What the Olympics Can Teach Us About Career Management

With the 2012 Summer Olympics in full swing, we can all learn a lot from one of the most established sporting events in history. Not only are these seasoned athletes some of the most focused players around, they also know a thing or two about climbing the ladder to career success. Through challenges and triumphs, the Olympics stand for something we can all follow: if you work hard enough, you really can win it all.

I’ve been inspired by this year’s London Olympics, and in a big way.  Even though everyone can’t swim like Michael Phelps, we can gauge some lessons from him and the games themselves. Here’s what the Olympics can teach us about managing our careers and going for the gold:

Building & Maintaing a Personal Brand

Olympians have to work tirelessly their whole lives in order to achieve success. They also have to work just as hard to maintain their success and hold on to positive perceptions.

It works the same for average Joe’s, too. If professionals don’t manage their personal and professional brands, they’ll have a hard time moving up the ladder, getting new jobs, or even proving that they are worth it to an organization. A positive brand puts you in the running for success. Whether it’s being engaged in your organizational direction, going above and beyond team objectives and overall initiatives, communicating where you have had success and where you are struggling, or asking for resources and feedback, these all have an impact on your brand. How you work with others and how your work impacts the organization matters, too. And of course, working hard to maintain your established brand is vital as well.  Building a personal brand take time, focus, and effort.

Learn from Olympic & Career Challenges

Lots of Olympians faced challenges in their lives. Hurdler Lolo Jones grew up impoverished. Track athlete Gail Devers suffered from a thyroid disorder. Swimmer Natalie du Toit lost her leg in a car accident. What do these athletes have in common? They had a huge roadblock in front of them, yet climbed over it and achieved greatness.

Many of us are faced with challenges in our professional and career lives, whether it’s getting a promotion, landing a client, or trying to deal with a difficult boss. However, the important thing is to realize we can overcome these challenges if we analyze the issue, come up with a solution, and solve the problem by working hard and facing things head on. Only then can we come out successfully.

Have a Career Management Plan

In this respect, Olympians have it easy. They map out their accomplishments through the medals that they’ve won. For the rest of us, we have to do things a little differently. However, like Olympians, there’s nothing wrong with showing off your stuff, particularly if you display all your wins. Online work portfolios, endorsements and recommendations, feedback capture, and work reports and all great ways to prove that you’re a professional who’s worth watching.

Just because you’re not a full-time Olympian doesn’t mean you can’t manage your career like one. Career management is about the lifelong process of investing, training and following your Olympic or professional dreams.  Use your own personal, professional, and employee passion to drive Olympic business success.  So, maintain your brand and build what I call a career management plan.  Learn from challenges, and don’t forget to map all your accomplishments. You’ll propelling yourself to the finish line in no time at the 2012 Summer Olympics in London and beyond.

What do you think? What else can the Olympics teach us about career management?

Morgan Norman is the Co-Founder and CEO of WorkSimple, the social performance application that works the way you do — focused on Social Goals, feedback and recognition for you, your team, and company. Connect with him and WorkSimple on Facebook and @worksimple on Twitter.


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Morgan Norman is the co-founder and CEO of WorkSimple, the social performance application that works the way you do — focused on Social Goals, feedback and recognition for you, your team, and company. Connect with him and WorkSimple on Facebook and @WorkSimple on Twitter.

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