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Leading like an Olympian

In interviews, Olympic athletes are always asked about their competitors and past accomplishments (or dissapointments). Listen carefully and you’ll hear the athlete’s answer focuses not on what needs to be done to out-perform their competition – but what needs to be done to rise to the occasion and surpass their own past personal best.

One of the greatest examples I’ve heard coming from the Beijing Olympics is from the NBA’s Jason Kidd. As he was packing his suitcase for a month on the road with Team USA, he had a decision to make: should he bring along the Olympic gold medal he won eight years ago in Sydney? It’s the only gold medal that any of the 12 American players can brag about owning. Kidd pondered whether having that medal dangling in front of them would inspire Team USA to work hard for the gold, or breed jealousy and envy. In the end, he decided to leave the gold medal inside a safe deposit box at a bank in Houston and to start concentrating solely on what lies ahead: The challenge of coming home from Beijing with another gold.

“I didn’t want to jinx myself by bringing it and looking at it. I want to play for this: Beijing. I want to play for this gold medal,” Kidd told ESPN.com.

This is a phenomenal reminder that as leaders, we must always strive to be better than we were the preceding day, week, month, or year. We must look to the opportunities ahead and focus on what we can do now to do our own personal best.

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