You’ve probably heard it yourself… the Olympics media individual asking the celebrated Olympic athlete this serious question, “What is your goal for this Olympics? What is it that you hope to accomplish over the next two weeks of these games?” It has gotten to the point that almost cringe because I can almost predict what answer we’ll hear, “I’m just here to have fun and stay within myself.” What? What are you possibly talking about? You are at the Olympics, the greatest assembly of athletes in the world! You are representing the very best athletes of your country! And, the best you can possibly say is that you want to have fun! On top of that, what can you possibly mean by saying you “want to stay within yourself”? You guys drive me nuts!
Certainly, not all Olympic athletics say that. Most of them are individuals that have merely worked harder at their craft than we will ever work. Many have lived meagerly and have depended upon family and friends to support them. It is heart-warming to see their success and to be recognized for their work.
However, my thoughts often go toward the practical side of things. Most of these athletes will not win a medal. Most will not make a good living continuing their training and competing with the world’s best. That is simply “just the way it is.” Many of these athletes recognize this and are merely determined to enjoy their moment in the sunshine.
But, someday, most of these athletes will be just like the rest of the workforce… looking for a job. When the day comes that you are the hiring manager and one of these “I’m just here to have fun and stay within myself” resumes lands on your desk, don’t hire that person! I’m not kidding! Though we’d like to think that work can be fun, that is not necessarily our purpose. We need to make every hire count. We can’t afford to waste an important employee hire on someone that has no real focus in life (or, at best, someone that is disingenuous about their answer).
The Olympian that I would rather hire has a completely different motivation and focus. I would rather hire an individual that:
- Is competitive and strives to win at life, not merely participate – The most successful individuals and companies are those that are in it to win. One of the best attributes of athletes is that they are driven by competition. That is the individual I want on my team… one that is not satisfied with mediocracy. Someone once said, “Don’t confuse activity with results.” We need individuals on our teams that understand this and that will raise the competitive level of everyone on the team.
- Strives to be the best in their field or, at the very least, be the best that they can be – Another great attribute of top-performing athletes is their desire to be the very best or to perform at their own full potential. They are not satisfied with their time or distance or result if they know it should have been better. This is the individual that will help drive your unit to higher and higher results.
- Seeks to improve, learn, and grow – I am always fascinated by the Olympics because every time, there is at least one athlete that wins a medal that no one gave any hope for winning prior to the event. I also enjoy seeing the excitement of athletes that, despite not winning, have achieved a personal best result. These are the individuals that rise to the occasion and exceed all expectations, except, perhaps, their own. These are the individuals we should seek to hire.
- Thinks of the team first – I am always drawn to the Olympian that will put aside their own desires to better the team. Seeing athletes focus on ways to honor their team and teammates is an example of integrity that makes others better. When you find an individual that would set aside their own desires, even if they are worthwhile, for the good of the team, you should waste no time bringing that individual onto your own team.
- Desires to honor all those individuals that have poured themselves into their lives – Every successful Olympian has had many other individuals sacrifice to make the Olympics possible. My heart is always warmed by the stories of how parents, teachers, coaches, spouses, and friends sacrifice to allow the Olympian just the opportunity to compete. I want employees that recognize the sacrifices of individuals in their lives, as well, that have made their success possible. Individuals that speak highly of those sacrifices and frequently give credit to others are individuals that will tend to work harder and be more focused in the workplace. I want these individuals on my team!
- Knows that life is not all about them, but about making life better for those around them – Likewise, I am not interested in potential employees that think the world owes them a job, recognition, honors, or platitudes. The individual that seeks to serve others first is the individual that will better serve your customers, fellow employees, the community, and individuals that need a helping hand.
- Will represent you and your organization well – It is gratifying to see Olympians express their thanks and pride in their country, their team, their coaches, and their fellow competitors. I want individuals on my team that will always represent me and the organization well, not in a way that could embarrass others. Find that individual that will proudly do what they can, even when you are not around.
I thoroughly enjoy watching the Olympics. It seems to bring out the very best of most athletes that represent their countries. But, it can also be very revealing of the character, integrity, and attitudes of those same athletes. Applying these examples of character and integrity to the workplace can reveal employee attributes that we need to seek. Take the time to understand how a potential employee is motivated before finalizing the hiring decision. It could make all the difference to you and your team and the success you have worked so hard to achieve.
Have a great day!