5 Inspiring Career Lessons From Olympic Athletes

Olympic Rings logo as metal statue

Olympic athletes are the toughest on Earth. The majority of their entire lives are around training in their sport, which requires specific skills. Whether you’re an entrepreneur or aiming for that promotion, mastering these lessons will help you out.


Right Mindset

“The only victory that counts is the one over yourself.”

— Jesse Owens, American Sprinter and Long Jumper, and 4 Time Gold Medalist

No one ever medaled in a sport they didn’t like. Olympians don’t just train their bodies for the sport; they also train mentally. For a team to go from good to great, they need to work on their concentration, confidence, manage their distractions, control their anxiety, and stop negative thoughts. No one ever won the gold by second-guessing themselves. If you want to be the best, you need to first believe in yourself. By doing your best, you win the battle within yourself.


Manage Your Time

“If you want to be the best, you have to do things that other people aren’t willing to do.”

— Michael Phelps, American Swimmer and 28 Time Medalist (Most Decorated of All Time)

Plenty of Olympic athletes are current student-athletes, meaning they have to balance their schoolwork, training, and Olympic sports obligations. While most student-athletes average about 20 hours a week practicing, Olympic athletes train for roughly 36 hours each week. In order to achieve their dreams, they keep a strict schedule, set attainable goals each week, and are able to sacrifice all the usual fun things, like hanging out with friends, in order to find the time to train. Michael Phelps is absolutely correct in this quote because not everyone is willing to sacrifice that much. Your results depend on what you’re willing to do to be the best.


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Prepare for the Hard Days

“The hard days are the best because that’s when champions are made.”

— Gabby Douglas, American Gymnast, and 3 Time Gold Medalist

No one trains for years without having some bad days. It’s just a fact. The difference lies in how people react to the hard days. The weather, for instance, has a huge impact on outdoor sports. Too little wind is bad for sailing, but too much is bad for tennis. It was so cold in South Korea during the 2018 Winter Olympics that the temperature warped the skiis. Too extreme heat or cold affects the athletes’ performance, so they have to prepare ahead of time as much as possible. In extreme heat, for instance, some athletes benefit from a longer acclimatization period and cooling vests. The hard days don’t usually come with much warning, so it’s important to be able to adapt when they show up.


Practice Makes Perfect

“Luck has nothing to do with it because I have spent many, many hours, countless hours, on the court working for my one moment in time, not knowing when it would come.”
— Serena Williams, America Tennis Player and 4-time Gold Medalist

Everyone knows that you don’t get to the Olympics without hard work, but it’s more than that. Nearly all Olympic athletes start training when they’re children. Simone Biles started when she was six. Michael Phelps was seven. At one point, someone had to teach Michael Phelps how to swim and Simone Biles how to do a somersault. No one starts as an Olympic athlete. They failed tons of times to achieve their goals, but they kept trying again. They persevered until they were the best at what they do. It takes a lot of hustle to get that far, and that’s pretty inspiring.


Dream Big

“Never put an age limit on your dreams.”

— Dara Torres, American Swimmer, and 12-time Olympic Medalist

Dana knows what she’s talking about because she had two comebacks. She first competed in 1984 (winning one gold medal) and the 1988 Olympics (winning one silver and one bronze). After seven years of being out of competitive swimming, she returned and won five medals at the 2000 Summer Olympics in Sydney, Australia. At that point, she was the oldest woman (33) to win an Olympic medal in swimming – but she also won more medals than any other U.S. team member (five). Her second comeback was in 2008 when she was 41, making her the oldest U.S. Olympic swimmer in history and the first American swimmer to compete in 5 Olympic games (and won three silver medals). In her career, Dara won a total of 12 Olympic medals, which is the most amount of medals won by female Olympic swimmers, tied with Jenny Thompson in 2004 and Natalie Coughlin in 2012.

“I think this performance ranks up there with the biggest performances in sports ever. It puts Dara in the ranks of Michael Phelps, Michael Jordan, Tiger Woods. What she has done is really not measurable.” Michael Lohberg, Torres’s coach said of her winning three Olympic silver medals at the age of 41.

You can’t achieve a dream without having one. We all cheer when the people representing our country win, and so will you when you achieve your goals. It takes work, dedication, and guts, but it can be done. That doesn’t mean it can always be done in your current situation. We are an award-winning staffing agency, with permanent, contract-to-permanent, and contract positions. (Check out what other people have experienced with us, our latest rating on the Better Business Bureau, or the awards we’ve won.) We can get you to the next level! Here’s how we do it. If you’d like to advance your career, check out our latest job openings at Jobs at NESC Staffing or just avoid the search and just send us your resume here. We look forward to hearing from you!


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