23 May 2012

Going For Gold

When it comes to sports that best prepare you for the challenges of a future business career, I reckon the Modern Pentathlon takes some beating.

With each individual event having its own specific challenges, success in this particular arena, just like in business, hinges on the ability to adapt quickly and to embrace a series of different strategies. Take the swimming and running stages. Here, discipline and extreme focus is the key. A winning performance demands 100 percent effort - no matter how tired or under pressure you are. The shooting requires painstaking precision. Being able to relax completely, maintain concentration, and deal effectively with stressful situations is essential if you want to hit the target. Fencing, meantime, demands a quick shift to a more aggressive and determined mindset. Then there’s show jumping. Because we’re assigned a horse at random just 20-minutes before competition, a strong performance is highly dependent on your ability to cope with uncertainty. You need to be flexible enough to formulate winning strategies and contingency plans in the face of the unexpected.

While I’m hoping these attributes will help me achieve a fantastic result at the up-coming London Olympics, I’m also hopeful that they’ll be highly applicable to my future career. In my conversations with industry and business leaders, I’ve learned that the type of competitiveness, discipline and focus I'm applying now are traits that organisations definitely look for in their executives. It’s their opinion that once these abilities are in place, applying them to different scenarios and challenges is a very natural progression.

Of course, all this is a little way off yet. While my goals for London are firmly in place, my career ambitions are a little less clear. Not that there’s a huge rush to decide. With my Masters of Commerce studies only half complete, I’ll just have to wait and see what develops in post-Olympic life.

Author: Edward Fernon - Masters of Commerce student, qualifier for Australia in Modern Pentathlon at the London Olympics

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