How to be an Olympic-level entrepreneur

Later this week, the 2012 Summer Olympics will begin with an opening ceremony. Then, we’ll watch as athletes from around the world compete over two weeks in competitions like wrestling and track and BMX cycling and badminton. (As a Canadian, I’m pleased to see hockey in there, although I’m not sure why it’s included as a summer Olympic sport).

As we get ready for these events, I am reminded of what it takes for an Olympic-level athlete to earn the right to compete in the games: This isn’t a competition among weekend hobbyists or junior-level enthusiasts. The winner of the gold medal in each category can proudly call themselves the very best in the world. THAT’s an achievement!

And just like there are different levels of athletes, there are different levels of entrepreneurs — from the wannabes who sit on the couch and dream to the hard-working amateurs who grind it out everyday to the top-level masters who train relentlessly and can truly be called the best in the world.

During the 2010 Olympics, I created a list of 31 qualities that make up an Olympic-style entrepreneur and I’m listing them below. If you’re an entrepreneur, what level are you playing at right now? What level do you aspire to be? And what are your plans to get there?

To be an Olympic-level entrepreneur…

  1. you need to remember that there is a right time for training, parading, competing, and reveling.
  2. you need to be ready to leverage your success.
  3. you need to trust your teammates to perform at the expected level.
  4. you need to pick yourself up after failure.
  5. you need to sign up for the whole package.
  6. you need to work at a higher energy level.
  7. you need to be willing to fail.
  8. you need to be willing to go where you need to go.
  9. you need to ignore the competition.
  10. you need to slow down only after you’ve crossed the finish line.
  11. you need to control as many factors as you can.
  12. you need to recognize that things will be different after… then prepare for it.
  13. all of your life centers around this moment.
  14. you need to play fair to win.
  15. you need to love what you do.
  16. you need to overcome obstacles and use them to grow stronger.
  17. you need to have the right gear.
  18. you need to understand and embrace the extreme risk/reward relationship.
  19. you need to go when the starter pistol fires.
  20. you need to be single-minded while competing.
  21. you need to decide to be an Olympic-level entrepreneur.
  22. you need to find your optimal competition zone.
  23. you need to always be training.
  24. you need to make improvements, however small.
  25. you need to make sacrifices.
  26. you need to be part of a team.
  27. you need to know your competition. Really well.
  28. you need to climb the proficiency ladder.
  29. you need to understand and accelerate your processes.
  30. you need to be confident in your delivery.
  31. you need to master one thing.

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