The scoop on how to be a successful remote worker, from the South by Southwest Interactive conference in Austin, TX.
Freelancers are essentially entrepreneurial athletes. To be a freelancer is to consistently train oneself on the best and most efficient ways to run your business. There is a goal in site, to live well doing the work you love under your own terms, and to reach that goal takes practice. Athletes of all types need inspiration when they feel like they are facing a challenge and there’s no better place to look to than The Olympics. The games are a showcase of goal-oriented, hardworking, confident and fearless self-starters that freelancers can take notes from. So just like Edwin Moses, 1976 and 1984 gold medal hurdle jumper, here is a who’s who of Olympic athletes you can look to overcome freelance hurdles.
As freelancers, one day you think you can manage your work and the next day, you’ve bitten off more than you can chew. With multiple deadlines looming, there’s no way you can switch your brain to refocus and get each project done on time! Wrong. Look at Michael Phelps. In the 2008 Beijing Olympics, Phelps (also known as “The Fish” or “The Phenomenon”) took home eight gold medals, effectively breaking Mark Spitz’s seven gold medals in one Olympics. And these medals were given for different events like the 200-meter freestyle, the 200-meter butterfly, and the 4×100 meter freestyle. He switched gears for each one and made history so there’s nothing stopping you from being the multi-tasking athlete that you are.
Has a client ever asked you to do something you aren’t sure you’re capable of? Maybe they put you in a new situation and your hell-bent on succeeding even though you’re out of your territory? Or they asked you to learn something last-minute that you have to be fluent in the next? Look at Eric Moussambani to help you get through this hurdle. Moussambani, a swimmer from Equatorial Guinea, joined the 2000 Summer Olympics after a wildcard drawing of participants in developing countries that did not have full training facilities. He had never seen an Olympic size swimming pool. He swam in the men’s 100m freestyle and after, his fellow competitors were disqualified for making false starts, he was the last man in the pool. While his time was not up to Olympic standards, Moussambani garnered attention because of his perseverance; he didn’t let his fear of something new stop him from jumping right in.
The Dream Team
As freelancers, we sometimes get stuck and are afraid to ask for help because we consider ourselves “one-man bands.” But there’s nothing wrong in surrounding yourself with people there to lend a hand. Look at the 1992 United States Men’s Olympic Basketball Team. Dubbed The Dream Team, this roster included Michael Jordan, Scottie Pippin, Magic Johnson, Larry Bird, Patrick Ewing, David Robinson, Charles Barkley, Karl Malone, John Stockton, Chris Mullin, and more. The team has been called the greatest sports team ever assembled. Why not make your own dream team? This could include a fellow freelancer, a 9-to-5er, a mentor, or the team at AND CO. Surround yourself with whomever is your “best of the best” and see what heights a little help can take you to.
There’s nothing more harrowing than pushing through when everything is breaking down around you. Remember when your Macbook broke and you had a deadline looming or the time your internet suddenly went down with a client Skype session in twenty minutes? Look no further than Kerri Strug to get you through the toughest times. Strug was competing in the 1996 Olympic Games and incurred an ankle injury on her first round at the vault. Even with the pain, she historically stuck the landing on her second turn and helped the U.S. Women’s Gymnastic Team beat Russia for the first time in history. So sure, as freelancers there will be unexpected hurdles that we have to overcome even when everything is crumbling that we have to fix alone. But, looking inside our own perseverance, we can stick the landing – even if it means running to the local Starbucks to hit the deadline.
Your work didn’t meet a client’s expectations. You mixed up a deadline. A steady paycheck suddenly disappears as a company goes under. These are some of the things we deal with that could make a down-and-out freelancer throw in the towel. Hermann Maier, an Australian skier, crashed at the 1998 Nagano Games. Due to a turn on a downhill icy bend, his flew off course at 70 mph. Surprisingly, he wasn’t as injured as expected and didn’t let what could have been a life and career ending event to veer him off track. He competed two days later and took home the gold in two events. So if you’re ever feeling like you can’t go on, look at Maier to gain some strength and get back on your feet.
These are just some of the inspirational moments in Olympic history and there will be more coming starting on August 5th in Rio. For now, remember that you are your own athlete striving to get that freelance gold and nothing can stop you.