4 Ways To Win An Olympic Gold In Investing

Tips from the world’s greatest athletes

Source: Unsplash

The average Joe looks at Olympic athletes and investors like Marvel superheroes.

On paper, playing soccer or running the 100-metres and investing money in a company sounds simple. Kick the ball; press the button. But that’s oversimplifying. Athletes who win gold at the Olympics or individuals who make millions off gold stocks are in a category of their own — at least, compared to the average person.

And yet, top athletes and investors are not on opposing ends of the spectrum. In fact, they have more in common than you might have thought.

In February 2021, RBC Direct Investing spoke to Olympic athletes Erin Latimer, Brianne Jenner, and Gavin Smellie about setting and tracking goals. The brokerage division of Canada’s largest bank by market capitalization (nearly $200 billion) found that their approaches translate well to investment portfolios.

Here are four lessons they learned.

Purpose Is Everything

Purpose is power and having goals gives you a sense of structure, purpose, and ownership.

Olympic sprinter Gavin Smellie told RBC Direct Investing that while he wasn’t necessarily studious in school, when he committed to pursuing his sport professionally, he put his head down and brought up his grades to qualify for a scholarship.

“I zoned in. I jotted down what I needed to do and I just did it.” — Gavin Smellie

Another defining factor for success, according to two-time Paralympic alpine skier Erin Latimer, is making sure your purpose and goals come from you, not from outside influences.

Latimer started in the Canadian Para-Alpine Ski Team program, but because there were so many factors and voices trying to contribute to her success, she felt like things were becoming “have-tos” rather than “want-tos.” When Latimer became more accountable for her own goals, she found her perspective changed.

“If you want someone to meet their goal the key is for them to come up with it, because then there’s buy-in, an understanding of everything behind that goal.” — Erin Latimer

In the financial world, self-directed investors know how important it is to set their own goals. They want to forge their own path, have financial control, and create plans to guide their decisions.

To Achieve The Big Goal, You Have To Set Sub-Goals

When Olympic hockey player Brianne Jenner was a young girl, she remembered watching Team Canada win its first gold in women’s hockey at the 2002 Winter Olympics. From that moment on, Jenner recalled that making it to the Olympics was her dream.

However, Jenner, who now has an Olympic gold medal, knew that because the Olympics is such a big goal, “you have to break it down into the steps that it takes to get there.”

She had to progress from local to provincial to national hockey before the thought of going to the Olympics was ever a reality.

In other words, Jenner set sub-goals to get to her big goal.

Investors do something similar. For instance, new investors must first understand the market before jumping into the deep end and building their portfolios.

You Have To Focus On What You Can Control

All three Olympic athletes agreed there are things you can’t control, whether it’s the weather, the sleeping arrangements in the Olympic village, or the fans and the media coverage.

“You have to tune out those things and just focus on what’s 100 per cent within your control. And most of the time, a lot of that is your mindset,” says Jenner.

In investing, there are so many factors at play. As such, what happens in the stock market is outside of your control. All you can do is make a plan, do your research, and understand how you’re going to handle any curveballs thrown at you.

The Learning Never Stops

Even though Jenner has been on the national women’s hockey team for almost ten years, she told RBC Direct Investing that she is still learning what she’s capable of and how hard she can push not just her body but her mind too.

“As you become an older athlete, you really search and turn over every rock to figure out how you can continue to develop.”

It’s the same in investing. Regardless of your experience level, there is always something new to learn, such as controlling your emotions and not giving in to the powerful pulls of fear, especially when there are declines in the stock market.

Investors and athletes have more in common than meet’s the eye. Whether you’re going for a gold medal or a market return, it’s crucial to set and track your goals and learn to manage them through uncertainty.




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Caroline Winston

Caroline Winston

Inspired, thought-provoking journalism. A hub for business, technology, sport, culture, and everything in-between.

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