What freelancers can learn from London 2012

Spending my time at the London 2012 Olympics has been such an emotional experience and taught me so much, writes Kay White, founder of Way Forward Solutions, a specialist communication and mentoring consultancy.

Every race, every event and all the interviews before and after prove, without a doubt, the traits which all the participants share. Their physical fitness, age and cultural background all differed – at least to some extent, but I noticed, time and again, the same success strategies.

As ever, I kept my ear out for the words that were not being said just as much as the words which were being said. With that in mind, dear freelancer, here’s the 8 fastest finishers which, unquestionably, aren’t confined to track and field, but rather apply to the daily grind that you face as an independent business professional.


Make a decision to do something; to be someone, to have something and commit to it. No doubt, no waivering, no ‘faffing’.Bear in mind the many stories of athletes moving countries away from their families to get the best training or support. Making that level of commitment separates you from people who ‘would like to’ rather commit to. Despite the injuries, the setbacks, the personal traumas, they commit and stick to it. What are you 100% committed to and how does it separate you from the ‘well, I’d quite like to’ players in the market?


The training, the lifestyle, the self-care, the mental game.I heard someone say they had run the race in their head so many times so when it came to it, and came to winning, he felt he already had.He just had to go out there and show us how he’d done it.

In business, to prepare; think through the angles, know your stuff, well, it makes you able to be ‘loose’.You’re more flexible when it’s real because you’ve been through it so many times before the event.What are you preparing for - and how are you running through it in advance, again and again, so you can be ‘loose’ too?


In short, respect your competition and get to know them. Keeping an eye and an ear on what other people are doing and respecting them for it.There always seemed to be a healthy regard and respect for the competing athletes.

In business, the same attitude helps. In reality no one has the same skills, the same experience, the same story as you.Rather than try to be a clone of someone else, being you and bringing your own personality and pizzazz to everything you do will always make you special. No one else can do it like you. What do you know that makes you special and different and how could you allow yourself to stand out more for it?


Take the advice and know-how of people who can see your game as you’re playing it. Their experience and knowledge then becomes inextricably mixed with your own.Every athlete always cited their coach and mentor in their thanks because they see things that you, far away in the audience, simply couldn’t.

I know this to my toes in my business and bring this to my clients in theirs.Who supports you and gives you guidance and input while flying your flag with you?


Do this or go home! I heard that a few times.If you don’t believe in yourself, how can you expect anyone else to?Standing sure and firm in your belief in yourself isn’t about showing off and being like a peacock, it’s about self-certainty.You knowyou can’t control what anyone else does, says or how they play the game. But you can absolutely control how you behave and how you believe and keep believing.

The phrase ‘I never, never, never gave up believing’ was a London 2012 quotable.What about you – what are you standing sure and firm in yourself about?


Giving that extra 10%, or going the extra mile, you don’t think you have cannot be overlooked. When you need it, you do have it. The stories of that extra push, that final “I just went for it” energy that somehow we have when we call it up. So many medalists said “suddenly, I just found more in the tank”. When you think of something you achieved because you found that extra 10% from somewhere, what difference did it make for you?


You could virtually see a switch flick. The concentration, the mental strength, the focus. Then, the delivery. Then came the celebrations, the relief and the release. It’s a true part of the process in whatever you’re setting out to achieve to allow yourself – and anyone else involved – time to celebrate and acknowledge what’s been achieved. Too often it’s straight on to the next challenge. Well don’t. Have a look at Usain Bolt’s ‘happy dance’after winning the 100M Gold and you can’t but smile at his smiley moment. What’s that something coming up for you which you’ll prepare to do your ‘happy dance’ about?


Always always, run your own race. I heard this phrase so often. Rather than be pushed or mind-gamed by other athletes, the press, the crowd, you stick to your plan because it is your own race. No one else has the same cards to play with as you and no one else wants the same things as you, as they’re not you. It’s obvious and it’s easy to forget. Whose race are you running and what’s it really about for you?

With all the highs and lows, the twists and turns of our own day-to-day work, rest and play time, I believe Baz Luhrmann, the film director hits it squarely on the nose. The following quote from him is as true for you in business, in your career, in your day-to-day life as it is for an Olympian.

“Sometimes you’re ahead, sometimes you’re behind. The race is long, but in the end it’s only with yourself.”

Editor’s Note: Article reproduced with permission of Kay White, a communication and mentoring expert at Way Forward Solutions. Contact Kay for more information and savvy communication tools and tips. 


23rd August 2012

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