Ride On

In February, we got to spend two weeks watching the Olympics. It was so inspiring. Watching athletes that spend their entire lives setting goals, achieving them, and then raising the bar. Working towards higher levels of competition and then making it to the Olympic stage..

I was inspired by Mikael Kingsbury’s story. He studies moguls. If he isn’t physically practicing, he is watching recordings of mogul skiing. Always learning and always improving. He set a goal to be number one and he achieved it. It was a fantastic success story. But, not all events had the same storybook tale. If you watched the Women’s Slopestyle, you know what I mean. Like Kingsbury and his competitors in the Men’s Moguls, the Women’s Slopestyle was full of athletes who have trained for years to be the best in their sport. Athletes who had to deal with elements beyond their control.

At the event, the top snowboarding athletes in the world stood at the top of the run, and wondered – how is the wind going to affect my run? There was much write up in the news about how the gusting and unpredictable winds were terrifying and dangerous. The wind created a lottery system where some riders were able to make their jumps, while others had to forego jumps in favour of their personal safety. This was after the day of qualifying had been cancelled due to high winds. How bad was it? Four-out-of-five of the best snowboarders in the world crashed on their runs.

Unfortunately, the best training and planning cannot always overcome outside elements. Sometimes the conditions beat you up. And in your business, it can happen the same way. Our best laid business plans can be affected by external economics and market adjustments, consumer fickleness, a bad social media review, a fall-through of a sale you thought was certain, a partnership gone wrong, unexpected staffing change, or personal life challenge to name a few. They are unknown and all your training and work will be important, but just as the snowboarders – you can be thrown for a loop.

Make sure your business is as resilient as those snowboarding women. The comments after the event acknowledged and accepted if for what it was. No one is happy about it, but no one is crying foul either. And we can bet they will all regroup and compete another day. When your business hits an unexpected gust of wind, take a few pointers from these inspiring competitors to continue on.

Adjust in the moment.
As these athletes did, try. For them it was the Olympics, they couldn’t not ride. In the moment, they relied on their training to make split second decisions. For some it was adjusting mid-air while for others it was choosing to skip a jump all together. Each doing their best while minimizing damage (avoiding injury). Each being strategic in jump selection rather than going for their biggest tricks. You can do the same in your business. Take note of what your experience has taught you. Watch for signals pointing you to your best options. Follow your plans, but know when you need to make changes for the safety of your business.

Accept it.
The athletes acknowledge that weather conditions are part of their sport and that it is out of their control. This is not to say they were happy about the decision of the event organizers to go ahead with the event. But they also did not take on a personal weight because of it. In your business do the same. We hear it often, do not worry about the things you cannot control. Definitely an easier said than done mantra. Like the athletes, focus on your skills and abilities, the things you can influence, identify your fears and move forward.

Look forward.
Finally, look forward. There will be more competitions ahead for the women of Slopestyle. They will compete again on another stage. And while the Olympic experience may not be what they had hoped, it will not be the moment that defines their career. Don’t let external forces define your business story. Learn from those forces and reassess your goals with the experience you have gained. Look forward with your head up ready to face new challenges.

Sport and business are tough. To excel they both take our full attention and determination. There will be times when we get knocked down from forces beyond our control. I encourage you to remember the Olympic women of slopestyle. Be inspired and ride on.