What Marketers can learn from an Olympic speed skater

While watching the Winter Olympics, I’m baffled by how skilled and talented athletes are. Their accomplishments seem 10 times more special compared to mine. Recently, I realize that Olympic athletes and non-athletes look alike: We all have goals in mind, we all make efforts to achieve them, and many of us get caught up in our need to achieve.

So…What can we learn from Olympic athletes? Aim for that Olympic medal, but do enjoy the Olympic experience too.

An eye-opening interview

Esmee Visser is a Dutch speedskating athlete. During the Pyeongchang Olympics in 2018, she surprised. Visser beat favourites like Martina Sablikova and won the 5000m speedskating gold medal.  

4 years later, Esmee Visser didn’t even qualify for the Winter Olympics. After winning her gold medal in 2018, she faced both physical and mental struggles. The mental struggles held her back more than physical issues did.

This week, Visser was interviewed by the Dutch national television. During the interview, she said that it took her years to truly enjoy the gold medal. After winning the 5000 meter speed skating race, she was looking for more and better. And during her attempt to do so, she never looked back and cherished all the things she had already accomplished.

Now, the 26-year old speed skater realizes that she should enjoy the process and cherish her past accomplishments more, instead of being so focused on her goals. And possibly, that’s the spirit every person should have.

What we can learn from Olympic athletes

Most athletes have one goal: win the competition. We, as non-athletes have this goal too. Many of us want to succeed in work and life. And some of us might be a bit too perfectionistic. We kick ourselves for all the things that went wrong and everything we didn’t accomplish. It’s hard for us to consider mistakes as part of the learning process. We also forget to look back at all our successes. Sometimes, it feels like the moment to enjoy things is overshadowed by the need to accomplish.

The Olympic experience is more than just a gold medal

It’s difficult to enjoy things in life when you are so focussed on accomplishing one goal. I definitely experienced that during my job hunt. Now, while looking back at the past couple of months, I realized that I have done far more things than just getting a new job: I started a newsletter, connected with hundreds of Marketers worldwide, learned a lot, and wrote 60+ articles in 2021.

I’ve achieved my gold medal: I’ve got a job. Getting there was a struggle at times. And during my hunt for that gold medal, I forgot to enjoy the ‘Olympic experience:’ the joy of doing freelance work, attending seminars, writing articles, and brainstorming with other marketers. All things that have helped me become a more skilled, connected and knowledge person.

I definitely could’ve enjoyed the process and cherished my accomplishments more.

How to enjoy the process and cherish your accomplishments

Celebrating your wins and enjoying the process is difficult when you’re so focused on achieving a difficult long-term goal. That’s why you should find ways to remind yourself of your wins and accomplishments

Do a weekly or monthly performance review for yourself:

If you are an employee at a company, you’ll likely have a yearly performance review. During this review, you look back at your accomplishments, and your manager will tell you your strengths, successes and areas for improvement.

But what if you create a weekly or monthly performance review for yourself? Every Sunday — or every last day of the month — sit down and write about yourself. Write down the things you have accomplished, especially the most difficult hurdles you’ve taken. Try to reframe all your ‘failures’ into insightful mistakes. What went wrong, and how does this mistake help you to get better next time? Don’t forget: Everyone makes mistakes — it’s part of growth.

This was an excellent idea coined by Twitter Friend Sonia Baschez in Brianne’s Marketing Book Club. Click on the link below listen to the entire discussion.

Focus on your ta-das

We all have to-do lists and deadlines. But during a busy work week, we do so much more than we have intended to do. We often forget these additional tasks, because they weren’t on our to-do list.

So be sure to write down these things too. If, one day, you were able to draft an extra blog article, write that down. If you’ve helped out your colleague, write it down. Be sure to tick off your to-do list, but also add extra checkmarks for all the extra you’ve done.

Like I once heard in Meg Fenn’s Twitter Space: Don’t judge yourself for the things you haven’t done, but be grateful for everything you have done.

Write down the compliments you get from others

More often than not, your friends, family, colleagues and peers will compliment and congratulate you for your accomplishments. But quite often, we forget their compliments quickly because we’re so focused on achieving one single goal.

What you could do, is write down the compliments you get from others — especially when you’re dealing with imposter syndrome. Writing down these compliments (and later on reading them) helps you remind yourself of your wins. And your wins aren’t made up: You’ve got social evidence. Other people recognized the great things you have done.

Don’t let that one single goal dominate your life

Winning the gold medal is great. But there are so many other things in life to enjoy. So focus on the things you want to accomplish, but don’t get upset if you’re failing to accomplish them. Next to achieving your goals, take breaks, enjoy your hobbies, and spend time with friends and family.  

Keep in mind the following

Whether you’re an Olympic athlete, a Marketer, a student, or somebody else….Keep in mind the following: The goal is to get an Olympic medal, but it’s the Olympic Village, the people, the entourage, your wins and your lessons that make the process so satisfying.