Friday, July 27, 2012 7:30pm EST. The 2012 London Olympics will commence.
And. I. Am. PUMPED!
Friday night, I have plans to stay in, sing the Olympic Anthem and Fanfare (which I’m listening to as I write this), learn the new song, admire the opening ceremony, and see how many itty bitty countries I’ve heard of as each country team parades into the stadium. I love the traditions, the pride of each team, and the glowing smiles of every athlete soaking up the grandeur and magnificence surrounding them.
But most of all, I love the spirit. No doubt athletes are rip-roaring with ferocious drive (as with any competition). But what is unique to the Olympics is the core of noble sportsmanship that supersedes all other aspects of the Games. There’s so much focus on and pride around the possibility of achievement—as an individual and as a team—that there’s no room for negativity or distraction.
And seeing all this spirit alive and well for 17 days every two years always makes me wonder: What if life were more like the Olympics?
We’d all be in fantastic shape that’s for sure. But here are some things that come to mind.
Five things nonprofits can learn from the Olympic Games:
- Strike a balance between collaborating through teamwork and maximizing individual efficiency. I’m a team player, and I like working with other people to share ideas and feedback, but that doesn’t mean my best performance always comes from working on a team. Some events are synchronized, others are not.
- Give every player clear goals, and ways to see their connection to your organization’s mission. In the Olympics, this is simple: rock your event and rack up some medals for your country. In nonprofits it can be a little trickier. But when people know, really know what they are working for, each person goes for the gold because they understand their role and feel accountable for the team’s success.
- Encourage followers and supporters to get their heads in the game, so that they can be proud to take part in your success. People rally behind the teams they feel a sense of ownership towards. And commitment to a cause can be likened to feelings of national pride. Connect them to the work and communicate your successes so they can celebrate them!
- Develop and strengthen the skills of your team players with coaches and mentors. Investing in your talent is one of the smartest things you can do. Their development and growth is essentially an investment in your organization.
- Instill a greater sense of integrity in your work. The emphasis on excellence and commitment to athleticism over victory and triumph is, in my opinion, the most powerful part of the Olympic spirit. And in the workplace, it begins with modeling behaviors that exhibit a dedication to execute with excellence rather than doing the bare minimum.
How are you inspired by the Olympic Games?