6 Habits Entrepreneurs Should Steal From Olympic Athletes

6 Habits Entrepreneurs Should Steal From Olympic Athletes

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Athletes spend years of their lives since childhood build successful habits and it almost goes completely ignored. The problem with most fans of sport is that the behind the scenes story is not paid attention to nearly enough. When you look at the super successful entrepreneurs they all have stories that show much more than what meets the eye.

The world of sports is the same as these, as there is a reason that some reach high levels and others don’t.  Athletic gifts do play a role in this success but habits play an even bigger role.

A great example of this is Kobe Bryant. People see his success on the court but they quickly forget that to get that he woke up at 5AM everyday in high school just to practice. They forget that he puts up 400 made shots on a daily basis. He didn’t just wake up an NBA and Olympic champion; he worked for it daily through his habits.

If entrepreneurs use their habits correctly there is no telling the levels of success that can be attained. Here are the habits that entrepreneurs need to steal.

1. Rise Early

I fell into the habit of the early rise by accident to be honest. 2012 was my junior year at Iowa State and I made a change that changed my entire season. There was a young man I was training with for the year, the problem was that he graduated already and though our track coach would allow him to train with the team, the strength coach would not allow him to do that.  This meant that if he wanted to lift, he would have to come in at 5AM before anyone else did.

I refused to get up at 5AM at first, but when I explained the situation to my Dad he encouraged me to go train with him. I saw no reason to get up that early but little did I know it would be the best move I have ever made.

Getting Up Early Did 3 Things For Me

  1. It helped me develop a morning routine
  2. It started my day with accomplishment
  3. It brought me to an uncomfortable place

Knowing that I had to be in the weight room at 5AM forced me to have a pattern with my mornings. It was the only way to get through it because many times I was still half asleep and I did not want to think about things. My routine was designed to wake me up without having to think about what to do.

My Routine Was

  • Wake at 4:15
  • Brush teeth and wash face
  • Put boiled eggs on
  • Make oatmeal
  • Make protein shakes
  • Put food that was made earlier in my bad for lunch etc..
  • Eat breakfast
  • Leave for training session
See STEVE'S Daily Routine

I rarely ever swayed from this routine and it actually made the morning really easy. No matter how tired I was some days, I just relied on my habits to get me to the training session for the day.

There is no better feeling than knowing by 6:30 I had already dead lifted 450 pounds, front squatted 270, and did Bulgarian squats with a 20 pound weight vest on while holding a 100 pound sand bag… Until I threw up mind you.

When I started my days with this kind of intensity, it made me feel unstoppable and this feeling naturally helped me do well with entrepreneurship.

This change made me so uncomfortable at first, but it forced me to grow and I can promise you that without it I would have never made the Olympic team. This one small change of setting everyday up for success set my season and life up for the same thing.


Success starts early in the morning! You see this time and time again when you look at the life of other successful entrepreneurs. Start by waking up 1 hour earlier and keep stair stepping your way down. Push yourself on this and force the uncomfortable into your life.

Tips for Getting up ON TIME

2. Know Thy Day Before Thy Day

I never once woke up that Olympic year (2012) without knowing exactly what my day looked like. I had morning weight sessions, then practice later, class in between, work for Cover Ground, I started an app company with some friends that got a $150,000 investment, I had my own clothing line, and I had homework to do. I was doing too much stuff but I got a great lesson out of it.

If I had days where I woke up and I did not know where I needed to be or what I needed to do I would waste time and get nothing done. All it took to fix this was writing down a quick schedule and to do list before I went to bed. It helped me to wake up with a real sense of direction. This feeds back into waking up early. It’s hard to get up early if you don’t have something you’re fired up to attain.


Don’t let the minutes of the day tell you what to do, you have to take control of your life and tell it how you’re going to spend your time. The time belongs to you and you can’t let anyone convince you otherwise.

3. Pre-Planned Meals

Most busy people give up on sleep and food. Since my goal was to go to the Olympics, this was a luxury that I could not afford. I had to complete a lot of tasks each day while sleeping for at least seven hours and eating five meals a day.

I have a body type that naturally wants to be skinny, as a 100m sprinter who needs to pack on muscle mass though I needed to change this. Weight lifting is part of this equation, but the other part is eating a lot of calories everyday.

Meals Each Day

  • Breakfast
  • Protein shake after morning weights
  • Snack
  • Lunch
  • Protein shake after running session
  • Dinner
  • Before bed meal/snack

The problem I had though was that I would leave my house at 4:50 and would rarely return until about 9pm. This meant that I had to have my meals prepared before hand.

I would spend all of Saturday and Sunday in preparation for the week. I would cook big tubs of food that I could rely on taking with me for lunch and dinner everyday. People often made fun of me for this because I often had crappy meals for dinner because they would be in my bag all day but it was part of the struggle of being what I like to call an Athlete CEO.

