Image generated by OpenAI’s DALL·E

A Winner's Worldview: Who's Going for Gold in 2024?

Success is often driven by a clear, external ambition. Athletes' Mindset Holds the Key to Business Triumphs. Discover the Winning Principles that Propel Athletes to Gold and Apply Them to Your Business.

Sophie Krantz
Sophie Krantz

The 2024 calendar features the XXXIII Olympic Summer Games in Paris. Athletes worldwide are aiming to fulfill their dreams by representing their countries. Their ultimate goal is not just to compete but to win gold and achieve glory on the winners’ podium.

The path elite athletes take offers valuable insights for business leaders seeking success in a complex world.

A Winner’s Worldview

Elite athletes understand that to be the best in the world, they must adopt a winner's worldview. This mindset focuses on three core principles: global awareness, global activity, and global ambition.

Global Awareness: Athletes must be acutely aware of what’s required to win globally. They maintain awareness across relevant trends, sporting body rules and regulations, and strategic intelligence, including their competitors' strategies and advancements across the globe. This knowledge is like standing at the foot of a mountain, equipped with the necessary skills and insights to climb the summit.

Global Activity: Being globally active means engaging with top-tier support teams worldwide. Athletes participate in international training camps, and as the Games approach, they acclimatize to environments similar to the host cities. This preparation phase is like scaling a mountain, integrating expertise with the competitive environment. Global sponsorships, partnerships, and media engagement also play a critical role in this journey.

Global Ambition: The ultimate goal is gold - reach the summit of the mountain, to stand on top of the world. This vision fuels their ambition, driving action and determination to reach the pinnacle of sporting success. This clearly defined ambition drives laser focus, omitting anything outside of this view. Success comes with glory on the day, a lifetime of influence, and professional opportunity.

The correlation between sports and leadership in business, government, or society is striking. Success in these areas is often driven by a clear, external ambition. Understanding the competitive environment, engaging with a global network aligned with one's vision, and actively navigating the broader business, geopolitical, and socioeconomic climate are essential elements for world-impact or market-beating results.

Ambition. It’s Complex.

In Australia, where I’m currently based, the nation holds its breath for its athletes competing at the Summer Olympics. A strong finish in the medal tally is expected; anything less sparks public outcry and scrutiny of sporting bodies. Australian athletes are metaphorically on the mountain right now, embodying the principles of being globally aware, active, and ambitious. They are hungry for gold.

Outside the sporting arena, Australia's global ambitions seem to falter. This is particularly reflected in its economic standing and global business ambition.

Australia's ranking in the economic complexity index (ECI), as per the Harvard University's Atlas of Economic Complexity, reveals a concerning trend. The country has slipped to 93rd out of 133 countries, marking a significant drop of 38 places from its position in 1995. Australia is currently placed between Uganda and Pakistan. Australia’s decline suggests an over-reliance on commodity exports and a lack of investment in more diverse, sophisticated sectors.

This falling rank in the ECI, indicative of an economy becoming less complex, contrasts distinctly with Australia's high GDP per capita. The disparity suggests that while Australians enjoy a high standard of living, the economy's underlying structure may not be as robust and diversified as it needs to be for long-term stability and growth.

Zooming-in on the role of business leaders, surveys by PwC and KPMG highlight a striking contrast in the outlook of Australian CEOs compared to their global counterparts. While CEOs worldwide perceive geopolitics as a primary risk, Australian CEOs appear complacent and confident in the viability of their current business models. This attitude raises questions about their global awareness and ambition.

Perks Over Performance?

I often wonder if this attitude is due to the fact that Australia, on global terms, is a smaller market with relatively few C-suite roles. Do executives prioritize their personal job safety over-ambitious business goals?

This possible mindset overlooks the realities of the world in 2024 - economic contraction, geopolitical tension and ongoing wars, the disruptive impact of technology, as well as the availability of untapped growth from innovative business models.

While Australia is geographically a remote island, it does not stand isolated. It has a seat at the global table as a G20 member (although PwC predicts it will be the 28th largest economy by 2050), and it is highly integrated in the global economy through various trade agreements. Australia is impacted by global affairs and is invited to play a role.

The current leadership attitude also ignores significant challenges faced in Australia, including indigenous health, environmental degradation, homelessness, and domestic violence - areas where leaders are needed to make a difference.

Today’s Decision, Tomorrow’s Regret

What we achieve in the world is directly impacted by how we see the world. Without a mountain to climb, we are destined to stay where we are. This may be at the base of others’ mountains while they move past us. For some leaders, today’s decision to play it safe will be tomorrow’s regret of not playing a bigger game.

The Olympic athletes' journey to Paris 2024 embodies the essence of being globally aware, active, and ambitious. It is a notable contrast to the current trajectory of Australia’s economic complexity and the seemingly complacent attitude of its business leaders. While athletes aim for the summit, Australian executives would benefit from considering their own metaphorical mountains. The nation's economic and societal challenges require a similar level of ambition, strategy, and global awareness.

When a nation can punch above its weight on the world stage, this need not be limited to the sporting arena. Leaders of Australian companies, such as Canva and Atlassian, have paved the way for success that not only beats the market but also leads in impact.

Ambition. It’s Personal.

As current or emerging leaders, we each get to decide our level of ambition and the ambitious goals we set. No one will do it for us. In fact, others may deliberately stifle our ambition to suit theirs.

Whatever your worldview, low-ambition does not have to be the default. It pays to look up and out and to aspire to be like those with a winner’s worldview. Doing so creates a competitive advantage in a changing world. The higher you soar, the harder you are to catch, granting you greater freedom and capacity to lead.

Reflective Questions:

Amplified ambition drives global goals. The questions below are to gauge, at a high-level, your current and planned goals in 2024:

  • What ambitious goals do you see in your company, industry, or market?
  • What is your biggest professional ambition? (What do you want to win gold in?)
  • What alignment or gaps exist between your ambition and that in your external environment?
  • What are you doing to bridge these gaps in 2024?
  • What is the personal cost to you of low or no ambition this year?

Something Exciting is Landing on Amazon on March 1st. 

Secure your advance copy of Sophie's Epic Space Mission

This book embodies many of the principles laid out in Exponential Organizations, an international bestseller by Salim Ismail, Peter H. Diamandis, and Michael S. Malone, by which it is inspired. Crafted for children but laden with insights for adults, this story shows us how to turn the everyday into play and fuel the imagination. Get your copy today.

LeadershipFuture of SportsBusiness StrategySuccessMindsetGlobal Awareness

Sophie Krantz Twitter

Sophie is a global strategist who writes on global leadership in the digital age. She works with leaders worldwide to amplify their ambition and accelerate their agency to drive global goals.