Motivational speaker and business coach Mary Owens of Black Diamond Associates was the guest speaker at the Sept. 25 monthly luncheon meeting of the Greater Riverview Chamber of Commerce.
There she likened the quest for an "edge" to the efforts of Olympic athletes and their quest to improve by that "hundredth of a second."
"If every day you focus on that one thing that will make you one-hundredth of a second more successful, what do you think your business will be like a year from now? Ten years from now?" Owens said. "Might be amazing."
Owens noted, too, that "Olympians tune out distractions."
"They go into a cone of silence and get really focused on the end result," she said, adding that business people need to address the "red balloons" that distract them from the work at hand.
Setbacks? Olympians view them as learning experiences, Owens said. "They grow us, mold us, make us stronger. Olympians know they're going to have them, they plan for them."
What gets them through, she added, is "irrepressible determination."
"Do you have it?" Owens asked. "Did you use to have it, and lost it?" Focus is key to both getting and sustaining that determination, she said.
So, too, is viewing competition as a good thing, and especially so the better that competition is. "Olympic athletes want really great competition, it makes them better," Owens said. "Embrace your competition. If they're good, it reflects good on you. You want good competition. It's huge."
Likewise, Owens views pressure as a good thing, because it protects against complacency. "Pressure is positive," she said. Without it, "complacency is a trap you will fall into."
"When the economy was going good we were complacent," she said. "If I showed up [at work] the phone would ring and I would be okay. What did we do when the economy turned? Crisis."
Crisis is born of complacency and it yields to a focused pursuit of irrepresible determination, which in turn is molded by attitude and the choices we make.
As Owens put it: "There are few things in this life that God gives us 100 percent control over. Our attitudes and choices can take us up, or take us down."
Owens is managing partner and co-founder of Black Diamond Associates in Brandon, at 123 West Bloomingdale Ave. As a certified business coach, quality facilitator and behavior analyst, Owens partners with executives, business owners and organizations to help them reach new levels of success.
In 2009, Owens was a finalist for Tampa Bay 2010 Business Women of the Year and was awarded the YWCA Women in Leadership Award.