The Olympics – A Guideline to Continuous Learning
With the Olympics coming to a close and the closing ceremony occurring this Sunday. One cannot help but reflect back on these past few weeks, the incredible athletes and what they have accomplished. Years and years of training have culminated in either a medal for some of these participants or the drive to train even harder for one more chance at glory in the Tokyo Olympics of 2020. Which leaves the typical viewer with a lot of questions. Questions such as, what inspires these national representatives to work towards this ultimate goal? How could I train at this stage in my life to do what they are doing?
What we as the viewer see is only a fledgling look into the world of these competitors, the tip of the iceberg if you will. Sure there are special broadcasts that detail typical training regimens for certain prolific athletes, and I for one am quite interested in attempting to eat the 2008 diet of Michael Phelps, who famously proclaimed he was consuming 12,000 calories a day. However, I am sure that sounds a little more glorious than the actual act would be. The point being that much like in the Training and Development Industry, there is a clear and interesting storyline going on under the surface. That many outsiders will never see, and being highlighted in these efforts is the incredible underlying process of continuous learning. What is fast today, may not be the fastest tomorrow. Records are only established to be broken, and that thought process is wholly responsible for why we as individuals have to keep working every day in order to improve ourselves, our day to day operations and become better than the department that existed before us.
The following steps occur in the corporate world much like that have had to occur in each one of these Olympians’ lives. These are also the foundation for establishing an unbeatable culture of Continuous Learning:
Establish a Career Path
For some of these competitors, the life of athletics was chosen for them before they could even walk. Parents drilled into their minds that they were going to be the right build for these sports or that they were going to have the skill sets required to compete at a very high level. But, in most cases, the drive into becoming an Olympic level athlete solely rests on the shoulders of the athlete themselves. Olympians much like business professionals have to decide what the appropriate path for them is going to be. Once the sport is chosen, or the profession is locked in, the goal becomes the question of how can I do this better, faster, and more accurately than anyone else who has either played this sport or held this position before me? As heads of Training and Development programs, we need to be aware of this process. This is how our cohorts have gotten to where they are now, and why they are willing to become a better element within the workforce over time.
Present the Right Tools
In sports much like in real life, ourselves as individuals can only achieve so much. If you’re a swimmer, you need a pool to swim in. If you’re a basketball player, you need a basketball, a hoop, and some competition. In the business world, you don’t know what you don’t know. It is best to evaluate the role you will be responsible for, and identify what components are needed for you, in particular, to go forward. As a marketing person, I would be lost without my analytics platforms, my google (I do consider myself an Olympic level Googler), my Adobe Creative Suite, and a variety of other tools that are specific to me within this organization. Document these, know that a culture of continuous learning is dependent in major part on the environment that our workforce is placed into.
Establish a Clear Process
This is what my training course will look like if I want to be prepared for this upcoming competition. In order to achieve certain tasks in our business lives, we need to figure some things out. In particular, the best process to get us from point A to point B. Much like Track and Field superstars who spend hours agonizing over their stride length and form, we too have drivers that determine our abilities in the office place. Once you have established a clear process and trained the individuals within the department on how to achieve satisfactory results, the task is not over. There will also be someone out there who can do it faster, why not take this opportunity to establish clear methods in which the personnel can work together to improve this process as a whole, and promote positive growth within the organization.
Reinforce to Correct Mindset
“I can do this, I can wear one of those medals around my neck.” Much like in the Olympics, people need to have clear goals established for themselves. This can be done via a variety of methods, such as monetary incentives, badging, or even good old-fashioned approval from people in supervisory positions. Olympians just like members of the workforce need to determine what works for themselves and then find out what they need to focus on the task at hand. Most people that start out on the competitive sports track are met with adversity along the way. Personally, in my young sporting career I was awarded an immense amount of opportunities, and along the way I need to figure out how to overcome injuries, teammates vying for the same position I was, and adversaries who were just a little bit better than myself on the field.
Develop a Strategy
With my clear process for becoming better, I’ll develop milestones to measure my effectiveness over time. I want to be this fast by this upcoming competition, I want my shot accuracy to be 10 percentage points higher by this point in time 6 months from now. Here is the roadmap for how I will achieve these goals. The same principal applies in the workplace. I want a set number of people to read this blog today, and I want so much more people to read this blog tomorrow. In order to reach all of you wonderful people, I need to make sure I do not forego developing an effective strategy.
Execution, Execution, Execution!
Put in the work with all these aforementioned items in mind. This is where we put the whole thing together, and we actually learn at an Olympic level. Once you have a strategy in place surrounding a series of processes and all the tools needed for your disposal, and the will to accomplish the very goal you have in mind. There are very few things in your life that can stop you. This is an important lesson for members of the Training and Development community. As these Olympians have so thoughtfully set a clear method to not only improve our day to day learning but have inspired us to want to achieve the ultimate goal. If these individuals can train their entire lives for an event that only take 10 seconds to complete, we can put in the work to be better within our positions.
Thank you for joining me in this evaluation on the training Olympians undergo, and their “real life” linkage to the concept of continuous learning. I hope you all have thoroughly enjoyed the games at hand. Please continue to follow Gyrus Systems’ as we further investigate relevant topics in the field, current events, and the future of our industry.