Vail Daily column: Lessons learned from the Olympics
The Olympics end on Sunday. What a great two weeks of international competition and sportsmanship (for the most part, more on that to come). Imagine coordinating over 10,500 athletes from over 300 countries participating in over 55 different disciplines. I’ve long been a fan of the Olympic Games for all these reasons and more. It’s an amazing spectacle that offers many lessons that can be applied to business or life in general. Some lessons that I learned, or were at least reinforced in me, as the Olympics come to an end:• Sportsmanship done right: most every competitor. Kudos to all these athletes who embody the spirit of sportsmanship and the Olympic ideal.• Sportsmanship done wrong: a big thumbs down to the badminton competitors who tanked their games in order to get a better draw. Give it your all each time – don’t lose on purpose. • Sportsmanship done wrong, part two: To the British cyclist who crashed on purpose when he got off to a bad start and then won the race upon restart. This teaches that even if something is legal, it’s not necessarily ethical.• Planning: If you find that business planning and coordination starts to wear on you, consider the planning involved with coordinating over 10,500 athletes over a two-plus week window on top of the host city logistics planned over many years leading up to the event. • Inspiration: Oscar Pistorius. Next time you (or someone in your office) says, “I can’t,” just say Oscar Pistorius. A double amputee that competed in the Olympics should provide everyone with a bit of inspiration to avoid the “I can’t” attitude.• Collaboration and teamwork: From synchronized diving to cycling to gymnastics to the track/swimming relays, the power of collaboration and teamwork show that you can’t always do it on your own. • Autonomy and internal motivation: While teamwork and collaboration power numerous events, autonomy is important for many others. Look no further than U.S. cyclist Evelyn Stevens, who started cycling as a way to de-stress from her job as an investment banker and shortly after quit her job to focus on cycling.• Responsibility: McKayla Maroney was a huge favorite in her gymnastics event, yet fell and came up with silver instead of the anticipated gold. She showed remarkable maturity by accepting responsibility, saying afterwards: “You can’t always be perfect. I didn’t deserve to win gold if I landed on my butt.”• Think before you tweet: Social media is (obviously) a huge part of today’s world, and two athletes learned this the hard way by getting kicked off their respective teams for sending offensive tweets. And I doubt Hope Solo earned many fans by engaging in a war-of-words on Twitter with a former Olympian.• Don’t underestimate youthful innocence: Look no further than Colorado’s own Missy Franklin for valuable lessons in the power of youth. Consider this next time you are hiring and have a younger employee who might not have the “experience” of another candidate – hard work and attitude don’t have age limits.• Don’t underestimate the effects of great coaching: ESPN reported that just a year ago, gold medalist Gabby Douglas was “a mess”. She left home to train full time with her coaches and this hard work paid off with gold.• The Internet “is a thing”: NBC spent billions to broadcast the Olympics. Not to pour salt on their wounds, but the Internet allowed people to know the results well in advance of the primetime airings – and even NBC’s news promotions would show the results of the events scheduled to be broadcast minutes later. Hopefully they’ll find a way to improve (and recognize this) for future Games.I still don’t quite grasp what the Opening Ceremonies was all about, but that doesn’t take away from the spectacle that is the Olympic Games and the lesson learned from the athletes, the International Olympic Committee, the host city and everything else that goes into producing this event.Bring on Sochi 2014, Rio 2016 (and the 2015 World Alpine Ski Championships in our own backyard) to help us learn new lessons that we can apply to our daily business operations.The Vail Valley Partnership is a regional leader in sustaining & enhancing the Vail Valley as a tourism destination and as a place to do business by contributing to the identity and economic well-being of the Eagle River Valley. Learn more about us at VailValleyPartnership.comChris Romer is executive director of the Vail Valley Partnership.