Olympic Lessons: Maximize Your Performance Within the Rules

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Defending Olympic men's figure skating champion Russian Evgeni Plushenko was obviously bitter about losing the gold in Vancouver to American Evan Lysacek, despite completing a quad jump, which Lycecek did not even attempt. "If [the] Olympic champion doesn't know how to jump a quad, it isn't men's figure skating," he groused, "it's men's ice dancing."

Whether you agree in principle that a quad should be a requirement of winning the gold, the simple truth is that it isn't. In fact, under the current scoring guidelines a quad toe loop is worth only 1.7 points more than a triple axel, and there are plenty of ways to make up the point deficit -- through clean spins, transitions, more jumps, and more jumps later in the program. It's very possible then, that a well-thought-out, slightly more conservative routine performed perfectly will outscore a higher risk one laced with bobbles -- which is exactly what happened in the men's final.

As a long-time fan of figure skating, I admit that the new scoring system, which had its Olympic debut four years ago in Turin and allows skaters to rack up points for every element in their routine, is hard to get used to. After so many years of equating 6.0 with perfection, I don't know what to make of scores in the 175-plus range.

Thankfully, as a bystander, the scoring doesn't interfere with my enjoyment of the sport. I can still kick back on the couch with a bowl of popcorn and watch the skaters spin, jump and glide, and hope my favorite accumulates the most points. For the competitors, on the other hand, the new rules do matter and they better know what it will take to win under the new guidelines. Plushenko's over-reliance on the quad as his ticket to gold ignores these guidelines.

It doesn't matter how you want to be judged. It only matters how you are judged. When you're applying for a job, it's important to understand the specific instructions and follow them. If the job posting says "no phone calls please," then don't call. If the application requires additional attachments, include them.

However, following instructions doesn't mean you can't bolster your candidacy in other ways, like networking to find an ally in the company and doing research to be as prepared as possible in writing your cover letters, tailoring your resume, and getting ready for interviews.

You want to find opportunities to score points in as many parts of the process as possible. Plushenko put everything he had into one jump. Lysacek maximized the entire 4 minute, 40 second program -- and that's why he came out on top.

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