A note from Roger Kahn on Swimming and Business

By Roger Kahn

I started swimming competitively over 50 years ago, and have always used my participation in sports, and my efforts to compete at a high level, as a blueprint for my performance in business.  

What one does to be successful in sports carries over directly into business.  

After all, competition is competition, and whether you are looking to win your next swimming race, or to be selected over your competition for a coveted account, there are certain universal rules that apply to both.

  1. Deliberate/Mindful Practice –  To excel in swimming and prepare for competition, I ‘deliberately’ practice several days a week.  This doesn’t mean getting in a pool and mindlessly swimming back-and-forth. No, I go in with a plan, with forethought, and with effort.  You need to do the same in business.  This means practicing a presentation that you are going to give; developing and learning the best answers to questions and objections that can arise in a sales call or meeting.  You have to stay sharp all of the time, and not just go through the motions.
  2. Staying Current – In swimming, I read various sport-specific magazines, and regularly visit various websites to stay current with swimming technique, training philosophies, training aids, strength/power/speed development exercises.  I participate in clinics to get hands-on training from the world’s top swimmers and coaches.  The same needs to be true in business.  You need to stay current with industry developments, technology changes, service offerings, new competitors etc.   You don’t want the world, and your clients, to pass you by because you are unaware of the changes in your industry.  You also need to stay current in sales and presentation techniques, and personal development tactics.
  3. Constant Effort to Improve – In swimming, my mindset is always that I am looking to go faster every time that I compete.  At my age (early 60’s), this is definitely not attainable in the long-term, so while my focus is always to go faster, in reality, I am looking to not slow down as much as my competition does….ie, it isn’t how fast I swim, but how slow I don’t swim!  In business, I constantly want to improve my service delivery to my clients.  I want to improve our sales ability to increase our closing ratios.  In short, I want my company to be better today than it was yesterday, and better tomorrow than it is today.  It takes constant, consistently applied, effort.
  4. Review Performance – After each competition, I review my times, how I felt, how my stroke seemed, my breathing cadence, my start, my turn, etc, and determine where I need to improve, and what I need to do to improve.  Then I undertake what I have to in order to attain that improvement.  I do the same after every sales call, customer interaction, staff interaction, presentation, etc.  I ask myself what I could have done better – which answer could I have stated better, which objection could I have handled better, what could I have said to avoid the objection all together, and so on….and then I undertake to make the improvement.

Whether you are competing in sports or competing in business, the goal is the same – you want to win. What you do to ‘win’ in sports is the blueprint for winning in business.  Start making the transfer happen and just watch the results.

Roger Kahn operates Champion Office Suites in Garden City. You can reach him at his website at http://virtualofficeny.com/.

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