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Lessons advisers can learn from Olympians

You don't have to be an elite athlete to have the right stuff

Feb 7, 2014 @ 2:05 pm

By Jennifer Geoghegan

I'm an avid sports fan, and I enjoy playing sports myself and watching live events. But the Olympics are different and I find myself recording and watching events that I know nothing about and thoroughly enjoying each and every athlete's story along the way. Since I spend so much time with financial advisers who are looking to build their practices, many of whom are current or former athletes, I have started thinking about the traits many of them share with Olympians.

So here are the top five traits and practices that high-performing advisers can borrow from Olympians:

1. They have a passion for what they do: Olympians don't just like what they do; they absolutely love their sport. They revel in the journey from the time they are quite young; enjoying every practice and every competition along the way. It's not just about standing on the podium, although you can see the joy on their faces when they get there.

2. They have a big dream, they set goals and they track their progress: Many laugh that even as young children, they just knew they wanted to become an Olympian and they weren't afraid to tell others about their big dreams. In addition to articulating that big dream, they also established clear goals all along the way and tracked their successes and failures so they could keep moving forward with purpose.

3. They have disciplined routines, yet regularly try new things: They learn what works and they stick to it. When Olympians describe what they eat or how they train, it might sound somewhat boring to others, as there is so much repetition. But if you listen closely, you will also hear that they are not adverse to new training methods or technologies, and are always experimenting to discover what might help give them an extra edge.

4. They have strong support: Soon after the athlete crosses the finish line, you can see him or her searching for coaches and family members with whom to share the moment. Inevitably, when talking about keys to their success, Olympians point to great coaches, and supportive family and friends, who help motivate and challenge them day in and day out.

5. They don't let setbacks derail them: Most world-class athletes can point to a moment or two when they lost a big competition or got injured and other people thought they just couldn't make it back. However, Olympians don't wallow in self-pity. They reflect back on their dreams, define new goals, and go back to tracking progress, one day at a time.

While I meet many advisers who share a similar passion for their work as Olympians do for their sport, there are some who are missing some of those other key ingredients. But it's not to say that they can't get there. With the right support system, they, too, can dream big, set goals and move toward them each and every day. With that focused effort, they too can find themselves on a podium.

Jennifer Geoghegan is elite advisor coach and vice president for marketing at Focus Financial Partners.

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