As the Paralympics begin this evening, there have already been many discussions and column inches devoted to the lessons to be learned from the Olympic and Paralympic Games. In light of the incredible positivity surrounding the activities and efforts of the last few weeks, from sportsmen and volunteers alike, commentators are looking for the knock-on effect which could be applied in fields other than sport, especially the possibilities for business in emulating our medal winners. It would make perfect sense to point to the collective pursuit of excellence as the explanation for the successes on display. Individual sportsmen working with and for each other and the team as a whole, creating success by solid effort and an unshakable belief in the quest to do better. The contrast with the superficiality of some aspects of our culture could not be greater but is rarely thrown into such sharp relief.
In the main, these sportsmen (and the volunteers involved) have put the needs of the many over the needs of the one – any Star Trek fan out there will recognise that idea instantly. Putting in the hours, even when you don’t want to, looking for even the most marginal gains by reflecting on what has already been achieved and knowing, just knowing, that improvements are still possible. In the case of our Paralympians, add in the sheer guts required to overcome barriers and obstacles which can only be guessed at.
In truth it really does boil down to who we are that matters, as well as what we do or what we set out to achieve. The professionalism displayed by all concerned is without question and on show for all to see. But here’s the thing. We already know that this is the route to follow in the drive for excellence. This is not new knowledge - it has just been submerged for a while.
If we, as individuals, and we, as a group or company come back to the basic premise that professionalism counts in all we do and excellence is an integral part of all of our endeavours, how quickly could we all benefit? How quickly might we change the expectations that we have of ourselves and, perhaps more importantly, of those around us? Will this help the way we do business – of course it will!