Can you create Olympic moments?

The Winter Olympics have started and I’m always interested to watch the athletes that are stepping on to the world stage to compete.  I’m amazed at their abilities and often find myself watching on and cheering loudly at the tv.

The interesting thing that I keep coming back to is, what did the Olympic athletes need to do to get to this point?  They would have spent months if not years perfecting their technique, practicing their approach and learning new skills.  They would have had to have gone through moments of self doubt, frustration at plateauing at a particular level and often wondering if all the training was worth it along the way.

I’m sure that once they arrived at the Olympics and walked around the stadium during the opening ceremonies, they would have remembered why they were there.  When they come first in their heat or if they may not have won but they achieved a personal best they would have had that Olympic Moment.

It makes me think about what it is that we do at work to create these incredible Olympic Moments?  When we’re at work we go through a tremendous amount of activity and preparation.  We spend long, and sometimes, difficult hours trying new approaches and learning new things.  This often leads to a specific moment in time where we break through to a new level or achieve something that we may not have thought possible.  In business it could be achieving a new sales target or overcoming difficult conditions with a new IT system that staff were able to work around to still deliver to customers needs.

So what do we do to celebrate or create an Olympic Moment?  Quite often nothing.  We keep working away and after a while it becomes the new routine.  Leaders need to find ways to create some short term celebrations or capture those Olympic Moments for their people.  

I was working with a client recently that sold a product that required a national recall.  This took a significant effort for all of their head office staff as well as all the staff that were located around the country in numerous cities.  They were able to achieve this recall in record time, unfortunately it also completely exhausted all of their team.  In speaking with one of the Senior Leaders I was asking him if they did anything with their staff to celebrate their Olympic Moment.  He realised that he didn’t and that became a massive missed opportunity.  Many of their frontline staff were still exhausted and not feeling the support any longer.  

Start Creating Your Olympic Moments:

  1. At Work.  Look for moments or achievements that you can turn into Olympic Moments.  Given the Olympics are fresh in many people’s minds, use an Olympic theme.  This could be special awards in a number of areas to staff that achieve a new “department record” or something as simple as providing an Olympic themed breakfast or lunch that is a bit of fun (think food from different countries, think different flags that you could put around to help make it stand out)
  2. At Home.  Get your family involved in Olympic Moments.  Once again you can leverage the current Winter Olympics and look at ways to celebrate your children’s new achievements.  This could be an Olympic record in an English assignment or a Personal Best with a math test.  Turn it into a celebration.  Watch an event with the family and make (or go out for) food from the Olympic Champion’s country.  This will be something that your kids remember for years to come.

Remember not to get back on the typical treadmill of work or life.  Create Olympic Moments to recognise some of the achievements that your people or family have and make it a celebration.