Beyond the Build

Customer Relationships

From the Slopes to the Board Room, Success is All About Preparation

In business, it’s easy to get caught up in the now. Which fires need putting out this instant? While a certain amount of urgency is to be expected, I’m convinced that making time to prepare for what’s coming next is the key to success. When it comes down to it, most business wins are about preparation and execution.

A sports story seems like a good analogy, since we are essentially talking about two forms of competition. Even after all the press about the 2010 games died down, the story of an American Olympian keeps coming back to my mind. Todd Lodwick finished fourth in the Nordic combined ski event, only seven tenths of a second behind the bronze winner. He trained equally hard as the medalists, yet Lodwick came away with nothing.

There is a key difference between Lodwick’s struggle to win and ours: Olympians are only given one shot to get it right every four years. We have daily, weekly and monthly chances at success. Here’s what I think these athletes can teach us:

There are no guarantees. As Lodwick learned, you can go through all the necessary steps, do your best, and still come up just short. The good news is you get more chances. The experience of walking through a loss makes you better prepared for the next opportunity.

If you don’t work hard, success won’t be waiting at the finish line. Strategy and effort are necessary requirements for any winning endeavor. Athletes don’t just wander into the Olympics. They work hard to get there. Likewise, businesses don’t just stumble upon success. They take the steps needed to build up a customer base and then to keep the customers relationships going.

Hard work and preparation are gratifying. They lead to a sense of personal achievement. When asked by NBC if he was disappointed at finishing second by the blink of an eye, Lodwick replied, “No, because I think the only reason you can have to be disappointed is if you didn’t give it your best shot. I definitely gave it as much as I had and ended up second. That’s where I was that day, and it’s still pretty darn good.”

How are you preparing for success?

{Image Source} 

Merrill Stewart Jr.

Merrill Stewart is Founder and CEO of The Stewart/Perry Company, a commercial building contractor based in Birmingham.