Leaders: Don’t Forget the Journey…

Ryan Millar Olympian

The true prize that I received in sport did not come in the form of medals, awards, or records.

Rather, the greatest gift I received from playing sports was found in the process of it all – it was found in the journey.

My Olympic Journey

Any true prize comes in the highs and lows, wins and losses, the grueling practices, and the gratification of knowing that you are laying the groundwork for greatness.

With the Olympic Games in London now over, I have caught myself reflecting on the many years leading up to my own Olympic journey.

What I have discovered is that many of my fondest memories are caught in the journey itself.

Unfortunately, most of the time we only focus on the end success or failure, but success or failure is really just the result of the journey.  I have been fortunate enough to have competed in three Olympic Games.

Each one of those Games was an end result of the time spent preparing for them.

True Success: Executing a Worthwhile Plan

Ryan Millar Olympic Gold MedalistWhether or not they were considered a success, the journey is where the result was created.  No athlete has ever achieved success without preparing before hand.

No athlete has arrived at the pinnacle of sport without some type of journey that was followed.

You can’t just show up and say:

“Here I am, I am ready to succeed.”

Being able to stand on top of the Gold Medal podium in Beijing was incredible.  There are few things greater than winning as a team.  In volleyball, there are many moving parts.

And the ability to have those parts move in an efficient manner is incredibly difficult… But well worth the effort!

Setting the Stage for Greatness

As a group we fought off tragedy, criticism, injuries, pressure, fatigue, and doubt.  We did this by preparing ourselves the weeks, months, and years prior to even setting foot on that podium.

  • Every step created a new learning experience.
  • They created a new way to deal with what lie ahead.
  • The work in which we were engaging was harmonious.
  • Our preparedness set the stage for greatness.
  • Without respecting the process, the end result would have been much different.

Accountability, Planning & Execution

Accountability was a large part of the journey.  We had each experienced our own fair-share of disappointment along the journey.  Those disappointments helped us learn what it was going to take to outline and map our journey in a way that would eventually lead us to success.

Plan for success:

  • Our coach created a total buy-in from all involved.
  • Roles were created and established.
  • Responsibilities were plainly laid out in front of us.
  • There was no confusion about whose job was whose.

Rather than dealing with poor planing and execution, everyone knew that it was everyone’s job to contribute and help each other achieve the difficult task of becoming the best team in the world.

Without the lessons learned along the way, none of these vital changes could have taken place.  The margin between winning and losing can,  and often does, come down to a very small amount.

We used our journey to close that margin, then reopen it in our favor.

Focus on the Journey

As leaders in our various fields, it is our responsibility to help those we work with or for, focus more on the journey.

>>> Lets do a better job of helping others understand the importance the journey, and the direct correlation it has on the end result.

>>> Lets help facilitate a culture of accountability in the process of success or failure, rather than forgetting and overlooking what delivered that success or failure in the first place.

When we learn to have more respect for the journey, we will learn to have more respect for the outcome.

So what steps can you take as a leader to insure that your team is well-prepared to appreciate the journey? How can you better plan and execute to help your team learn as they progress toward a goal? What obstacles are in your way that you can overcome in YOUR “Olympic” quest? I would love to hear your thoughts!

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Ryan Millar
Ryan Millar 3x Olympian & 2008 Olympic Gold Medalist
He is a speaker & facilitator on Leadership, Motivation, Dedication & Culture
Email | LinkedIn |  Twitter | Web

Image Sources: blog.nj.com, myrealitytelevision.com

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