Remember Michael Phelps

by margaret turner

I don’t remember how many records he broke or medals he won, but I remember the big grin—maybe you do too.   Michael Phelps is the most decorated Olympian of all time, and his poolside grin told the world that he was enjoying it.

I expect part of his pleasure was in seeing how his training strategy had paid off, resulting in all those medals around his neck.  Apparently part of Phelps’ training strategy was to challenge himself to be the best.  From age 11 on, it’s reported, he didn’t miss a day in the pool for six years.  That added up to many days of extra training over his competitors and teammates who took a day off each week.  It’s also extraordinary dedication for a kid, and then a teenager:   Phelps was only 19 when he won all those medals at his first Olympics in 2004.

Phelps has spoken about how pushing boundaries and aiming beyond the finish line helped him achieve his swimming goals.  Now he’s moved on to new goals, one of which is to play all the great golf courses in the world—that probably makes sense to you golfers out there.

Given his record, Phelps will probably continue to be a winner—and I, for one, will cheer him on.  Part of the reason I think he’ll succeed is his process of goal-setting.

Remember what I said in my blog post a few weeks ago about New Year’s resolutions?  I was talking about setting a realistic goal, achieving it, and then setting a new one, with the bar a bit higher each time.

I didn’t mean every new day means a new goal, although that might work for some people.  For the rest of us it might mean spinning our wheels because we can’t focus our vision or persevere to meet today’s challenge.

But my point is that it’s a dynamic and innovative process.  For Phelps that would mean “faster, stronger, better” as he pushed through one record time after another.  For business the challenge is sustaining a competitive advantage, and a version of “faster, stronger, better” works there too, if it means evaluating goals, measuring success and adjusting strategies.  Innovation and creativity don’t mean a lack of focus—they mean being open to new ideas, recognizing and seizing opportunities, and being in tune and in touch with your clients’ needs and values.

FLOW is committed to being open to new ideas and innovative in our approach to success.  FLOW is a new company in the business of virtual office support, which may be a new concept to some of our clients.  That means we’ll climb the learning curve together.  As well, we’re building a great team and seizing opportunities—that’s what entrepreneurs do.

And we’ll measure our success by our double bottom line, as we invest our profits in projects and causes that fit with our vision.

Social enterprise is defined in part by its process of continuous innovation, adaptation and learning.*  We know that entrepreneurs are innovative in their application of new ideas and development of new models and approaches.  Add the social enterprise dimension of creating and sustaining social value rather than private wealth, and you’ll see that FLOW is exploring, learning and adjusting our strategy as we meet challenges and encounter new ideas.

And with each goal we reach, and each win for our clients and the people we support, we’ll set a new goal.  Just like Michael Phelps.