02/07/2014 03:37 pm ET Updated Apr 09, 2014

World-Class Performance: The Commitment. The Pursuit. The Achievement.

The essence of the Olympics is embodied in its motto--Swifter. Higher. Stronger.
The Sochi Winter Olympics games are finally here. To be held from February 7-23, the 2014 Olympic Winter Games will be the first time that the Russian Federation will have hosted the Winter Games since the break-up of the USSR. Ninety-eight events in fifteen winter sports will be held. And over the two plus weeks, more than 3,000 athletes from around the world will do their best to go faster, jump higher and be stronger than their competitors. In the process, they will make the impossible...possible.

The Olympics inspire us as do few other events in the world. The pageantry, the
drama, the coming together of different people and cultures are a spectacle to behold.
We also learn a lot from these premier athletes and from the games themselves.

We admire the Olympic athletes' laser-like focus on winning. Each athlete does whatever it takes to get the gold. During the games, they set new records and standards for exemplary performance. Some win gold medals and others do not. But every one of them is exquisitely prepared and ready, having spent their energy and time focused on winning for the days, weeks, months, and years preceding the games.

As we watch the games, we learn about the stories of struggle, sacrifice and discipline. We rejoice in the victories and agonize at the defeats. We sit mesmerized as all the athletes demonstrate the discipline, focus and commitment it takes to be a winner.

The Olympic Games compel us to want to reach out and achieve our own higher
objectives. So how will you respond? What race will you run, and how will you begin or continue your journey to the gold? Who will support you, and how will you remain
committed to achieving your objectives? What does success look like for you?

In today's fast-paced world, we are running a race every day--in our organizations
and in our personal lives. Do you have the clarity, focus, and commitment to win? Can you
rise up to meet the 3C challenge? In a world of citius (swifter), altius (higher) and fortius

Are you swift enough to beat your Competition?

Are you reaching high enough to delight your Customers?

Are you as strong as your Company needs you to be?

The race is on: Are you fit to win?

Remember those days when life was a little easier, when you could kind of predict the future, when you knew who the competition was and that the playing field was level? Well, those days are over.

Life and business-as-usual are unusual. Structural, permanent changes create new technologies, introduce new competitors, influence workforces, and alter attitudes in the marketplace. External events shape the future of any person, team or organization. It's happening to everybody, every industry, every organization. It is happening to you.

Academicians, researchers, consultants and practitioners tell us that change is occurring at a blistering pace, leaving many people unprepared. True enough. The leaders who dominate in this new era will not only understand the changes affecting them, but seize them, master them and use them to their advantage to achieve ever higher performance. Every business is seeking to reengineer itself to adapt to a changing environment and seek a competitive edge in the global marketplace.

Welcome to the new normal of change, uncharted territory, unprecedented
challenges and new realities on a daily, even hourly basis. Traditional ways of competing
have reached a level of parity whereby businesses cannot distinguish themselves just on the
basis of quality, technology, product or price. Excellence in these areas is table stakes in
today's global marketplace--the price of simply entering the game. Going to the next level--
superior performance on each of these key dimensions--requires superior skill sets and

This is a tale of two worlds. There is the one we have today: global economic
uncertainty, concern about climate change, lack of trust in the corporate (also government) sector. Then there's the likely world of tomorrow: even tougher competition, limited resources, stricter environmental regulation, and more transparency in the way business is done.

This new world will reward leaders and companies that innovate with sustainability in mind -allowing them and their customers to cut costs, find new markets and recapture customer trust. In short, it will reward inspired action with real results.

Does this excite or frighten you? Are you fully prepared? Is your team fully prepared?

The essence of change- Change is the dominating reality of the business world. It feels as if we are moving from bedrock to quicksand. The galloping pace of change demands an unprecedented response from leaders and organizations. Rapidly evolving technology, diminishing natural resources, increasing global competition, and a more diverse workforce - all require organizations to learn and change more and to do it faster in order to remain competitive.

Trying Not to Lose is Different than Trying to Win- The lingering recession of 2008 has taken quite a toll. Many companies and leaders world-wide are still in survival mode. They are just trying to survive, not to grow. The same is true of some executives. Trying not to lose is far different than trying to win. We must encourage them to again try to win with world-class performance.

It's time to lean forward and position your company (and yourself) for greatness
and achieve world-class performance. Regain your Olympic-like competitive edge, rekindle your desire to compete and win. Place a premium on exemplary performance in all dimensions--quality, productivity, service, sales and value. Growth and innovation is not only possible, but necessary, during challenging times.

Today's winning leader is not just here to weather the storm; they are here to
completely change the game. These leaders engage all people as active participants in
delivering value creation, and this includes everyone at every level of the organization and
customer base.

World-class competition is the ultimate proving ground of people, teams, and
organizations. Competition brings together exquisitely prepared men and women in a
pressure-cooker atmosphere--each of them vying for victory. The line between success and
failure is often razor thin--no more than a hundredth of a second or a few millimeters. The
winners will be those who best prepare both physically and mentally, and give the extra
effort that leads to victory. This will be true in Sochi. It will be true for leaders at all levels.

Confucius said, "The will to win, the desire to succeed, the urge to reach your full potential--these are the keys that will unlock the door to personal excellence." We will see this in spades as we look upon the spectacle of world championship performance in the 2014 winter Olympics.