Be More Like Olympians In Business


I had a chance to listen to a truly inspirational speaker recently — paralympian Jeff Adams.

He made two key points in his presentation. One was about training and discipline. The other was about passion and money.

Both points hit home with me.

And I’ll bet they hit home with you, too.

Paralympians and Champions

Jeff Adams is an amazing athlete. Six-time world champion, he competed in 6 consecutive Summer Paralympics from 1988 to 2008—winning a total of 3 gold, 4 sliver, and 6 bronze medals.


Jeff competed in the 400m, 800m, 1500m races, and the 4X400m relay events. In 2000 he competed in the 5000m event.

These races are tough, gruelling events. They take a toll on your body when competing. Training for them is even tougher and more gruelling.

Yet Jeff trained and competed for more than 20 years. How did he do it?

Dedication. Discipline. Determination. And hard work.

So when Jeff talks about success and how to achieve it, we should probably learn from his experiences.

Discipline and Training

Jeff’s first point was about training and discipline. To become a top athlete in any sport, he said, you have to train hard and be disciplined.

I can attest to that.

I train at a strength & conditioning facility Laylor Performance Systems in Toronto. P.K. Subban, a defensemen for the Montreal Canadians and arguably one of the National Hockey League’s best players, also trains there.

Athletes understand that the secret to success is to work on your game as much as working in it. And only a select few actually put in the time to do this. For athletes, one key aspect for working on your game is strength training, and for businesses; it’s the Q2 (very important, but not urgent) brainstorming.

P.K. is representing Canada in the 2014 Winter Olympics at Sochi.

Photo by Clance Laylor of LPS
Photo by Clance Laylor of LPS

I see P.K. at the training facilities, sometimes twice to three times a day during the off-season. Not only that, when I bump into him in social events, he’s drinking water.

Like Jeff, P.K. values his passion over anything else. All Olympic athletes do. They train when they feel energized and when they feel tired. They train when they feel happy and when they feel sad.

They never stop training or working hard. That’s discipline!

Yes, Olympic athletes may have great talent, or they wouldn’t be representing their country, but so do their competitors.

Everyone has 24 hours in a day. There’s no excuse not to work harder than the competition. I bet if Jeff and/or PK put their minds into business they will also achieve a high level of success.

Shouldn’t we be the same way at work?

Get out of the mode of letting responding to e-mails (Q1 – Usually urgent, but rarely important) get in the way of how you should strategically grow your business, and yourself.

Colin has taught & mentored me to dedicate hours each day to very important, but not very urgent things (Q2). These are the things that have changed my perspective and businesses profoundly — this is my strength training in business.

Passion And Money

Jeff’s second point was about passion and money—about how when it really comes down to it, you should take passion over money.

He related a story about passion that resonates with all of us.

Early in his career after Jeff had won a few races, McDonald’s sponsored the construction of a $2 million “bike” for Jeff. He met thousands of fans racing the bike that year. But one meeting sticks out.

One day he was talking with a young boy who had had the same misfortunate accident that Jeff had as a boy. Enthralled with the bike, Jeff gave permission for the little boy to sit on this $2M custom made bike.

The young boy hopped on the bike, and started making a “swishing” sound as he pretends to “pedal” the bike in an imaginary race.

That had hit home.

He said if he had to choose between the sound of a roaring crowd of millions in the Paralympics, or the “swishing” sound the boy made, it was a no brainer. It is what Jeff lives for—the chance to create happiness.

Isn’t creating happiness what it’s all about? No matter the environment?

For myself, I’m dedicated to making real social change. I love creating something that not only helps clients but also gives back to the community.

I used to tutor junior to high school kids math back in the late ‘90s, early 2000s.

Out of the many students I’ve helped, I distinctly remember one student that sent me an e-mail after almost 12 years, saying how much I have made an impact in their life. That to me is priceless.

I plan on dedicating myself to giving wherever I can. And I feel the happiest when I’m doing it. Like Jeff, I probably wouldn’t trade that feeling for a roaring crowd of millions either.

Training. Discipline. Passion.

These are the things that drive Olympians.

It is time we start thinking a lot more like champions.

Action Point: Write down a list of passions that really drive you — whether at work or in our personal lives. Then ask yourself how you can use them to achieve success.

About the author

Jeremy Choi

I’m a husband, father, entrepreneur, mentor, and an irredeemable golf addict. Possibly like you, my big hairy audacious goal (vision) is to make a positive dent in this world. I write about creating better leaders, workers, and people. I also write about my experiences in all aspects of my life. These ideas are my experiences living & learning through my own core values; integrity, authenticity, leadership, inspire, and health.

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