Personal Development

3 Lessons Olympians Can Teach Us About Reaching Our Best Potentials

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The Olympics are on, and even if you don’t take the time to watch all the events, it is impossible to shut out all of the buzz. Even without turning on your TV once, you’ll likely hear of the stories of the legendary athletes and the outcomes of the games themselves. So, for those inspired by these champions, what takeaways and insights can be applied to real estate investing?

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It’s Not Just Talent

It’s not. There are millions of highly talented people who never make it. They never achieve going to the Olympics, making the NFL, getting to a pro league, being a business owner, or breaking into real estate.

Why not? It’s work. It requires a ton of dedication and work just to get looked at for a chance to compete in the Olympics. To compete as an athlete, you have to work every day to maintain your diet, to stay healthy, to keep your reputation clean, to stay out of trouble, and to IMPROVE on a daily basis.

Even just organizing the Olympic Games is a massive undertaking. This was even truer this year, with the engineering and logistical issues in dangerous Rio.


Individuals should never assume things are easier for these athletes. In many cases, Olympic athletes have faced incredibly tough challenges and have had to fight through injuries. It’s not going to be easy dealing with the day to day of being an operator in the real estate market. But whatever hurdles you face, you can bet someone else has overcome worse. You’ve got to commit to keep going anyway.

It takes work. That is not just amount of effort, but also the amount of time you put in. Serious athletes might put 6 to 12 hours a day in training and studying for what they want to win at. That may be just one specific exercise or movement.

Related: Two Real Estate Lessons I Learned by Watching the TV Show Million Dollar Listing

Remember, Michael Jordan said, “I have missed more than 9,000 shots. I have lost almost 300 games. On 26 occasions, I have been entrusted to take the game winning shot — and missed.”

If you want to win in real estate, how much time are you putting in? How many hours do you spend putting in offers each day? How many offers did you make today?

Find What You Are Good At

Yes, talent may also be a factor. We each have different areas in which we are more talented, skilled, and experienced. Sometimes what you are good at and what you love to do are not the same things. You might love music or sports, but be a horrific singer, DJ, or baseball player. That’s OK. Maybe you are a great commentator or coach and you can use those skills in the music or sports industry. One Olympic skater started out playing ice hockey, but then discovered his strong suit was actually speed skating. That’s where he excelled above everyone else.

In real estate, you might excel at negotiating deals or selling properties. Or you might be best at customer service, dealing with tenants, fixing things, or working behind the scenes as an accountant. You might have a lot of time and little cash, or vice versa. You can still get involved. Know what you have to bring to the table. Know where you fit on your team and where you could use some other players.


Related: What Real Estate Investors Can Learn from BiggerPockets (the Business, Not the Website)

Learn to Focus

The biggest game changer champions experience is the moment when they realize that everything they do, every minute they spend, and every dollar matters. Is it being spent to get closer to the goal? If not, it is taking you further away.

If you are still desperate to get into real estate and say you can’t find the time or money, but are blowing your paycheck going out every weekend, those dynamics may not change. But if you find the motivation to take action and invest, you may soon find all the time and cash to go do the things you aspire to do. 

The one caveat here is not to lose focus on your main, ultimate goals. Don’t get lost in the metrics. If the whole purpose of getting into real estate for you is to have more free time with your family, then working 100 hours a week and saying you’ll find more time when you get wealthy is not a good trade off. Work towards finding a balance.

Have you been watching the Rio Olympics? Does any particular athlete motivate you to work harder?

Let’s talk in the comments section below!

With just under a decade of experience in the real estate industry, Sterling currently manages over $10MM in capital, which is deployed across a $26MM real estate portfolio made up of multifamily apartments and single-family homes. Through the company he co-founded, Holdfolio, he owns just under 400 units. Sterling was featured on the BiggerPockets Podcast and has been contributing content to BiggerPockets since 2014, with over 200 posts on topics ranging from single-family investing and apartment investing to wholesaling and scaling a business.