What Entrepreneurs Can Learn from the Olympics


Up there ^ ... That's Monty, our little Winter Olympian wannabe. Unfortunately, he's not very aerodynamic and his coordination isn't so great, so I don't think he really has a chance (but don't tell him I said that).

Each night for the past week or so, after dinner, Josh and I settle in on the couch, turn on NBC, and watch with anticipation as snowboarders, bobsledders, skiers, and skaters leave everything they have out on the snow and ice to try to win a coveted gold medal. Hearing these athlete's stories and seeing those darned TD Ameritrade rewind commercials got me thinking... why do we, as entrepreneurs and creatives, hold ourselves to a different standard than these athletes?

You see, it's really not all that different. We both have a passion, something deep within driving us, a yearning for success, but the difference, for most of us, is the time we put into it. These athletes spend years, even decades, honing their skills to try and become the best in their field. Gold medalists Meryl Davis and Charlie White have been ice dancing together for 17 years, snowboardcross bronze medalist Alex Diebold started on the slopes over 20 years ago at the age of four, and 36-year old alpine skier Bode Miller began training for his ski career at 13. These people have fully devoted most of their lives to their craft, and even they have experienced failure along the way.

But entrepreneurs... creatives... I think we expect success to happen virtually overnight. Even when we know it's not realistic at such an early stage in our careers, we want the perfect clients, a big fat paycheck, and work that would make Annie Liebovitz or Steve Jobs or whoever your industry idol may be sob at the beauty of it all, and when that doesn't happen right away, we get frustrated, disappointed, and downright over it. The real problem though isn't our market or our equipment or any other excuse we create for ourselves... it's that we expect perfection, instant gratification, and the whole kit and caboodle when we haven't put in the time. The truth is becoming great, and arguably more important - sustaining such greatness, takes lots of time, consistency, effort, and drive. It's an ongoing process of learning and making mistakes, figuring out who you are as a photographer/writer/inventor/etc., and doing it all over again a million times.

Do me a favor: Look back at your early work (as painful as it may be... whew... thank goodness for improved camera skills) and see how far you've come. Be proud of yourself and keep on trying. Remember, Rome wasn't built in a day, and your business won't be either, but if you stick with it and work hard, one day, it just might be what you've always dreamed of.

And just in case that wasn't enough of a pep talk, my friends, watch this video by Ira Glass: