying to grow your company to $100 million? It might not happen on your timetable, but your time is more likely to come if you are patient and stay the course.
- Persistence – As a natural extension to #1, success will likely require your unwavering and relentless commitment over an extended period of time. Quitters might give up when they experience what they perceive to be brick walls. Gold medal winners, however, don’t give up because they know those minor set backs are merely speed bumps to be expected along the way.
- Practice – Practice, practice, practice… Malcom Gladwell says it takes us 10,000 hours to master our crafts. I can’t even imagine how many hours Shaun White and his fellow Olympiads dedicate to their sports before ever competing in a medal-winning moment. Olympic Gold comes from taking risks, reaching beyond your comfort zone, and practicing new skills and techniques over time.
- Passion – And finally, passion! As Jim Collins writes, you are far more likely to achieve your strategic intentions if you are passionate about them. Passion alone without the first 3 P’s doesn’t guarantee that you can achieve anything you set your mind to. Without it though, it’s safe to say you will probably be tempted to throw in the towel well before you achieve your strategic objectives.
Shaun White is just one of many living examples of exactly what every senior executive and business leader should be focused on creating in their organizations. By enacting these Four P’s of Executive Gold, any leader can create a powerful environment for inspiring others to greatness. More than that, they can successfully groom the next generation of Gold Medalists in their own organizations.
Give us a call at 310.589.4610 or email us if you have any questions about how to achieve your own gold medal. You can also visit the Executive Coaching page of our website to see how we coach our clients to implement new leadership practices and produce better results with their teams.
Whatever you do, don’t try to do it alone. Even Shaun White has a coach!