The Olympics are still taking place this week in Canada. Even though I didn’t like how the Olympic Committee treated Chicago, I must admit that the Winter sports have been incredible and exciting to watch.

More so than the death defying stunts I’m seeing, or, the opening ceremonies, which is always great, I love the Olympics because they are inspiring and epitomize human beings at their best. They serve as a great example of the lessons in fortitude that are required to make our dreams a reality and the payoffs that happen when we invest and believe in ourselves. While many of us won’t be Olympic athletes, the truth is many of us can be champions in many other areas of life if we simply learn and internalize the lessons exhibited by many Olympic athletes:

Lesson #1 –Self Discipline.
Say what you like about Olympic athletes, but you can’t dispute they are the most disciplined group of people we may ever know. They practice for hours and they play despite injury, sickness, and fatigue. They never stop and they never give up. They learned a long time ago that winners never quit and quitters never win. With anything you want to achieve, self discipline is key because you will encounter bad days, sick days and days when you’re just exhausted but you have to be disciplined enough to keep moving.

Lesson#2- Persistence
Olympic athletes learned something a long time ago that must of us have a hard time dealing with: failure. They recognize that failure is part of the learning curve and that they will fail and they will lose. But they never allow it to break their spirits, their hopes or their dreams. No, they keep learning and growing and keep pushing until they succeed.

Lesson #3-Sacrifice & Hard Work
Who doubts that Olympians make enormous sacrifices? While the rest of us are sleeping, going out to dinner with friends and family, traveling and living a normal life, they are doing anything but that. They practice from dawn to dusk and they spend the majority of their day training. It’s more than most of us could handle or deal with and while I’m not advocating spending every waking moment pursuing your dreams the truth is sacrifice and hard work are required to achieve any dream. I remember watching an interview by actor Will Smith where he talked about his success. In that interview he said that he may not be the smartest person, but he was the hardest worker. He stated that if he and another person were on a treadmill that one thing he knew for sure and that was the other person was stopping first.
It is a powerful statement about sacrifice and work ethic and it is probably the greatest reason for why Olympic athletes are Olympians. Ask yourself what are you willing to sacrifice to pursue your dreams and how hard are you working for it. Do you spend an hour a day on goal attainment when you could be spending 3 or 4. This week is the week to get honest with your self.

Why is it that so many Olympic athletes return and compete in Olympics after Olympics still at the top of their game? It is because they don’t rest on their laurels or their accomplishments. They continue to improve understanding that they are always competing against themselves to improve their time, to beat their last medal count, i.e., to simply do more and be better than the last time. Think about this. How many of us have continuous improvement baked into our success strategy? Not many. Most people, and corporations for that matter, rely on our success. Once we’ve “made” it, we stop innovating and pushing forward. Ask yourself today, are you doing that? Are their areas where you can improve?

So now that you know what it takes to be a champion, what do you plan to do about it?

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