Recently, Desiree Linden became the first American woman to win the Boston marathon in 33 years. For a little perspective, 33 years ago the Soviet Union was still kicking, an actor named Ronald Reagan became President, and Marty McFly became the first person to time travel in a DeLorean.
Linden won the marathon in what most would consider “less than ideal conditions.” Temperatures were approaching freezing, it was raining cats and dogs, and there were 32 mile an hour wind gusts. Or, as I like to call them, “Call into work sick” conditions.
However, Linden didn’t do this, she actually used the conditions to her advantage and stormed her way to victory.
Many great athletes learn to love miserable conditions, and use them to their advantage. As Roger Federer put it, “What I think I’ve been able to do well over the years is play with pain, play with problems, play in all sorts of conditions.” Rather than looking at these problems as, well… problems, Federer and Linden saw opportunities.
Productive Leaders know how to do this as well. They understand that the rain falls on everyone, and that if they can learn to love the tough times, they’ll have an advantage on their competition.
So how can we do this?
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Prepare in less than ideal conditions
Often when we practice or train we do so in a way to minimize resistance. But if we want to be prepared for the challenges we will face tomorrow, we must face them today. Whether you’re role playing a sales pitch or training for a marathon, seek out opportunities to do so in less than ideal conditions.
Change your mindset
Whenever an issue arises, rather than cursing under your breath and shaking your fist at the sky, ask yourself “How can I turn this problem into an opportunity?” This mindset will help you avoid discouragement and find new routes to success.
Never make excuses
When conditions are poor it’s easy to justify less than satisfactory results. However, champions never lower their expectations. No matter how rainy it is, someone’s going to win that race, make that sale, or finish that project, why not you?