Most people would just say it would have been impossible to do but I did it. I left my house everyday with a bag full of food and snacks and I hated having to carry it everywhere but I was dedicated to my goal.


Prepare for what you say you want. If you want to lose weight but you don’t prepare food to meet those demands you will fail. If you say you want to double the revenue of your business but you don’t prepare for that to happen you will fail.

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4. Endurance

The scary thing about the Olympics is that the preparation for it starts four years in advance. The second an Olympic games is finished, new dreams are born and the chase for the next one begins for so many. In this four-year cycle, if you do not have your endurance locked in then you will falter.

In my book Endure: An Athletes Guide to Faith, Hope, and Success I received stories from around 50 different athletes all explaining the hardest things they have ever went through. Every goal comes with a point that you must endure through. It does not matter who you are, if you don’t have what it takes to keep plowing forward when you have all reason to stop you will keep failing.

In The Book I Listed the 7 Stages of Success

  1. The Dream Stage
  2. The Analyzing Period
  3. The First Step
  4. The Work Period
  5. The Tired Period
  6. The Second Wind
  7. The Breaking Stage
  8. The Endurance Point
  9. The Successful Moment

Notice how the endurance point is right before the successful moment? That’s because when we want to quit the most we are usually the closest to having a break through.

A number of elite athletes have contacted me about the book and they can always relate to this cycle because anyone who has ever had a successful moment knows this to be true.


You need to make a habit of pushing through instead of quitting. Most people make a habit of starting over. They are always chasing the new and shiny thing. You have to be grounded like a 100-year-old tree.

READ ENDURE: An Athlete's Guide to Faith, Hope, & Success

5. Visualization

You can look across countless sports and you always see that the athletes who don’t just rely on talent. They rely on hard work and they constantly visualize their success. I have always had vivid visualizations of things I see and want in my future.

Michael Phelps' coach made him practice visualization the second he got up and as the last thing he did before bed. That’s powerful because he got to witness perfection as the first and last thing he did each day.

All year I would focus on visualizing not necessarily making the team but doing the things right that would allow me to make the team. Having the big picture in your head is great, but you also need to visualize practice going well each day. You need to visualize that next competition. It all matters when we are talking about building successful habits.

I remember when the Olympic trials were approaching I focused not on making the Olympic team but on the race I needed to run to make that team. I spend so much time watching this race in my head over and over again that when it actually came it was second nature to me. I needed to come top 3 in the race and I ended up coming second, I lost to my older brother Justyn who I got to be roommates with him the Olympic village. How cool is that?


Can you create a clear picture in your head of exactly what you want? If you can’t you need to be able to if you want to benefit from the power of visualization. Visualize the big stuff like the car you want, the difference you want to make or maybe the money you want to give away. Then spend more time visualizing what you need to do to get there.

6. Get Out of Your Feelings

The 3 Questions I Get Asked The Most Now

  1. How do you eat the things you eat
  2. How do you wake up at 3am every morning now
  3. How do you just keep grinding on things

The answer to these is simple. It’s because I don’t live within my feelings because they are a lie. The reason people gain weight is that they live inside of their feelings. They don’t feel like eating vegetables, because they FEEL like eating sugar. They don’t feel like working out.

From waking up early and having to have my food packed for the entire day, I realized that I had to detach my FEELINGS, from my needs. A lot of people just won’t do this because it’s hard.

I didn’t feel like getting up early but needed to do it if I wanted to be an Olympian. I didn’t feel like eating stuff out of the bag but I needed to if I wanted to be an Athlete CEO.

I didn’t feel like not being able to party all the time.

I didn’t feel like having to push my self through workouts when my body was screaming to stop.

The reality is that we never feel like doing the things that require success. This is why this was the most powerful habit that I developed. Once I retired from sport I moved my 5AM wake up to 3:10AM and it was easy for me because it was not based on FEELING.


Do what you need to do and not what your feelings are telling you to do. Your feelings will always want you to do what is easy and comfortable but success requires the opposite.

These are habits that I have lived by and they changed the course of my life forever. When I began to study entrepreneurship I noticed that a lot of the habits many of the successful ones preached about others needing, I already had because of my dedication to being an Olympian.

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Take Up the Challenge

I challenge you for the next 10 days to get up early, plan your next day before bed, endure, visualize success, and lastly get out of your feelings. Leave a comment and let us know which part of the challenge will be the toughest for you and why.

About the Author

Ian Warner graduated from Iowa State University with a business degree while on a track and field scholarship. He made the Canadian Olympic team in 2012 as a member of the 4x100m relay. He is the Author of Endure – An Athlete Guide to Faith, Hope, and Success. He is also the co-founder of Cover Ground which is dedicated to helping athletes with their minds, bodies and bank accounts.

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When you look at the super successful entrepreneurs they all have stories that show much more than what meets the eye. The world of sports is the same as these, as there is a reason that some reach high levels and others don’t. Athletic gifts do play a role in this success but habits play an even bigger role.



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