I’m sitting here watching the high test practice session at my club, and it dawned on me that, believe it or not, there are parallels between what it takes to be successful at this particular level of figure skating and what it takes to be successful in business.
1. Discipline. It should go without saying that a sport like figure skating takes tremendous discipline. The kids that excel in this sport at a high level sacrifice a lot of the things that most teenagers take for granted in out society, such as sleeping in, having all the time in the world to do their homework, and being able to screw off pretty much whenever they want. The same goes for a successful entrepreneur. Success, at it’s core, involves doing the things that other people simply won’t do, such as working longer hours when necessary, and spending money on marketing, sales training, and testing and tracking, rather than lattes and trips to Vegas.
2. Vision. There isn’t a one of these kids that would be out here spending this much time and effort on skating, and their parents spending the insane cash required, if there wasn’t some vision attached to doing it. Even if that vision is just for the personal accomplishment that comes inherent in the sport, there’s still a vision. Of course, there are also some of these kids that want to be the next Michelle Kwan or Scott Hamilton. It’s the same thing in business — you need a vision. Why are you doing what you’re doing? Is it to build something to pass on to your kids? Is it to retire young and rich and live the good life? Is it to snub your high school classmates that said you couldn’t do it? Regardless of your WHY, you really need to have one. Otherwise, what’s the point?
3. An understanding that the basics are fundamental. The crowds love the big jumps, the crazy lifts, fast, tight spins, and physics defying death spirals. But more than anything, the skating fundamentals are what win and lose championships (and Olympic medals). Solid edges, precise footwork, proper takeoff and landing positions, these are what earn points, particularly under the IJS. It’s the same thing in business: Your fundamentals need to be strong. Things like having a strong and effectgive marketing plan, holding that marketing ruthlessly accountable for results, measuring and improving employee effectiveness, knowing what’s making you money and what’s losing money, etc. That super cool Flash web site might make you think you’re doing the right things, but it’s useless if everybody clicks off it before it loads. The prettiest business cards in the world don’t mean a damn thing if you aren’t exchanging them for other people’s business cards so that you can add people to your contact list. Heck, that contact list is worthless if you’re not using it to maintain regular communication with your target audience.
These are just three of what are probably hundreds of things I could come up with if I sat here long enough. However, this session is over, and hockey is about to start. And there’s a saying in figure skating: If it were easy, it’d be called hockey. If business were easy, it’d be called a job.
Moving to the red rink….