In the ancient Olympics, there were no lucrative endorsement deals awaiting the winners.
No performance enhancing drugs to take, and no judges to bribe.
Instead, the games were centred around the principle of Evgenis Amila, loosely translated as friendly, respectful competition.
Your role as an athlete was to lead by example and inspire your competitors to raise their performance. And they, in turn, would inspire you to raise yours. Thus the baseline of the whole group would improve.
Look closely and you can see echoes of this ancient art in today’s Olympics, particularly in the more gruelling events such as Decathlon and Heptathlon. A set of shared values and an understanding of the rigours of the discipline serve to unite the competitors as a band of brothers or sisters, even as each athlete desires intensely to win.
Of course, Evgenis Amila need not be limited to the Olympics.
Take business, for example. Whether you’re a blue-chip or a unicorn, it’s best to circumvent fear-based metrics such as market share and disruptive effect. Focus, instead, on love-based metrics such as outdoing your best performance and learning from fine practitioners in your industry.
And, of course, you can extend your learning to encompass fine practitioners in other industries that would seem, on the surface, to have little to do with your own.
The American surgeon Atul Gawande is a notable proponent of this. Spending time with, amongst others, Formula One pit crews and learning from their tightly integrated precision teamwork, he greatly improved the success of his surgical teams.
How might you apply Evgenis Amila in your life?