The entrepreneurial drive to financial security – the Olympic way
I shoulda' learned to play the guitar
I shoulda' learned to play them drums
~ Dire Straits, Money for Nothing
If you want to become financially wealthy, or as I prefer to state it, financially secure and stable, become an entrepreneur … but don’t expect it to be easy.
Paul Graham founder of Y Combinator, which has been responsible for seed funding and nurturing many start-ups, and who is highly respected in venture capital circles, writes in one of his essays:
“If you want to make a million dollars, you have to endure a million dollars' worth of pain. For example, one way to make a million dollars would be to work for the Post Office your whole life, and save every penny of your salary. Imagine the stress of working for the Post Office for fifty years. In a startup you compress all this stress into three or four years… If starting a startup were easy, everyone would do it.”
Be the best in the world
Britain won seven gold medals, a silver and a bronze from 10 cycling track events in the Olympic Velodrome plus 1 gold, 2 silvers and 1 bronze from the road cycling events, (overall 8 gold medals, 3 silver and 2 bronze). Behind the track and cycling team is the performance director and head coach, Dave Brailsford. Success, Brailsford has always made clear, ‘comes from a willingness to accept responsibility and the certainty of some extremely hard years.’
To be the best in the world means to offer the best service in your world, your community, you may aim to be the best coffee shop in Abu Dhabi, or the go to consultant for online payment advice in the Middle-East, the best website builder in Dubai and so on. The point is you have to set yourself absolute clear goals and pursue them vigorously. Or as Brailsford says: 'You start by analyzing the event that you want to win and then you give yourself priorities because you can’t win everything.’
You need to have a plan and follow through: 'We look at the gap between where we are and where we have to be to win and then we create a plan and execute it.’
'We won seven gold’s from 10 events in Beijing (2008 Olympics). We've won eight gold’s from 11 events here (London 2012 Olympics). So of course it’s possible to win all 10 (track events at the Rio Olympics 2016). That has to be your starting point. When we started off Team Sky (Brailsford is the team principal) we said, "Right, let's shoot for winning the Tour de France with a clean rider within five years." This year Sky cycling team won a historic 1st and 2nd placed at the Tour de France with Bradley Wiggins and Chris Froome. They did it within 3 years!
Detail, detail, detail
Success takes putting your actions and habits under the microscope, what Brailsford calls the: “aggregation of marginal gains.” This involves meticulously examining the minutiae of almost every detail: 'If you break down everything that you need and improve every little aspect by 1 per cent then that can make a difference. Some things are essential - fitness, biomechanics, etc - others are less essential but can make the difference such as posture when you sleep, using the right kind of pillow.
'Hygiene is extremely important because you are going to get ill a little bit less. If you put all these little things together you are going to improve.'
“You stay behind at night, having incessant telephone calls, non-stop, 24/7." What about this? What about that gear?" You go through it over and over again. And that’s the level of intensity.”
Brailsford believes these tiny details can make the difference between gold and silver… being the best in the world.
Winning mindset – take responsibility
What is a winning mindset? Sure it is about knowing who you are, about controlling the controllables… your irrational and emotional behavior, your attitude, your effort, and your energy. But most importantly a winning mindset comes by the transformative power of effort. Taking responsibility and doing what you say you will do.
Dave Brailsford says this winning mindset comes when people are responsible and passionate: “People who don’t need their hands holding… People who don’t want to go with conventional wisdom all the time. People who are open, honest, people who have passion.”
“The thing is, there are constantly things going wrong. Every day. If people are coming up to you with problems all the time, they’re not going to last too long. If people just want to moan, that doesn’t chime very well. I hate moaners.”
“You can write as many mission statements as you like but what you want is people who are on a mission.”
Many of these cyclists have found their passion and through hard effort and diligence, have put themselves into contention for financial stability. Are you living a mediocre unsatisfied life or are you on a mission to offer a winning service and create your financial security?