“The thrill of victory and the agony of defeat ... the human drama of athletic competition.”
Many of you will remember that statement from ABC’s Wide World of Sports with Jim McKay from 1968 to 1998. While the defeat segments changed over the years, I remember the ski jumper who crashed as he traveled at a high rate of speed down the jump. Even though I knew it was coming, I still felt pain and winced at the sight of this jumper’s crash every time it was replayed. So as my husband and I diligently watch the 2014 Olympics, we cheer and celebrate when metals are won. These athletes and their families have committed, in most cases, a lifetime to achieving this level of expertise, both personally and athletically.
The words that come to mind are commitment, dedication, adversity, celebration, teamwork, reassessment and regroup. Many of the athletes are favored to win the gold based on their performance and accomplishments since the last Olympics or during the past year’s competitions or the trial runs since arriving at Sochi. But then, on the day of competition, their performance falls short, they crash or someone is just better. They accept the results and then move ahead to work harder, train better and improve.
Those same things apply to business.
• Commitment: Whether you are a CEO of a large corporation or an entrepreneur with an idea, you give all your time, talent and treasures to accomplishing that goal. Successful companies develop a strategy and a culture so all employees in the organization know what they are working toward. One example of how companies build overall commitment is by holding regular company meetings with all employees to share financial performance and then celebrate a successful month, quarter or year. These updates build commitment and keep everyone on the same path. Updates also can explain why a recent action or decision helped to influence the bottom line.
• Dedication: Athletes know what dedication looks like. Their bodies are tired or in pain, but stopping is not an option. They push through and accomplish greatness. During one of the Bulls championship games, Michael Jordan had the flu, yet still contributed 100 percent to win the game. Sharing the importance of a project with your team and showing appreciation of efforts builds dedication. A dedicated team will work hard to complete a project on time even if it means taking extra steps, working late, coming in early or challenging the norm.
• Teamwork: Hockey teams know all about teamwork, and so do outstanding businesses. No company can survive if the team is not working toward a common strategy and goal. From the newest team member to the most seasoned, working collaboratively is the only way to be successful and remain in business. Let’s look at a manufacturing company that makes a part for CAT’s mining equipment. The sales person gets the sale; the engineer reviews the design; the procurement person orders the material; the team in the manufacturing operations performs their tasks according to the engineer’s plans; and the product is shipped. If by chance the metal is too soft or too hard, causing a rejection by CAT, the part is returned, and the company is not paid. The ripple effect of continued disconnect within the team could cause the company to lose a customer and ultimately close. Teamwork and communication among the team is critical.
• Adversity and reassessment: An athlete may crash on the downhill run or miss a completion due to an injury. Does he hang up his skis or get up and complete the course? Companies also must have the same ability to face adversity, regroup or reassess and move ahead. No company has the perfect strategy, culture or financial performance, but if the team or entrepreneur keeps working to improve, recognize the shortfall and then make corrections and improvements, you make it through the troubled time and come out stronger. This is not easy, but with the right commitment, dedication, teamwork and sheer will to succeed the agony of defeat can become the thrill of victory.
Celebration: Take time to celebrate a good idea, new product, new employee and new order no matter how small. This keeps the energy level high, provides positive motivation and gives the team an opportunity to smile. Alex Bilodeau, a Canadian Men’s Freestyle Skiing Moguls, won gold in Vancouver and in Sochi. In Vancouver, before he accepted the Gold medal from the Canadian Prime Minister, he walked over to his brother who has cerebral palsy to celebrate with him. Celebrate with your corporate family, share successes with your employees and supporters.
McHenry County is filled with dedicated business leaders who share these attributes and are committed to being successful. Some of these companies have been recognized through our Business Champion awards during the past five years, including, most recently, Watlow in Richmond, Advanced Flexible Components in Lake in the Hills and Phoenix Woodworking in Woodstock. Our website, www.mchenrycountyedc.com, has additional examples.
The county’s workforce is educated and committed to delivering great products and services. Our collaborative partners in education and the McHenry County WorkNet are actively engaged in providing training and building skills to support our business community. With Illinois having the fifth largest economy in the nation and 19th largest economy in the world, we are positioned in a middle of a great economic region between Chicago, Milwaukee and Rockford.
Your McHenry County Economic Development Corp. and its board of directors are working as a team with our county, municipalities, allies and many partners to go for gold and grow our $7 billion economy.
• Pam Cumpata is president of the McHenry County Economic Development Corp. Reach her at 815-893-0895 or firstname.lastname@example.org.