Greetings Bay Tek readers, Ben Jones here.  Very pleased to be contributing to the industry alongside my friends at Bay Tek.  As some of you know, I am a former FEC owner/operator of 21 years and recently completed a wonderful tenure with IAAPA: 20 years as a volunteer and as a FEC Specialist, where I coordinated FEC programming and counseled FEC members on business planning and best practices. I am now an enthusiastic member of Live Oak Bank as its FEC Domain Expert, a new role for me and a crazy exciting opportunity for our industry – access to capital and long-term project financing!

This is the first in a series of features focused specifically on operating and growing your business. What most of you may not know is that I was an accomplished athlete and competed at the highest junior, collegiate and professional levels in multiple sports. I am also a fan of sport and the Olympic spirit grabs me emotionally with each summer and winter rotation.  In honor of the countries, the athletes and the games, I present a team metaphor for this first feature.

Family, fraternity, little league, volunteer, workplace or sport each are teams with beliefs, ideals, values, traditions, goals and sacrifice. Whether you are coming together for Olympic glory, a family or high school reunion, to collaborate on a project, as mentor or coach or wedded partners, everyone belongs or has belonged to a team.

At the Sochi Winter Olympic Games, Canadian freestyle skier Alex Bilodeau won gold in the mogul competition. There are many emotional and compelling stories about Alex and his brother Frederic; the kind that bring tears of joy and feelings of respect and connection. But I want to focus on two statements made by Alex immediately after winning gold, after making history, after laying down an incredible run under pressure, after becoming the first freestyle skier to win back-to-back Olympic titles in one discipline and after many other Olympic and personal “firsts”. About his brother Alex exclaimed, “Out of respect for my brother I have to go after these dreams and to do all within my power to try to make it happen. He is my motivation. I share this with Frederic.” Of his teammates, “I am a gold medalist because of them. They push me to work harder and we push each other to be better skiers.” What I love is that neither of these remarks are about Alex.

World-class snow skiers generally do not train together. They work out in their respective home towns or ski towns and come together at various intervals for team training and national, international and World Cup competition.  What they each bring to a group dynamic is their individual routine, work ethic, technique, strengths, and what they surrender is a small piece of themselves for the benefit of their teammates and the greater good of the team. Through a surrender process, what they openly share their teammates grab onto and gain.  What is important about surrendering is that the individual does not lose what they share, “it” is always within; by sharing, you have simply enabled others to excel based on your contribution.  A true win/win. The great NBA coach Phil Jackson said, “The strength of the team is each individual member. The strength of each member is the team.”

All of us have teams that support us. Whether our pursuits are individual and personal or in the group context of work and sport, we have Olympic size teams behind us. Here are three selected elements that sport and world class competition has taught me and that I’ve tried to instill in my teams:

Believe in the impossible. Establish big goals. Nothing else needs to be said.

Cheer your heart out. Surround your team with positive energy and be a coach, role model and unwavering supporter.

Everyone has a voice and a role.  Give equal time to both the stars and the supporting cast.  It might be your second string or number two who have the next great idea or lead you to victory.  The Olympic Motto is “Citius, Altius, Fortius.” The Latin words mean “Swifter, Higher, Stronger.” Apply these strategies to your life, to your organization and you just might have your own Olympic moment to share.