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SabrinaZolkifi_Feb2014_SochiRings

4 lessons we’ve learnt from Sochi

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The 2014 Winter Olympics currently happening in Sochi, Russia, has been making international headlines over the past couple of weeks – and not necessarily for the right reasons.

However, we’d like to believe there’s a silver lining to everything, so here are four lessons relating to management, leadership and branding we can move from the ice to the office.

1. Someone is always watching

In the days leading up to the Olympics, journalists sent to Sochi took to the internet to highlight the sub-standard living conditions they were being subjected to.

It launched a trending Twitter account (@SochiProblems), which has already garnered more than 339,000 followers, significantly more than the official @Sochi2014 account, which has 264,000 followers.

The Twitter account, along with several other websites, featured photos of incomplete hotel rooms, washrooms with very public toilets, and filthy looking tap water.

While such public scrutiny is expected for an event as massive as the Winter Olympics, it’s a good reminder that even the smallest details could be dragged out and magnified when you least expect it.

2. You can never be too prepared

On that note, it may also be fair to say that Sochi was given plenty of time to prepare for the Olympics. Sochi was elected to host this year’s Winter Olympics in 2007, giving the coastal city – and country – seven years to prepare.

With that in mind, it can be hard to excuse the spray painting of grass (we don’t understand that either) and the unfinished paved walkways.

It’s always better to be over-prepared than under-prepared, regardless of whether you’re getting ready for one of the biggest sporting events in the world, or a presentation with your team.

3. Failure is another opportunity for success

A few of the Winter Olympic athletes have made headlines this year, one of them being American figure skater Ashley Wagner.

Wagner was under a lot of public criticism and people questioned whether she was deserving of a spot on the Olympic team, following a poor performance at the US championships just a month ago.

However, Wagner proved her doubters wrong, helping her team secure a place in the medal round, and winning a bronze medal in the team event.

Despite the pressure Wagner must have been under, she was able to keep her mind focused on the task at hand, proving the right mindset, coupled with determination and preparation (read the point above) can be the deciding factor between winning and losing.

4. You cannot please everyone

The opening ceremony went less than smoothly, and came under fire for a glitch which saw only four out of the five Olympic rings light up. While the world took it as another opportunity to highlight failures of the event, the creative director of the ceremony, Konstantin Ernst, took it in his stride.

“This is certainly bad, but it does not humiliate us,” he told The Telegraph. Ernst’s approach to what could have possibly been a career-ending hiccup goes to show that not everything can be micro-managed.

Image source: Twitter

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Sabrina Zolkifi
Deputy editor
Human Resources Magazine Singapore

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