I hope you’ve been watching the Olympics these last few days. If not, it’s worth the time to watch the best athletes in the world perform. Each event is packed with great lessons on personal leadership as well as a view of what people can accomplish who are at the top of their game. Here are ten lessons that have jumped out at me.

DESIRE: No one can ever reach the Olympic competition without a strong desire to be there. Desire is the fuel that drives people to perform at their best, a strong pre-requisite for participation at these games. What about you? Look into each facet of your life—spiritual, family, career, social, growth, recreational—and ask yourself these questions about each area: What is your greatest desire I have in this area of my life? Am I working on the achievement of that desire or am I stuck in neutral?

DETERMINATION: While a bit different than desire, being determined means you are not willing to quit until your reach success. Is there an Olympian that does not possess determination? The answer is clearly “No.” Determination enables athletes to practice long hours, to work on their imperfections, and to increase their performance. What about you? How determined are you to rid yourself of the problems creating stress and discomfort in your life? The weaknesses in your professional responsibilities? To determined people, failure is never an option.

DISCIPLINE: Athletes who reach the top of their game do so by disciplining themselves when they’d rather be doing something else. Michael Phelps, perhaps the greatest Olympian of all times, has an incredibly disciplined regiment and routine that has made him a champion. He has postponed immediate pleasures youngsters his age often engage in to achieve his dream of dominance in swimming. It’s that discipline that makes him the all-time gold medal winner in Olympic history. What about you? Can you discipline yourself well enough to keep your dreams alive? Do you understand that a temporary use of discipline can lead to very successful long-term achievements?

BELIEF: Winners believe in themselves. They are driven by their vision of victory. They believe in their potential to achieve and are willing to sacrifice and discipline themselves in order to make their vision a reality. Look at the eyes of the competitors. They are quite revealing. What about you? Do you believe in your abilities to become one of the best in your chosen profession? Do you believe you are a winner or do you let the weight of negativity hold you back? If someone looks into your eyes, would they see the eyes of a champion who believes in themselves or a person filled with doubt about their abilities?

COMMITMENT: To become a champion requires an unwavering commitment to a goal or outcome. One must be able to detach themselves from distractions and stay on the path drawn to reach a successful end. There is no doubt Olympic participants understand the word commitment. What about you? What commitments have you made and did you stay with the program until you were successful? What commitment needs to be made right now in order to bring more success into your life?

TEAM PLAYERS: Watching the basketball, volleyball, gymnastic and swimming teams perform was a lesson in supporting your team members. Michael Phelps was more excited watching his team members succeed then he was when he broke world records. The gymnasts were anxious and supportive of their team members no matter if their performance had a few flaws. Disappointments were evident but support never wavered. They were a team. What about you? Do you support members of your work team? Are you an encourager when team members fall short of the goal? Are you happy for a team member who succeeds beyond your level of success? Are you a team player?

UNSELFISHNESS: This is another aspect of teamwork. Great team members are not putting their own personal success ahead of the success of the team. Basketball players share a pass and allow another player to score. They have placed the team ahead of themselves. And, with every player a multi-millionaire and star in their own right, it’s gratifying to sense the pride and willingness to put team success ahead of their own individual performance. It’s all about getting that gold medal for the team. What about you? Can you share the success with others who deserve some credit or do you need all the glory and credit? What are areas in your life where you can display more unselfishness?

FOCUS: Being able to focus is one of the three components comprising every successful enterprise. And, what competitor in the Olympics is not focused? You can sense the concentration they go through before starting their events. They are ready because they have learned how to focus their energy and mind on every aspect of their athletic responsibilities. What about you? Are you laser-beam focused on your career objectives or have you diffused your energy so much that great achievement is impossible? Where would improved focus bring a big payoff for you?

VISION: Champions see themselves victorious before they start their event. They have practiced the “feeling” of being a winner every day they trained. They see themselves going through the precise motions that will give them the slightest edge over their competitors. What about you? Do you have a vision for your life? Can you “feel” yourself possessing the type of success you desire?

LOVE OF COUNTRY: This for me is one of the more important aspects of the Olympics—pride in one’s nation. We sense it with every country. When a winner hears their national anthem played in their honor that has to be one of the most memorable moments they will ever experience. And, if you are an American, the hair on your arm should raise when you hear the Star Spangled Banner played in honor of an Olympic champion. What about you? Do you display a sense of pride for the USA when someone “talks down” our country? What do you do to bring honor and pride to America?

Closing Thoughts

When the Olympics are over, the world will elevate the winners to a “hero” status. In America, we will see commercials with many of the champions. These individuals have worked, sacrificed, and gone through many painful experiences to reach the pinnacle in their particular sport. But putting things in perspective, everyone in the Olympics could not be the champion. Unfortunately, that position is reserved for a select few. However, I hope you see that everyone that made it into the Olympic competition is a winner. They had to beat many competitors to enter this elite group of athletes. While everyone will not come home with a medal, everyone in China is a winner. And that is what makes athletic competition great.

Author's Bio: 

Billy Arcement, MEd.,—The Leadership Strategist, is a professional speaker, author, facilitator and executive coach. He authored the book, Searching For Success and co-authored, Journeying on Holy Ground—Christian Strategies to Develop Your Professional and Personal Life. Learn more about his services at www.SearchingForSuccess.com ©2008